June 8, 2009

subject vs. object

an object is what someone holds objective facts about while a subject is someone one knows intimately through shared experience. to view someone as an object is to limit that person within a set of linguistic boundaries to make this person known universally as an object. it is no longer through subjective experience that a person is known but through a list of words with clear definitions, thus limiting them to the definitions of those words and nothing more. basically the potential to know someone is quenched.
to view someone as a subject is to recognize that the potential to know them is unfathomable. it is to throw away the limitedness of words and engage this person who ends up defying all clear distinctions. you can only know a subject through subjective experience with them.
for example, let’s say that someone asks me to describe my friend travis. this is truly an impossibility. its because whatever word I use to describe him, travis always seems to defy this word and its limited definition although it may be true most of the time. an objective fact: travis is shy. although this may be true when he is around certain people I have seen him do things and say things that would completely and utterly defy the definition of shy. this is because a person can never be known (or made known) by objective facts and words. someone can only be really known by engaging with his or her soul; by being transformed by their life.
I think that most people would probably agree with this. but, what gets me is that if we understand that people can’t be known by objective truth and will end up defying labels we project upon them why do we do both these things to God as if He will fit into our mold or be confined nicely in the definitions of our language despite the eloquence or manner. defining and describing God are important, but if we believe that, afterwards, He must submit to the realm of our description we are no longer treating God as subject but as object. He is not an object to be grasped, but a God to be engaged, a power to be transformed by and a subject to be experienced.

June 4, 2009

the greatest cause

there once was two men. both strived to be faithful toward Jesus and New Testament teachings. both gave their lives to great causes, though they were much different from each other. the first read the New Testament and, in response to it, decided to move away from society to an isolated meadow where he dedicated his time to prayer, fasting, purity and holiness. for he believed that the most important thing was to keep his heart clean and untainted by the world. he decided to cut himself off from tv, movies, radio, internet and anything else that could potentially have a worldly influence on him. he lived the rest of his life utterly alone, for he continued to live in solitude out of fear that he might become a sinner if he lived near them. for he never wanted to compromise his holiness and loyalty to Jesus through contact with the evil of the world. it is said that he died with the purest yet emptiest heart.
the second man also read the New Testament. but instead of living a life of solitude, he decided to take Jesus’ command to love your neighbor very serious. he sold his possessions and gave his money to the poor, he spent a considerable amount of time with widows and orphans within his city and he visited those who were in prison. he spent all of his time with others and was such a strong advocate for the social gospel that he soon began to neglect his own heart and his integrity. grace soon lost its empowerment toward sanctification and had become a license for sin. he continued to serve and love others in spite of his idolatry and rebellion toward God. the story has it that he died the most fulfilled man yet with the coldest of hearts.
commentary // I wonder if either of these men would hear the words, “well done, my good and very faithful servant.” both represent two beautiful causes. yet, also, both neglected each other’s cause. in other words, both these men got it and totally missed it at the same time. purity of heart and social action belong together. there is no reason to see them as archenemies for both of them, together, equal the greatest cause of all: Christianity.