The Pursuit of Knowledge

“You attract what you think about most, and you become what you attract most.” Focus. Mental discipline. The Secret, written by Rhonda Byrne, is located in the New Age section of your local bookstore. Before you decide to tune out, read on for at least another paragraph. CultureFeast has never been dedicated to New Age materials and has no intention of beginning to do so. CultureFeast was founded upon the Christian faith, though we are willing to seriously scrutinize that faith and all others in pursuit of truths which those who have gone before either missed or refused to accept. The purpose is to know the truth. It is the truth that shall set you free.

Picking up a book from the New Age section of Barnes & Noble was an unnerving experience for me. What mental traps might I be stepping into, I wondered. Reason prevailed, however. It is because of one idea that I will open my mind’s doors to something labeled as an enemy by people sharing a similar faith to mine. The idea is best explained in several parts. They are:

  1. All people are human, regardless of whether they live today or centuries ago
  2. All humans are limited, fallible and incapable of knowing everything
  3. Because of this, even the authors of our faith did not possess all knowledge or understanding
  4. Because of the Canonization of Scripture and subsequent traditional beliefs of Scripture, many people fear to believe that we could learn anything new and true outside of Scripture because of how that might affect the strength of Scripture’s primacy
  5. Because of this, the Christian community has failed to lead the way in pursuing knowledge and understanding of God’s universe. That task has been left largely to the secular community, which has done the best it knows how.
  6. The secular community can provide scientifically tested data which indicates the probability of certain truths
  7. Just because the scientific community can postulate certain truths (the what and where) does not mean that it can answer the ever valid and crucial questions of how or why (or even when)
  8. If Christian leaders are not going to answer my questions, I must seek the answers on my own.
  9. Since Christian leaders often fear to consider the possibility that nuggets of truth can be discovered by non-Christians, and since these leaders do not themselves search diligently for certain answers, they’re assumptions cannot be automatically trusted
  10. Since non-Christians can discover or understand (on some level) universal principles such as gravity, inertia, and harvest, they have the capacity to discover or understand other such universal principles which the Christian community has yet to understand or acknowledge
  11. Since non-Christians will not often explain why a universal principle is true in a manner that instantly corroborates Scripture, I am responsible to sift the gold from the dross and accept only what either agrees with Scripture or might agree with Scripture upon further reflection and consideration.
  12. Overt disagreements with Scripture must be discarded because we must have a solid starting point from which to work
  13. We must challenge ourselves to find truths which support Scripture, explain/clarify certain mysteries in Scripture, and strengthen the body of Christ by filling in the holes which have riddled our faith over the years

Having said that, it might seem that we have left the Bible behind and have chosen more “exciting” texts to focus upon. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are finding ourselves led to sources of truth that support Scripture and make Scripture make sense to us in ways that we never before imagined.

For example, it’s not enough to read the verse: “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Uh…what? For years, when I realized that my mind was constantly consumed with unhealthy thoughts, i’d rethink that verse and find myself at an absolute loss. I couldn’t come up with a single really “good” thought. Which thoughts are pure? What thoughts are just? What kind of thoughts are lovely? What is a thought of good report? Seriously!

I realized that I had not conditioned myself to know these things. I had spent my adult life fascinated with morbidity, death, dying, crime, suspense, intrigue, suspicion, slander, and on and on. I had become one of the “bent ones.” My thoughts were naturally bent towards selfish or less than holy issues.

Historians tell us that everyone once believed that the sun, stars, and planets revolved around the earth. It is referred to as the geocentric view. The heliocentric view (sun-centered) was suggested by some and considered heresy by the leaders of the time. As in many instances throughout history, scientific discovery has not been welcomed by religious or even political leaders. Men do express their own opinions throughout Scripture, as is obvious by David’s crying out for the death and obliteration of his enemies and Solomon’s declaration that everything is utterly futile and meaningless. Not necessarily views we should adopt. Then there was Peter’s snubbing of Gentiles until set straight by Paul. You get the picture. We’re all human.

It is the mature acceptance of these truths that enables us to allow something outside the realm of our comfort zone to challenge us and engage us. It is by setting and adhering to the tenets of our faith while simultaneously insisting on the pursuit of wisdom and understanding that we arrive at a rich and rewarding mode of existence.

The pursuit continues. For me, it continues with the reading and examination of The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. This book contains possibilities which absolutely excite me. On the surface, it appears to elaborate on biblical statements such as, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he,” and “He who seeks, finds; to him who knocks, the door is opened,” and “think on these things,” and perhaps most importantly,

“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (physical/earthly) but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

What we see here that the weapons of a Christian are mighty to pull down strongholds, to cast down arguments and things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, to bring every thought captive. So the weapons of a Christian involve strongholds, arguments, knowledge, thoughts, and obedience.

We are being told that the weapons involve our minds. The language is dated, because of the period in which it was written, so we miss the point all too often.

More on this soon…

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The Connection Between Music and Ego

What makes you tick? What makes me tick? Other than some really poor jokes about parasites, I’ll venture to say that we don’t often know ourselves as well as we might think.

I am notorious for insisting that people think about the “why” of everything. After all, it’s probably a waste of time if you can’t explain why you’re doing it, whatever “it” is.

One question we rarely ask ourselves: “Why am I craving this particular style of music or song?” Now, some things are just plain obvious. We listen to heartbreak or angry songs after a breakup because we either want to wallow in our misery or we want to lash out in anger for the pain we feel.

But what about the hip hop, the rap, the trance, the acid jazz, the trip hop, the what-the-heck-ever-is-out-there-these-days? If it’s not a ballad or a country song, do we know why we’re listening? Do we ever stop to consider it?

Driving to play basketball, I notice that I am more prone to listen to egocentric rap/hip hop. When I want to write I listen mostly to world fusion. When I want to sleep, I don’t listen to music.

And there are at least a dozen musical styles which I’ll enjoy once they’re playing yet would never select them given a choice. They simply aren’t what I crave.

I have to credit my wife with the original thought on this topic. She first noticed that she enjoyed certain types of music, and that it fed certain predispositions within her.

Another truth: you become what you behold. Very simply, that means you are always becoming like whatever holds your attention. In music, a person listening to rap is most likely to behave in an egocentric, show off, hero-complex sort of way. A person listening to country music is most likely to behave in a practical, slightly depressed way. A person listening to classical music is most likely lying to themselves about their musical taste. People don’t often crave classical music because cravings come from the need to drown something else out. Classical music doesn’t really possess the raw emotional power to tune out other life issues. The only people I’ve noticed listening to classical music are those who are hiding from confrontation in the world or are simply looking to escape it all if only for a few minutes.

Everyone Deals with Pain

It’s something we either never talk about or trivialize in order to forget. It is the reason why many men are so pathetic at talking to women during their teenage years. Whether insecurity or heartache, we cannot decide how best to handle the pain.

Pretending makes us feel awkward, as though we are out of step with the rest of the world. Admitting makes us feel weak, ashamed, and disrespected by those whom we have trusted and have not taken our hearts seriously.

Continue reading Everyone Deals with Pain

Musical Tastes as a Sign of Increased Sensitivity

What is this? Is this what it means to get old? Everywhere I go, I cringe at the sound of conflict. The music I listen to has even changed. Where once it was Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, and Korn, I now listen to now Dave Matthews, Sade, Coldplay, Dallas Green, and Andrea Bocelli. I used to think my dad was nuts because he insisted on having peaceful music only in his home. He couldn’t see why I called the angry, heavy stuff “music.” Well, it turns out that some of it wasn’t. But ssshhh… don’t tell him I said that.

I was watching the press conference after the Dallas Cowboys lost to the New York Giants on Monday night, and I couldn’t help cringing as the press asked Tony Romo their heartless questions. I felt bad for the guy, and I felt bad for Drew Bledsoe. Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have cared who asked or said what, but no more. When the press asked Romo boldly if he was taking Bledsoe’s place, I was a little angry. How do these people ask their questions without caring at all how Drew and his family feel?

Yeah, I know… It’s a sign that I’m getting soft. But, truthfully, I don’t care. I like being soft. I like caring about other people’s feelings. I prefer to handle other people’s fragile egos very gently. I don’t want to crush anyone. That hasn’t always been true, by the way.

So, in true Daniel-like fashion, I have developed a theory on this latest introspection. The theory is fairly simple and basic. It goes like this: the more wounds a person has that are getting bumped into, the more likely he or she is to have a hard heart for “protection.” The hard heart is what allowed me to like certain music back in the day. I was fully of energy, anger, resentment, and bitterness, and the music allowed me the chance to express it without punching someone.

My tastes have slowly changed over the years. I still haven’t arrived at the point of enjoying most classical music. I own quite a few classical and baroque cds, but most of them just don’t speak to me. The greatest change in musical taste for me has been the onset of world music fascination. I love world music. I have several of the Putumayo albums, and some random stuff from around the world including Egypt, India, France, West Africa, and New Zealand. I’ve found that beautiful music is what I’m after, and the lyrics being sung in a foreign language is an added bonus. That way I don’t have to focus on the words, and the voices become just another instrument.

It all expresses my changing tastes, both aesthetically and emotionally. I’m sure that some of you can identify. Music is now something primarily set in the background of my life, not at the forefront to express my emotions. It adds flavor, like a movie soundtrack, with an occasional concert thrown in the mix.