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Mere Christianity: Your philosophy - 2

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JONAL ENTRY 1223 | February 17 2012

The previous blog introduced the new breakthrough in my thinking that any intelligent person can be and in the right circumstances is a philosopher. Though I didn't actually say it, I strongly implied that writing newspaper or magazine editorials (opinion pieces) is an example of doing philosophy. And while I have philosophized on this topic since then in my own mind, I also realized that an old criticism I had made of former President George W. Bush is an error if my new insight into philosophy and philosophizing is valid. 

During his first campaign for his party's nomination as the presidential candidate, a debate moderator asked the candidates who their favorite philosopher was. Bush replied, "Jesus," which struck me (though I was glad to know his high regard for Jesus and his willingness to admit this before the watching world) as fallacious on the grounds that Jesus was not a philosopher. But the new insight is that, of course Jesus was a philosopher. He spoke and preached philosophically every where and at all times throughout his three-year ministry. His messages of love and reconciliation were and remain revolutionary philosophical tenets that have been changing the world ever since and will continue doing so until the age comes to its close.

To be sure, Jesus was not a philosopher in the same sense Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (already the standard-bearers in the philosophy of the world Jesus was born into); pursuit of knowledge was not Jesus' full-time or most important occupation, nor did He promote his revolutionary ideas as being new matrixes of all thinking or of grasping everything important in the cosmos, as new philosophies are expected to do. He was not teaching students (people whose main occupation is studying) the way the three Greek philosophers cited did; He taught everyone He encountered how to live more productively and redemptively. 

So for that reason He is remembered more as a teacher of religion rather than of philosophy, for however much the difference between the two matters. Yet, in the tradition of Moses the lawgiver, David the writer of many of the psalms, Solomon the writer of the proverbs, and the prophets of Israel, what Jesus taught is philosophy as well as "religion": His teachings form minds even as they transform lives and give reasons for living. And to the extent that any idea or precept forms a "mind," it is philosophy. And, here's another "philosophical" thought: Jesus was a manthe man for mankind, ecce homo, to quote Pontius Pilate—without laying aside His eternal deity for even a minute. And since with God there is no "time" as temporal beings like us understand it, it's not even necessary to say that God became a man only "temporarily."

Though my great philosophical breakthrough is that everyone is (now and then) a philosopher, its sad corollary is that most people are not philosophers nearly often enough. I earlier said that any time someone looks up a word in the dictionary she is beginning to put on his philosopher cap, but the sad truth also is that most people don't look up words in the dictionary nearly often enough. We'd rather indulge our laziness than do the "work" of looking up a word, even now when just highlighting and left-clicking on words enables us to go directly to a definition in most computer applications. We're not smart enough for our smart phones, much of the time, at least.

Examples that illustrate that we are not philosophers nearly often enough are found in what are commonly called "gotcha questions." Perhaps the most effective one making the rounds now is, "how does allowing same-sex couples to marry threaten your marriage?" Gotcha! If you're like me, even though I don't even have a marriage and even if I'm convinced that redefining marriage in that way threatens not my marriage but threatens marriage as a whole at its roots, it threatens the family as the bedrock institution of civilization, and by extension it threatens the very civilization we all live inif you're much like me, you'll probably stammer and say something like, "well, if you put it that way..." and by failing to answer imply that you're okay with "gay marriage" after all, even if you've signed the Manhattan Declaration. And that's because philosophizing—thinking something through and speaking based on that—is work, and casual conversation should never be work, right? 

Same-sex "marriage" is not a matter of fairness to homosexuals (whoever they are, because the definition of that term is far from settled in our culture as a whole) but whoever they are, I'm for treating them fairly. But the more basic question is what's in the best interest of the children among us and the generations of children to follow us, and the further sexualizing of our culture, our schools, their curriculum and by extension, our children. It's about who gets to define "marriage"—should it be defined in the "natural law" long considered the basis of all civil society as it has been ever since "marriage" came into existence, or should "marriage" be defined by the state in accord with its latest attempt to further consolidate its power over more of our lives? If, as the Declaration of Independence declares and our nation's Constitution confirms, "natural law" is the basis of our states' and nation's laws, how can we put ourselves and our human government above that law? And how could anyone asking us to do that be considered "fair"?

Those are all philosophical questions. But they require work and such work is unpopular. And so, woe be to the popular democracies of the world. 

— Webmaster Jon Kennedy

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