Monday, February 27, 2012

Reason and Soul Growth

I appreciated our exhortation and message this morning, we are going through Titus, and so there is ample opportunity to discuss the life of the church and the life of the mind in the church and its spirituality.  I have been struggling with the question of when does reading and studying come together and gel,  many times it seems that Istruggle to see how all the parts of different readings fit together and I get discouraged at all the connection that I don't yet know and understand - which for me feeds in to my "I want to quit" monster.

Unfortunately, the intellectual life, the life of intentional, habitional cultivation of the mind under Christ's lordship, can be valued and entered into only as a part of the overall approach to life just described, and this approach runs contrary to the conditions that define our modern lifestyles.  Many people today, including many Christians, simply do not read or think deeply at all.  And when believers do read, they tend to read self-help books or other literature that is not intellectually engaging... 

The mind is like a muscle.  If it is not exercised regularly and strenously, it loses some of its capacities and strength.  We modern evangelicals often feel small and without influence in the public square.  We must recapture our intellectual heritage if we are to present to our brothers and sisters, our children, and a post-Christian culture a version of Christianity rich and deep enough to challenge the dehumanizing structures and habits of thought of a society gone mad.  To do this, we must change our reading habits; indeedm we must alter our enture approach to the life of the mind as part of Christian discipleship.     

- JP Mooreland "Love Your God With All Your Mind - The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul"
A few parts of this book that really caught me as I perused it today... first the parallel of the American culture and "the empty self" and truly - as someone aptly put it " I have seen the enemy and the enemy is -me!"  This was hard to hear and even harder to read through today-
  1. The empty self is inordinately indiviualistic.
  2. The empty self is is infantile.
  3. The empty self is narcissitic.
  4. The empty self is passive.
  5. The empty self is sensate.
  6. The empty self is has lost the art of developing an interior life.
  7. The empty self is is hurried and busy.
and secondly how we can get past that - "the casting out of the empty self" (from the chapter Harassing the Hobgoblins of the Christian Mind)
The Loving God with your mind - Mr. Mooreland sets out six things on p 94:
  1. Admit the problem
  2. Choose to be different
  3. Change your routine
  4. Develop patience and endurance
  5. Develop good vocabulary
  6. Set some intellectual goals
"We Christians must admit that we have allowed our culture to squeeze us into its mold.  We must stand against the culture (including inappropriate tendencies in the evangelical subculture), resist the empty self, and eschew the intellectual flabbiness that goes along with it."

So, returning to my discouragement of everything not coming together and gelling quickly enough.  I am a product of this microwave society- my "I want to quit" monster is how it fleshes out for me. The lack of understanding most definately won't be fixed in the microwave -- the life of the mind is more like a crock pot simmering with years of reading and work; and you know that sounds like, well, work. 
So this book leaves me with two requests from God - first, a repetitive attitude of repentence of all don't know and the appathetic attitude of my quit monster and secondly, (THIS is Primary, really) more grace to see Christ in and through the journey and to love God more and more with my mind.


Trisha said...

I'm so glad to see your thoughts about this book. It's been on my wish list.

"Many people today, including many Christians, simply do not read or think deeply at all." Yes, and I feel like I've had to learn to do this. Homeschooling our children has really challenged me, and honestly, my oldest son sometimes has to explain things to me. :) BUT, as I've pushed myself to read the harder things, by the grace of God, I have noticed an improvement in my thinking skills.

Love to you!

EJN said...

Trisha - Your comment about Ink is completely and often true of K's & my discourse-- l do have hope that things will finaly connect- I am thankful for the want to - which I do recognize as God's grace.
Your encouragememt & example is a blessing to me.