Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Christian Heroism

"It is Christian heroism--a rarity, to be sure--to venture wholly to become oneself, an individual human being, this specific individual human being, alone before God, alone in this prodigious strenuousness and this prodigious responsibility; but it is not Christian heroism to be taken in by the idea of man in the abstract or to play the wonder game with world history" (italics mine).
-Soren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Saturday Day Trip

Last Saturday, Monique and I took a day trip to East Tennessee. I spent the first part of the day at a small conference in Monteagle, TN at the Dubose Conference Center. Professors Peter Augustine Lawler and William McClay presented on topics related to human dignity and bio-technology. During my shut-in hours, Monique explored the surrounding area, visiting Sewannee and the University of the South. After the conference, we drove up Lookout Mountain in Georgia and then descended to Chattanooga, TN where we ate dinner in a train car attached to the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo!

As I think about the trip now, I have two nuggets to share.
  1. Dr. Lawler, borrowing a phrase from Pascal, talked about the greatness and misery of the human person, namely that our greatness is our misery. We are the only living creatures we know that are fully aware that they are going to die...and they don't like it one bit. Our misery comes from our awareness of our own impending and necessary deaths and the lack of time and space that gives us to live lives of substance and meaning. Because we are these creatures of both greatness and misery, whenever we advance one aspect, like our greatness, we find ourselves more miserable than before. Lawler likes to use the example of parnaoid soccer moms. How come, in a country that is arguably the safest and healthiest country ever in the history of the world, people are more paranoid and nervous than ever? A quick answer is that as our greatness increases so does our misery. As we've made death more and more accidental, the more and more we fear it.
  2. The Chattanooga Choo Choo started running from Cincinnati to Chattanooga in the 1880's. Believe it or not, it was the FIRST railway connecting the North and the South in this way. As we were looking at the train and having dinner, we wondered how the inevitable culture clash that ended in the American Civil War might have been mitigated if it were just easier to go visit your relatives up North or down South. Without that fast and easy transportation, it's easy to see how the two could see themselves as truly separate cultures and, for the South, countries.
That's that. Let me know what you think.