Monday, December 4, 2006

Real Unifying Faith

The following was submitted to the Viewpoint section of the Daily Bruin and published on October 3, 2006:

Real Unifying Faith
“Religion is a personal thing… it is a choice for each individual to make.” Those of us who’ve spent any time at UCLA have heard that over and over, and you could have read it in the Viewpoint on Sept. 24, 2006 under the title, “Amid religious diversity, belief an individual choice.” This is the highest and most universal moral of on-campus religion. To a majority, faith is like hating carrots or loving broccoli: it has nothing at all to do with true or false, right or wrong. True and false are the realm of science; religious statements are not subject to uncompromising rules of logic as are scientific theories like gravity. But let’s consider the implications of a faith that is purely personal.

If faith is nothing more than a personal choice, you are alone in the world with your faith; by definition, no one else can share it with you. Faith then becomes a solitary cloister that none else can enter; no one else can experience, identify, or agree with you on matters of your personal faith because they can’t share it.

If faith is solely a personal opinion, then it has no real significance to others. It is meaningless to discuss your preference for broccoli with a carrot-lover. If faith is a personal preference, then “discourse” devolves into a meaningless expression of groundless preference. Such are children’s arguments: “Broccoli is better,” “Carrots are better,” “Nuh-uh,” “Ya-huh,”

But what if faith wasn’t like broccoli? What if it was more like gravity? Have you ever seriously considered it? Before zoning out, humor me for five minutes; it might be funny. What if faith was reasonable? Not a physical science, but subject to laws of logic and reason, like science. Consistent with the law of non-contradiction, such a faith would be universal. Faith would then be a common thing, something that could be experienced the same by different people. Such a faith would be a transcendent thing, existing above the individual, guiding the behavior of all humanity.

Thank you for your consideration. I didn't notice the new guidelines for length (last year was 800 word submission). I've edited it for length and it's now 600 and does cite the Registration Issue. Sdfkjl sdlk

Only when faith is common can it unify us. With common faith, we can be a member of a community that includes others with whom we truly share faith, not just colliding, on a weekly basis, with others of similar personal preference. Then we would not be isolated by our faith, confined in our own souls, but we can genuinely be a member of a society that has common belief, able to really empathize and connect with our fellows on a deep and intimate level.

But who can say what is “True Faith” and what is not? We all can, as rational beings. Reason is the common denominator of Man: black or white, Buddhist or Muslim, we are all rational beings, equal because we are all constrained by the same laws of logic and reason. This is the universal language we can converse in. We cannot speak to each other in our own private language of our feelings, but we can speak to all humanity through reason. “I prefer broccoli” is meaningful for only one person; “Broccoli is nutritious” can speak to all of humanity.

Only with a common faith can we truly be freed from the solitude of our own souls. Only with a reasonable faith can we be liberated from personal language, and gain freedom to speak to all of mankind. Someone said it a lot better than me: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Faith is far more beautiful when we can be unified by it in Truth, giving us true community, real goodness, and meaningful discussion.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Website Up!

I've got my website working (mostly). It's got a message board for discussing stuff like you'll find here, links to my (unedited) talks on the Bible (a 30 session survey), and I'm starting to post my old documents (things I've written in the past, submitted editorials, etc.). Check back there and here for more!

The Bible - relevant and powerful

Recently the Daily Bruin ran an article (from another school). This incited a letter to the editor about the irrelevancy and powerlessness of the Bible (can be found here).

I wrote and submitted the following in response:

In “Defense of the Bible fails to add up,” (Viewpoint, Nov 29) Jern dismisses the Bible as an irrelevant and worthless “archaic book.” To his credit, Jern does summarize the opinion of a majority at UCLA. Unfortunately, this view is contradicted by many great men who strongly affirm the Bible’s relevancy and value.

George Washington disagrees with the notion that the Bible is irrelevant: “it is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” Even Jefferson, a Deist, echoes this: “The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty.”

Francis Bacon, the man who developed the scientific method, valued the Bible to the point of comparing it to science. He said, “Let no man … think or maintain that a man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works.” The founding father of science itself believed that it’s at least as valuable to study the Bible as science.

The first president and the author of our Declaration of Independence both believed that the Bible was relevant. Were Washington and Jefferson wrong about the Bible’s relevance to government? The inventor of science said that the Bible was at least as important as science. Did this man of reason grossly miscalculate the Bible’s value?

Or is it possible that they were at least partly right?

Even if you disagree with its Divine origin, it’s simply foolish to dismiss the Bible’s relevancy and value outright.
It was not published.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Man in the Arena

Through a long series of events, I have decided to blog. And what better time to make a first blog post than at 4:03AM.

My inspiration for the name of the blog was Theodore Roosevelt. I just finished a 2-part biography of him and I really respected him. After reading some of the things he said, I like him even more. One of the most meaningful to me was the "Man in the Arena" quotation:

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
Over the past few years, I've been challenged again and again, emotionally, socially, philosophically, and spiritually, and I've not always felt 'victorious.' I've gotten undesirable grades on midterms, forgotten homework, botched debates, misrepresented Christ, needlessly insulted and offended people, and poorly led FISH on occasions. In spite of this, Roosevelt's words inspired me. I realized that I shouldn't expect a clean 'victory;' I should get bloody when you fight. Victory is showing up and fighting, and if I've done anything, it's that. I've showed my face in many an 'arena' and gotten bloodied up almost as many times. Nevertheless, I've fought for three years, and as Roosevelt recommends, I intend to continue to fight for the next two , and I won't stop then!

I don't know what this blog will become, what I will talk about, or what you should check back expecting (you can check out my interests for hints). I do know that I fully intend to keep fighting, and there will be plenty of battles and bruises to recount.

P.S. I enjoy writing. It may be therapeutic for me, and it may help me organize my thoughts. Nevertheless, if you enjoy what I write, please post comments. If I see that I'm helping (or at least entertaining) people, it will be a real reason to pound on plastic cubes in front of a lighted piece of glass/plasma at 4:24AM.