dating website
free online dating websites
dating sites
free dating websites
dating websites free
«    »

No Guts, No Glory

Posted on June 19th, 2005

Well it’s a slow time for the journal as I’m dealing with more-than-expected amounts of schoolwork and the reality of midterms. The good news is that the midterms are going well (I expect that the four I have already taken will yield some good results). I have one more on Tuesday, then a bit of a break until July. For those of you who are done school (Jasmine, Kristin, etc.), I hope you rot … err… enjoy your freedom 🙂 And since I’m at it, congratulations to all of those who just had their convocations (Kristin, Tammy, Sue, Dean’s Honour List Pete, etc.)!

Anyhow, I’m home for the weekend (I left after my Business midterm this morning) for some Father’s Day stuff and some R&R. The plan was to also bring back a replacement TV, but my landlord surprised us by bringing home a brand spanking new TV this past week! Score one for the good guys! So I’ve politely declined my brother’s old TV, but I still took him up on his offer to drive me home. Take that, Greyhound!

I was lying down on the couch tonight and I picked up a TIME magazine. I flipped through some pages, and this caught my attention:

“I think shareholders are the great evil of this modern world.” – Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay, after his record label, EMI, announced that profits would be lower than expected because the band took longer than anticipated to finish its latest album.

First off, I would just like to quip that the extra time taken was spent producing a phenomenal album. I’m not going to say that it’s better than any one of the others, but it certainly has the potential. It’s been growing on me with each additional listen, and I am loving the feel of the record. Props to them for taking whatever time they felt necessary to foster and ensure quality over quantity. EMI can go suck an egg.

So anyways, back to the quote. I put the magazine down and thought about what I read. I considered corporations of many magnitudes and industries, and I noticed that one thing governed all of them: greed. This is, of course, not a surprise to anyone since one of the critical success factors for a business is to achieve financial performance. But just like many other things, there are benevolent ways to do it, and malicious ways to do it. It just so happens that the latter tends to be easier. And when companies go through all of the hoops to keep shareholders happy, we can all guess which route the vast majority of them are going to take.

This, of course, comes at a cost. When some gain (i.e. the shareholders), other tend to lose (i.e. the environment, the communities around the business, customers, and so on). The ferocity of competition puts respect, morality, credibility, and other venerable traits in grave danger. No wonder the world can be such a terrible place to live! No wonder millions of people are starving each day! No wonder why millions of workers are being exploited each day! No wonder it’s often hard to see God in our presence!

This brings me to a related point. And it’s a tad bit more controvertial; in fact, I may be walking a very thin line between insight and heresy. Perhaps the church itself makes it hard to see God in our presence. By church, I mean it on both senses of the word: the institutions and the communities of people. Allow me to explain.

I’ll start with the institutions. Like other institutions, the church must be concerned with self-preservation. In today’s day and age, this translates to having money. Yes, in the ideal world, the church would be able to supercede society and whatever, but I’m not going to marginalize this to some sort of fairy-tale situation. The reality is that churches need money to feed pastors, buy Bibles, furnish buildings, pay utilities, and all that other stuff. I wholly recognize that the church’s purpose is much more noble than other institutions (at least, I hope it is), but a church reliant on money draws some concern from me.

In order to have sustainable income, the church needs to continue to provide reasons to collect money. The Bible offers the notion of tithes, where believers should be donating at least 10% of their annual income to the church. In Acts 2, communities of believers did a whole lot more than that. But after the church gained prominence (thanks to Roman emperors like Constantine), I think that it took some turns for the worse.

Take, for example, the creation of indulgences. The church essentially sold forgiveness from God. Now I’m not going to go into detail about what I find wrong with that as I think that it’s rather self-evident. Then comes the compilation of the Bible as we know it today. This is less overtly ridiculous (compared to indulgences) and, as such, could get me in some deep water. Does it ever cross your mind that the church only put the books that were convenient to have in the Bible? Do you think that biases could have influenced why other books were omitted? Is there something that the church wants to hide?

I will say now that I do not claim to be very well-versed about the canonical councils. I see why certain books were included (e.g. the four gospels that convey four different styles to four different audiences), but I do not see why others were excluded. Why not put everything in and leave it to the reader to determine the level of its relevance? I’m reminded of a line from the movie Stigmata, which quotes the Gospel of Thomas (I think), which is said to be written in Aramaic and transcribes Jesus’ words closely: “The Kingdom of God is all around you. Split a piece of wood, and I am there; lift a rock, and you will find Me.” If I were a church leader, I’d be a little concerned about these words; they question the need of an institutional church altogether! So there’s some food for thought. It may end up being a very deep rabbit hole…

And now to the second perspective of church: the people. As human beings, are we not vulnerable to greed and pride as well? It’s almost impossible to be completely selfless. Also, are we not fallible to mistakes? So are we not at risk of doing some very terrible things in the name of God? We’ve already done it. Wars are started in the name of Christianity. So, too, are deaths committed and other heinous acts. Even among Christians, much blood as been spilled. We need not look further than Ireland to see evidence of that.

So when we look around us in our own communities and see this happening, how can we claim to believe the same things that they do? How can we expect the same of others when we, ourselves, commit terrible deeds? I certainly am not above this either. And the “don’t be so hard on yourself” argument holds no water here; this is pretty much the only place where we should be extremely hard on ourselves. After all, we believe that our eternal lives depend on it, right?

What, then, are we to do? I recently read a commencement address that Steve Jobs (of Apple fame) gave to graduates at Stanford. Allow me to quote a part of it:

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Some pretty insightful ideas, I think. Maybe God isn’t as truly important as I say or hope He is. I don’t think that He’s as important in my life as He ought to be. This is probably true for a lot of others, too. Argh. Do I have the guts to follow my heart?

Leave a Reply