Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The means by which we live our lives are the ends that our lives serve. We may hear the old saying "the ends justify the means" but the reality is that the means become the ends that our lives are about. Even more for those who believe that there is a God and that we are passing through this life for many reasons, including judgment, the ends that we seek are the means by which we seek them.

That a life will be spent in the pursuit of means that make life better off not having been lived is the great peril faced by those who feel that the end justifies the means; they lose track of the reality that the means we use are the ends we are seeking, no matter what we may tell ourselves.

Understanding that the means we use are the ends we are seeking is the key to recognition and will. If you've read what I've written about acceptance and forgiveness you will recognize that both acceptance and forgiveness requires, at some point, a recognition sufficient that it causes a change.

Without a change in the manner of action, we have not forgiven ourselves, we have not found freedom, we have not accepted. It is the change that recognition creates that becomes the end that our life serves, which means that the way we act and the means that we use when we act remain the true ends that we seek.

There is a reason that peacemakers are blessed, and are called the children of God.

Yes, I mean that whether or not we support or suborn torture, that whether or not we are kind to those who we judge not to deserve it, that whether we overcome despair or are swallowed by it whole, especially in this season, in some part rests on recognition, will, acceptance and forgiveness.

I mean all of those things, because I mean that a key lesson in life is learning that our means are our ends.

For some interesting links, intended to create thought, not provide answers, death penalty discussion and more on the topic, trolls (who need to learn this lesson), ethesis, perseverance and torture.

And, as always, ozarque, a living saint.

May your means and ends be peaceful in this season.


White Man Retarded said...

Hey. Thanks for commenting. I have a question: Do you think at times we are left alone in order to exercise our wings and test our faith, not for Heavenly Father to see what we would do, but to either affirm our strengths for ourselves or point out a weakness where we need to improve?

Stephen said...

I think that most of the time we are left alone is for us to learn from the experience, not as a test.

I've had that experience. Most of life is about living and experience, not about testing.

Stephen said...

BTW, we need always to be ready to take the blame ...

For those who kneel beside us At altars not Thine own,
Who lack the lights that guide us, Lord, let their faith atone!
If wrong we did to call them, By honour bound they came;
Let not Thy Wrath befall them, But deal to us the blame.

from Kipling.

Anonymous said...

Ask yourself how you measure up to that standard.

Sarebear said...

Well, apparently my means suck, as do my ends. The ends of trying to be true to myself, while at the same time trying to be considerate of other people's feelings, but without always stifling myself to the point where I'm just trying to please others and never confront anyone or any issues that might be unpleasant but necessary to avoid a lifetime of resentment from feeling like I'm supposed to just eat it all the time.

I think I just majorly screwed up. And I think my in-laws are gonna and are having a conniption. And I think . . . . that Christmas is going to be difficult to be, around them, this year. And maybe forever.

See my Popeye Day post. And anyway, I am frightened that I just screwed up everything forever. And that they'd never accept me for who I am anyway; that they always want me to be who THEY Want me to be.

Ugh. i'll shut up now. I'm just . . . . more alone than I ever thought I'd be. My husband and daughter accept me, and that may always be the only ones who ever do, and how do I handle that?

Okay, shutting up now, REALLY.

john f. said...

Sarebear, I feel for you in your challenges. I am sorry that you must endure them. I hope that you can reconcile with your in-laws and have an uplifting Christmas.

Stephen, this was an excellent essay.

White Man Retarded said...

I agree with the 'experience' comment. It is not far off from what I was trying to say. I just lack eloquence to state what I mean. I am so grateful for the answers coming to me at this time. Passing through the fire is painful, and I cannot fathom the character of the Saviour for His willingness to Atone for me, and for everyone. Also, Kipling was right on. I can do better on my part...also, count your blessings...

White Man Retarded said...

"...points out that there is a religious experience, a cultural experience and a spiritual experience all meeting together at Church.

For reasons I do not understand fully, the physical attending of meetings is somehow necessary to all three, but for many, only the spiritual part of it nourishes them. So they drift off because they are not connected with the cultural and the religion." This is a comment you made on another blog; what do you mean by spiritual and religious experiences (I understand cultural) and what is the difference? By religion do you mean the 'ritual' of our worship? Or do you refer to all of mens need for a religion? I think I understand the spiritual experience but I want to clarify the religious experience. Baby steps...

Stephen said...

what do you mean by spiritual and religious experiences

That is a good question.

In nursing, they point out that there is a difference between how religious people are and how spiritual. While the two may go together, and may be interdependent, they are not always.

Consider a suicide bomber. Probably very religious. Probably not connected to the Spirit of God or spirituality.

It is an important difference, and often obscured by people who get a cultural experience from religion (that particular group dominated the study of religion for a while, people who believed that islanders sacrificed out of cultural norming rather than any real belief in the gods sacrificed to, for example).

But a religious experience is different from a spiritual experience, one fits into the needs for structure and format, the other to spirtual needs.

Both are different from cultural experiences, and understanding that there is a difference is important to resolving certain types of conflicts and understanding how those conflicts arise. Which is where my interest comes from.

Anonymous said...

You linked to fMh Lisa's post on trolls. You ought to know that fMh Lisa makes it looks like she is open for dialog but she deleted every comment I posted. It seems that she was so angry (her comment on another post) that she could spit. She was tired of my unwillingness to acquiesce to the notion that masturbation was ok.

Stephen said...

Great post on various types of flamers.