Over the past few days, I’ve begun to notice something about myself. When I watch movies or TV shows, I find myself drawn to the characters who display honesty and transparency. They are often my favourite characters. Locke (in the first half of the series) from Lost. Abed from Community. Gale (in his minor role) in Breaking Bad. Kenneth from 30 Rock. Peter and Hiro from Heroes. These people are not all perfect characters, nor are they always the brightest. But there is some charming simplicity in their actions that draws me toward them. In real life, my closest friends are also ones that display this honesty. I find myself drawn to these people because of the value that I place on honesty.
Obviously, there is nothing taboo about valuing honesty. As the old adage says, “Honesty is the best policy.” But I am drawn to a type of honesty that goes beyond simply not telling lies. It has its roots in something more integral to the self. It is not quite “authenticity”, for that implies being one’s “true self,” whatever that means. The honesty I look for has more to do with a simple sincerity of heart: a degree of integrity. It involves defining one’s purposes and making them plain to everyone. It involves finding one’s identities and being true to them. It is akin to the existentialists’ idea of “good faith,” living a life without self-deception.Continue Reading
One of the skills that I believe is important to teach in schools is the ability to develop and apply moral values to everyday life. In the past, this sort of thing was done by integrating religion into school. Children would be taught Christian moral values and principles, and they learned to apply them. Once schools became more secularized, this religious moral education was removed. And don’t get me wrong—I believe that is a good thing. However, no system of moral values was put in its place. Instead of embracing the moral values of secular society, schools opted toward a “no-values” approach that removed as much value-judgment as possible. The emphasis shifted to facts and analysis of facts instead of values and value judgments.Continue Reading
I have fairly idiosyncratic views about morality. I’ve written about them (in fairly brief terms) before. But more recently, I’ve had to refine my ideas about what morality is. I’m not sure that I believe in an objective standard for morality any longer. And this was due, at least in part, to my reflections on the ethics of vegetarianism. If that seems strange, let me explain.Continue Reading
One of the most common responses to the ‘problem of evil’ is the notion of free will. Very briefly, the problem of evil is this: If there exists an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God, why is there so much evil in the world? Although various attempts to answer this question have been made throughout the centuries, free will remains the one of the most prevalent. Free will, in this context, is the ability of human beings to make choices free from the constraints of prior causes. As the response goes, free will is important, or a great good, or necessary, such that the creation of beings with free will outweighs the evil in the world that necessarily follows as a result of the existence of these beings. We can’t take the good without the bad, but in this case, the good far outweighs the bad.
However, for orthodox Christians who believe the Bible, this response poses some strange dilemmas. I’d like to point out a few of these and explain why they are so problematic.Continue Reading
I recently had a discussion online with someone who identifies himself as a “men’s rights activist (MRA)”. These MRAs are reactionaries to the feminist movement, and often their complaint is that equality has already been achieved (in the Western world) and that women who continue to push for greater rights are just seeking to achieve superiority over men. As the author of this blog points out, often these concerns seem to stem from frustrations regarding their own failure to have satisfying relationships with women. The frustrations begin to manifest in outright misogyny, and they pin the blame on the feminists who gave women power over men. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily make their viewpoints wrong, but it does help us potentially understand how someone becomes an MRA.Continue Reading
The other day I was struck by how fond I have become with existentialist literature. That might be one of the most pretentious sentences I’ve ever written, but so be it. I recently finished reading The Trial by Franz Kafka (amazon.ca), a fascinating book, and it deals with many existentialist themes. Kafka loved to write absurdist fiction (the cousin of existentialism)—evidenced by the fact that people now refer to absurd situations as “Kafkaesque”.Continue Reading
I try to spend as much time as I possibly can reading. I still read far less than I would like to, but I’ve managed to read quite a few books over the past few years. The difficulty for me is to pick my favourites out of the ones that I’ve read. Certainly some I didn’t like, but many were good yet incomparable to each other. One may have a great plot, while another has compelling characters, while another has interesting themes underlying it—it all gets very difficult to compare one book to another.Continue Reading