Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is Ice Cream Consumption a Carnal Act?

As human beings, we find ourselves within the boundaries of a time and space dimension. Our physical bodies have a finite amount of time to exist measured against the movement of the earth around the sun. While knowledge is, on the one hand, understood to be a function of intellectual capacity, each individual gains a body-based composite of knowing by being alive in our physical bodies we may label in two categories:

kinesthetic knowledge --physical understandings like knowing how to ride a bicycle, wherein a person need not be able to carefully articulate the physical laws involved, nor the math of speed computation, but nonetheless "knows" the way to balance and move the vehicle forward successfully.

carnal knowledge--within Christian circles, carnal knowledge is synonymous with sin but in the fullness of definition is a bit broader.

1. pertaining to or characterized by the flesh or the body, its passions and appetites; sensual: carnal pleasures.

2. not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly: man of secular, rather carnal leanings. (Dictionary.com)

Is riding a bicycle carnal? It pertains to the body and is a mere human activity. (Though I have had many a bike ride wherein my sense of God's presence and my communion with Him during the physical activity was sublime.) So...biking is carnal. Biking is carnal?!

Consider the carnal pleasure of eating ice cream. (We visited a local ice cream shop here in Seattle. All organic ingredients and the spoon/bowl was compostable. I selected coffee and the product included ground coffee beans--yum!) Most of us do not place this human act--based on no nutritional need but pursued by the majority of us who enjoy ice cream simply because the taste and texture of the dessert is enjoyable--in the sin category.

Carnal acts which are sinful have a quality that goes beyond simply enjoying a pleasurable, physical act. When do we cross that line?

What do you think? (I'm using my daughter's Mac and frustrated by it!!! I have no clue why the second half of this post is showing up in a white box, nor can I figure out how to get it to stop. I think I need to rename the blog to reflect my continuing fight with technology.)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Degrees and a Cabbie's Knowledge

The brain grows a dendrite, and literally an individual gains a mental connection. The person has new knowledge. A fact is known.

The word science is rooted in a Latin word, scire, meaning to know. Knowledge is simply what we know. Knowledge builds on itself, hence a formal education requires years; and individuals categorize their learning into specialties of focus, which drive a lifetime of learning in that field. We award such knowledge a credential verifying the education met standards.

Gaining knowledge includes non-formal education. One's brain may contain a pile of facts about a particular city's streets which has developed as a function of driving a cab for a living. The brain in this case rarely requires a map for reference. Experience is a great teacher.

In the cab example, the individual learns more than just where the streets lay. The cab driver will be aware of related but necessary facts that are a function of the city planner's action, which streets run two-ways versus one-way for instance; and of particular importance, which way that one way is! (I've been visiting Portland, Oregon since yesterday, and this city employs the one-way more than most cities I have visited! Well done, I might add. It hasn't been difficult to navigate.)

Further, the cab driver will be well versed on facts that impact the orientation and the planning of the streets: hours when the given streets experience heavy traffic, locations of popular attractions that will impact traffic flow, ethnicity concentrations, crime areas, etc. Knowledge is layered and nuanced.

We gain and accept our level of knowledge capacity and the layering of our given circumstances as a function of life. Taken as a whole, the amount of knowledge and its expanding diversity leaves the common person within an unfathomable labyrinth. All of us live with his of her pile of facts while leaving much information to reside out of our brains but within the reach of research. Factoring in the multiples of other people's nuance, add in the forces of nature and the laws of physics wherein a volcano may erupt or trained bicyclists misjudge by millimeters into a shattering fall and to knowledge is added the complication of "randomness" which at times scrambles life beyond planning, protocols and policies that all stand upon knowledge.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Knowledge, Part II

Moving from the last post, today is a simple framework of definitions and premises.

Knowledge: the body of truths or facts accumulated in the course of time. Dictionary.com

However, the Christian experience opens us to the Mind of Christ. Considering the beginning definition from the Christian perspective, knowledge is limited and finite. It is expanding rapidly in this age, but will never approach what is held in the mind of the Lord. Additionally, as Christians, we may divide knowledge into two components:

  • Knowledge as the composite of data with which humans function in the natural world and upon which is constructed in ever-increasing complexity that stuff labeled scholarship or erudition.
  • Carnal knowledge or the realm of understanding which springs from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
My next post or two--I'm not exactly sure where this is headed--will be essays in which three areas of "knowledge" are the key components. These are knowledge, carnal knowledge and the Mind of Christ.

Knowledge from God

As a jumping off point for commenting about knowledge, the following quote is shared from a sermon of George MacDonald's sometime in the late 1800's:

"...so that the selves God made shall appear, coming out with ten-fold consciousness of being, and bringing with them all that made the blessedness of the life the men tried to lead without God. They will know that now first are they fully themselves. The avaricious, weary, selfish, suspicious old man shall have passed away. The young, ever young self, will remain. That which they thought themselves shall have vanished: that which they felt themselves, though they misjudged their own feelings, shall remain--remain glorified in repentant hope. For that which cannot be shaken shall remain. That which is immortal in God shall remain in man. The death that is in them shall be consumed." (the emphasis in the selection is from MacDonald)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Shibboleth –noun

a peculiarity of pronunciation, behavior, mode of dress, etc., that distinguishes a particular class or set of persons.
From Hebrew shibboleth, "stream, flood," from the use of this word in the Bible (Judges 12:4-6) as a test to distinguish Gileadites from Ephraimites, who could not say 'sh' but only 's' as in 'sibboleth'. (taken from Dictionary.com)

...and so it goes. Humans have their vocal signals that delineate groups and establish both simple regions and lines of demarcation of profound political division (the division around language is more complicated than simple pronunciation, of course). We humans function along lines of creating culture--both broadly within large political boundaries and site specific as in the "corporate culture" of business. Culture leads to lines of thought around who is part of us and who is not. In the broadest application of this idea, we confront ethnocentrism or a tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspective of one's own. However, within site specific cultural identities the same group-think takes shape of who is and is not part of the culture.
Denominations and independent churches alike are subject to this dynamic.

When the Christian school I served for seventeen years determined to more aggressively recruit its student body from a broader base in the community than simply the church group which started the school, we immediately had to leap the hurdle of how our group was considered "different" and market our "sameness" with "traditional" Christian thought and practice. Getting people of different backgrounds together is not an easy task. The culture of cooperation I hoped to engender among the broad spectrum of the larger community had to reflect who we were within our school culture first. In pursuit of that goal, I added a section to the teacher application wherein the applicant had to express their willingness to reach across boundaries within the broad spectrum of Christianity. In this section, an applicant from the Pentecostal Holiness tradition stated that she followed this teaching believing it closest to the Truth.

Isn't that why any of us practice what we practice? Yet all women do not wear their long hair as a bun across the top of the head swirled out of never-cut locks. Which brings up a tantalizing (possibly tiresome to some) array of questions over the analysis of what is "True" Christian expression.

Oh! ... that IS why we separate within the Body of Christ, isn't it?

Postulate: a Christian will function in life something like the O blood type. That is he or she will be emotionally and intellectually equipped to give to all others and to receive all others. This ability will include being able to relate practically with both those in darkness and those who are redeemed and renewed in the light of Jesus Christ.

I described cause for disunity among believers in the last post over knowing God or knowing one's own self righteousness.

This leaves me two areas of understanding to explore:

  • What is knowledge? (Since "knowing" God is a prerequisite for unity.)
  • What is the righteousness upon which we must agree to be unified? (Since reasons for practicing anything as a function of our Christianity, like piling hair on the head if one is feminine, are rooted in our seeking of what is right according to Truth.)

If you care to, leave a thought about other topics you see as salient to a discussion on unity.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I believe there is a tremendous unity in the Body of Christ, the many divisions of practice and emphasis notwithstanding.

It is really very simple. There are those who are learning the way of living life in His righteousness. These folks either know or are knowing through learning the way of Christ in the spirit and a divine view of righteousness flowing only from Jesus Christ. Such a state supplies and guides the soul with all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Then there are those who are simply seeking to establish righteousness through their own effort of choice to abide by law. The use of spiritual terms and scripture are espoused in elaborate constructs of righteousness matrices, but these hearts trust not the in-dwelling Presence through the Holy Spirit.

Unity occurs among the former group; posturing and strife are the hallmarks of the latter. Many will think this simplistic, and point to places where there is mixture of both trusting Christ within and self-trust. For this reason, I think, Peter told those who heard his call to faith, "walk out your salvation with fear and trembling." Practicing the Presence is not something automatic but a function of our exercise of faith. There is a learning curve, if you will allow.

Accepting none of us is perfect in trusting Him in all things all the time--for such confession and forgivenness exist--the question reduces to what do we embrace, Jesus Christ or our human understanding?