A Post-Christian Rant and My Response

Here is something I found while bopping around in the blogosphere this week.  This is a confessional piece, a bare-knuckled rant against much of what Christianity has become in our day and age.  If any of you out there are feeling frustrated with what Christianity has become nowadays, this may be the post for you.

A few ideas in response to this: Continue reading “A Post-Christian Rant and My Response”

Movie Review: 300

300 is billed as the next Braveheart or Gladiator.  I’m not entirely sure that it lives up to that billing, but I did think it was a good film.

300 is based on Frank Miller’s comic book and graphic novel of the same name, which came out in the late 1990s and which depict the Battle of Thermopylae, in which King Leonidas and a detachment of 300 Spartan soldiers held an army of over a million Persians at bay for several days. Continue reading “Movie Review: 300”

My Reaction to The Brothers Karamazov–Part 29: More on the Schoolboys

In this post I wanted to return to Alyosha and the schoolboys.

Earlier I said that the thing I liked best about Alyosha in his first encounter with the schoolboys was his willingness to put himself out there and to engage with them, even at the risk of getting it all wrong.

As I think about myself as a prospective teacher, I think that this is the heart of what teaching is all about.  You plan to the best of your ability, and then you just go in there with whatever you have.  You can’t control how your students will respond to your instruction.  They may eat it all up, or they may look at you with those eyes that say, “You have got to be the craziest person on the face of the earth to think that I would have any interest in whatever it is that you’re trying to teach me.”  But you have to be willing to show up and take the risk.

State standards give you guidance in determining what to teach.  Education courses give you the tools to plan how you will teach it and to determine whether or not you are effective in teaching it.  But the heart of teaching is just showing up and being there.  In doing so you say to your students, “I care about you enough to be here every day, to do whatever I’ve got to do to be here for you.  And I will not let you not get this.”

Alyosha was willing to engage with the schoolboys in his town, even at the risk of getting it all wrong.  And he did get it all wrong at first.  But he was willing to be there for them, and as a result he built influence in their lives.  That is what I look forward to as I think about teaching; the thought that I can be a positive influence in the lives of children just by showing up with whatever I have prepared for them, and just being there for them.

My Reaction to The Brothers Karamazov–Part 28: Gold Mines

In this post I want to look at the character of Madame Hohlakov.

It is commonly accepted that people become more religious as they grow older.  The theory is that as people get older they become aware of the fact that they will only be around for so long and that time is growing shorter.  This leads them to become concerned about issues related to ultimate meaning, such as:  What is the meaning of life?  Why am I here?  How should I live?  What should I do to ensure that something of me will survive here on earth after I am gone?  Have I made my life count for anything worthwhile, or was it all for nothing?  Many people turn to religion, and specifically Christianity (within our culture, at least), for the answers to these issues and questions.  The idea of the “deathbed conversion” and its prevalence in our culture bears this out.

But what if the opposite is true?  Could it be that people actually become more irreligious as they grow older?  It is very hard to serve God faithfully over the full course of a lifetime.  To live for years and years in a natural world which seems to offer very little (if any) intersection between itself and anything that can be called supernatural (if such a thing as the supernatural even exists); to live for years and years in a world which screams that there are no values of any lasting importance, no values beyond money, sex, fame, and the pursuit of happiness in the here and now–and yet still remain faithful to a God whose values are completely opposite the values of that world, is no mean feat.  Anyone who can pull that off is to be strongly commended, and I would imagine that there are very many who simply do not have the strength.  I would even venture to say that “deathbed apostasy” is more common than “deathbed conversion”.

Madame Hohlakov is a prime example of this. Continue reading “My Reaction to The Brothers Karamazov–Part 28: Gold Mines”