Category Archives: Spiritual Edification

If God is God Then Why?

One of many books we had to read for a theology class in university was titled “If God is God, Then Why?” (by Al Truesdale). I flipped through the book and saw so much highlighted, that I decided to read it again. I remember writing several reflections about this book and after reading it and I could see why – there is so much to question and reflect on. I definitely recommend giving it a read. If you’re too busy though like 98% of people I know, here are some of my summary and reflections on it (-:

If God is God than Why? by Al Truesdale is a book that encompasses a story and perspective from a woman who had to witness great tragedy in her loved ones—her mother who died from cancer, and her father and husband who passed away in the 9/11 attack. Loneliness engulfs her, so she expresses the theological questions with her friend Barbara, who seeks answers through letters to her uncle, a priest, minister, and professor of theology. Within these letters, both Barbara and Janice go to great lengths to answer questions regarding the problem of evil. Though they may not come to a concise answer, their exploration expresses deep consideration to the wide held problem of evil within the world. There were a few of many answers that seemed relatable or convincing to the problem of evil, though they were eventually refuted within the text. Some of the convincing answers to me were that evil and suffering are God’s way of getting our attention, an aspect to life that enhances the soul (soul-making theodicy), and it is a result of abused finite freedom.

First, when professor Carl mentioned that evil is God’s way of getting our attention, I was a bit confused as to why God would do that. Furthermore, Carl later goes on and mentions how God is God, and not associated with evil at all. However, he mentioned one of C.S. Lewis’ quotes—“ God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Though this thought is later refuted because Jesus ultimately suffers with us in our pain, there still seems to be some truth behind it. I have definitely experienced this in my life and seen it happen to others. For example, whenever I get deeply sick, when I have surgery, or even when I have period cramps or pregnancy contractions, I can hear God’s voice so clear, compared to when I am healthy and take many things for granted. Furthermore, I also had a friend who after having an injury from a snowboarding accident, they seemed to have a better understanding of what is important in life during the healing process. In a way, it’s almost like pain and suffering has a way of humbling us. For me, it makes me realize that the only one who can heal the pain is God (the spirit), not worldly things (let’s not get technicial, I’m not talking about medicine…of course that helps for many people…I’m talking about worldly pleasures:). In most instances, it seems that pain is a process that humbles us before God to hear God’s voice clearer.

The second attempted solution that seemed to resonate with me is that evil occurs to better the souls of people, or the soul-making theodicy. I had never heard of this before, and had a hard time grasping the idea. However, Carl mentioned how “Responsible and virtuous character often comes from investing costly personal effort in concrete challenges” (Truesdale 55). Though it is not possible logically, I feel like evil acts and suffering are like challenges and pressure one must overcome in order to be like a diamond in the end. I have seen this in many cancer patients—many aren’t sure if they are going to make it. However if they do end up healing from the process, they seem to have a new thankfulness in their soul for health and many other things in life. The soul making theory makes a lot of sense when the challenge, evil, or suffering is overcome—almost like in the book of Job. Furthermore, the soul making theory is also often seen in many near-death experiences, giving a new profound outlook on life.

Many of the solutions to the problem of evil often seem circumstantial. Reading this book, it was interesting to get a glimpse of some of the possible solutions to the problem of evil. However, some things just seem unexplainable. When pain or suffering occurs throughout the nation, such as school shooting or natural disasters, I am all the more like Janice, questioning why God would allow this or how it can be disguised as good in the greater scheme of things. Yet I later understand that only God knows, because we are merely humans who are dependent on God to sustain us. Maybe professor Carl was right in his brief response—perhaps there is no solution and clear explanation of evil and suffering for us to comprehend. However it is comforting to know that Jesus suffers with humanity, which in the Christian perspective, all the more emphasizes the meaning of the cross.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Let us know in the comments below!

Dependence, Independence & Interdependence

I started reading a nerdy self- help book (The 7 habits of Highly Effective People) and wanted to share what I thought was a noteworthy concept we often confuse or misprioritize – dependence, independence, and interdependence. (highlighted in blue are direct words from the book) Many people think they need to isolate themselves for several years in order to find themselves or get their life together, but the reality is that we live in an interdependent world and being a part of it means we have to relate to that world every single day. Understanding how what you are impacts every interdependent interaction will help you focus your efforts sequentially, in harmony with the natural laws of growth.

  • Dependence– it has its pros and cons, but if it is an unhealthy type of dependence, our sense of worth and security would come from others’ opinions. Dependent people cannot choose to become interdependent. They don’t have the character to do it; they don’t own enough of themselves.
  • Independence– it has its pros and cons as well. Independence is more of a private victory. It is an important stepping stone, but not what we should ultimately strive for. Trying to reach interdependence without first having independence would be similar to trying to harvest a crop before planting it. In today’s culture though, it seems sooo hyped up about, mostly because independent people seem to get what they want through their own effort and are validated from within. Independence is a major achievement in and of itself, but it is not supreme. Nevertheless, the current social paradigm enthrones independence. It is the avowed goal of many individuals and social movements. Most of the self- improvement material puts independence on a pedestal, as though communication, teamwork, and cooperation were lesser values.
  • 🌟Interdependence🌟- Our ultimate goal. “Life, by nature, is highly interdependent. Interdependence is a far more mature, advanced concept. If I am physically interdependent, I am self- reliant and capable, but I also realize that you and I working together can accomplish far more than, even at my best, I could accomplish alone. If I am emotionally interdependent, I derive a great sense of worth within myself, but I also recognize the need for love, for giving, and for receiving love from others. If I am intellectually interdependent, I realize that I need the best thinking of other people to join with my own.
  • As we continue to grow and mature, we become increasingly aware that all of nature is interdependent, that there is an ecological system that governs nature, including society. We further discover that the higher reaches of our nature have to do with our relationships with others – that human life also is interdependent.

What do you think of these interpretations? Do you agree with them? Let us know in the comments below!

The Stages Of Spiritual Awakening

Being aware of where we are in our spiritual awakening journey is important. It gives us a compass to know which direction we need to move forward in the inner world. Take some time to consider what stage you are at today. Sometimes we may even go through the stages many times and peel down our own layers and society’s conditionings in order to come back to the joy and first love that we all had as babies or young children.

Stage 1 – Unhappiness and emptiness

Stage 2 – Perception shifts

Stage 3 – Seeking answers and meaning

Stage 4 – Finding answers and experiencing breakthroughs

Stage 5 – Disillusionment and feeling lost

Stage 6 – Deeper inner work

Stage 7 – Integration, expansion, Joy


Surrendering to Vocation

I truly related this blog post,because it stated the obvious—sometimes our careers are not our vocations, they are just a necessary obligation to uphold finances in our life. Here are a few quotes from the blog that relate to what I’m trying to say, because sometimes other people are able to say things in a more coherent, clear and elegant way.

On careers

This is part of life and while it’s not much fun, if you want to eat and provide for your family, it can be necessary. But with vocation, you don’t have to do all the hard work. With vocation, God is involved in the search and there are so many needs out there, doors will start to open that give you clues about where to go and what to be.”

Although, if you’re lucky enough, your vocation and your career CAN match up! (sadly, they often don’t for everybody)

On finding your vocation

“Give yourself a lot of exposure to works like the legend of St. George and the Dragon, or the Chronicles of Narnia, or the Lord of the Rings … stories and myths that became epics by inspiring courage to try great things that are way over your heads. That’s when you see the greatness of God and the greatness he’s put in you that you might never have suspected was there. These stories show us something about taking the way that is not always comfortable and enduring hardship for the sake of something greater than our own pleasure. They tell us that the battle-scars of love and sacrifice are not a burden, they are an adventure. And the really great tales aren’t just about the biggest, toughest conquerors. They are about children and hobbits and anti-heroes who are scared spitless but do what they have to do for a greater good. These stories also include the importance of selflessly doing the hard things that are boring and frustrating and tiring to get to whatever prize God has in mind.”

More than anyone else in the world, you’ve been able to watch the supernatural love and courage of your mom. If you want to become like anyone in this world, become like her. You didn’t get to see what an Amazon she was pushing each of you 11-pound guys into the world through sweat, blood, agony and shrieking …But you have seen how hard it was for her to suck it up, work hard and take on leading . I know you appreciate it and you love her, but also, remember that you carry her physical and spiritual DNA … there is something of her in each of you. Don’t squander that great and precious gift on what the world tells you that you need to do or be. Give that gift back to God.

I think this idea applies to many people’s lives. On the one hand, you might truly enjoy learning new things and new perspectives. However on the other hand, maybe you don’t have a specific career path. However one’s career path can help them with their vocational path in many ways.  That can be the magic in it sometimes—a career may not necessarily get you to the top or guarantee you amazing wages, yet if it can help a person discover their vocation, that might be what is truly more important. I’m telling you, it’s all about the journey.

At the end of the day, vocation will boil down to surrendering to what God (the Universe) has for you, because it’s far better than anything we’ll dream up for ourselves.

Freewill – A Rich Byway That You Create

It’s a new year, whoo! With the new year, I started to think, I wonder what the year has in store for me. And then I thought harder about that phrase and realized how that phrase almost implicitly is stating that the year is predetermined… but it’s totally not! So it honestly got me thinking about like philosophical ideas that I remembered from my philosophy class I took at university last year. I can admit it was one of my favorite classes. I’ve always been one of those people who thought our lives were predetermined, yet throughout college I’ve come to realize that we all indeed do have freewill. To an extent that is. Diving a little bit into the topic of philosophy, you might be asking, To what extent do humans possess free will?  This question has been one of the most debated topics of all time. According to Kane, an American Philosopher, there are traditional views that tell us Freewill is the idea that people have the ability to make decisions that they are morally responsible for. His Freewill argument emphasizes that it is up to us to make decisions and people have an open future with forking paths.

I totally agree with him that all humans possess free will. I’d like to make clear that the only free will I am discussing is the active free will that actually affects the future, rather than the passive compatibilism that does not. Kane states “most physicists and philosophers think that the world in not deterministic” (Kane 3). After looking towards the experts in this subject, we can see how science shows that free will is in fact compatible with physics.  Freedom of choice is essential to creating and shaping the experience of life. Free will can be seen on the human scale, but it can also be seen on an atomic scale. Both atoms and humans began in chaos and remain chaotic and random. This supports the basic idea of quantum mechanics, which states that “reality is not linear in its behaviour but discontinuous” (Silva).

Furthermore, not only is freewill important, but the belief that free will exists might even be equally important. In fact, studies have been conducted that conclude a lack of belief in freewill could end up breaking up societies. For example, if every crime in society was predetermined to happen like a natural disaster or a plague, than why should that person be held in jail for something they did not consciously control, but rather the mental disorder caused them to do it? “In survey research, we found that the more people doubt free will, the less they favor ‘retributive’ punishment” (Shariff and Kathleen). From this I inferred that not only do humans possess free will, but humans also need the belief that free will exists, in order to have a functioning society.

Since the beginning of time, freewill has been an essential part of not only history, natural sciences and human sciences, but also within religious knowledge systems. Ever since christianity became the one of world’s largest religion, the study of theology has grown and become a cornerstone to christian belief. Sometimes people wonder however, is it possible to posses both a scientific and religious outlook on the world? I think the idea of free will is one of the few forms that create a bridge between science and religion.

There were many people throughout history

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who either believed in compatibilism or determinism alone. One of the most famous philosophers, Einstein, said “God doesn’t play dice with the universe” (Silva). First, I’d like to start with the fact that this famous saying of his is often misunderstood. Nonetheless, I think having free will is essential to being a Christian. Michael Murray, a professor who studies the compatibility of science and faith, argues that “a good God would choose to make His existence and character less than certain for human beings, for the sake of their freedom. (He will do so, the argument goes on, at least for a period of tim

e in which human beings participate in their own character formation)” (Murray). It’s interesting that we can look at theology at many different angles. It’s also refreshing to stray away from common religious belief and the idea that God has already predetermined every man’s action. Free will is not just some crazy idea humans came up with, but it can be seen as evidence in how God reveals his love—by allowing his creation to have freedom. As Kane put it similarly, “I think the key to understanding the role of chance in free will is not to think of chance as a causal factor by itself, but rather to think of chance as an interfering ingredient in larger goal-oriented p

rocesses (Kane 41).

Because our planet’s societies depend upon the diversity that free will brings, we should appreciate the essence of having it. Freewill can be seen to exist from the beginning of time, throughout history, and within scientific and religious knowledge systems. It was and is required

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within our world because freedom of choice creates originality, creates moral responsibility in society and supports theology by reflecting God’s love. Not only do I argue this from my point of view, but I also support Robert Kane and several other experts who have studied freewill and other difficult topics like this one for many years. In summary, there may be several approaches to how this world is run. However, I find that a Free-will approach to life is inconsistent with deterministic ideas, therefore they cannot be compatible. In the end, free-will not only makes sense in the greater scheme of things, but it clearly exists and appears to be coherent throughout several areas of knowledge.

Words that Inspire

I was doing a devotional for an English class and we had to read a short Essay from some boring person in history (jk, I’m sure they were actually really important and contributed something) Anywayys, I really liked a portion of it. It really inspired me to be more open about struggles we go through. Because ultimately, I’ve learned that if you don’t talk about things, then they just eat you up inside and that darkness spreads and affects you in so many ways that others can’t see.

Here’s the exerpt; enjoy!

“When you feel that your heart is sinking under trouble, be simple and frank in saying so. Do not be ashamed to let your weakness be seen, or to ask help in your urgent need. By doing this you will advance in simplicity, in humility, and in trustfulness. You will go far to root out self-love, which keeps up a perpetual disguise in order to seem cheerful when it is really in despair.

If you nurse your troubles in silence they will grow stronger and finally overpower you, and the unreal courage that self-love creates will cause you a world of harm. The poison that goes into the system is deadly. The poison that comes out does no great injury. You must not be ashamed of seeing a free discharge from the sore in your heart.

I would give no consideration whatever to certain expressions that escape you, and that are merely the utterances of suffering in spite of your real self. It is enough if such expressions teach you that you are weak, and if you learn not to hide and cherish your weakness, but bring it to the light so that it may be cured.”