Monday, January 30, 2006

Post-modernism at a Crossroads

In my experience there are two types of post-modernists. There are those of us who see it as a cultural shift. We are tired of the constraints of modernism clumsily restricting our lives. I like to sum up this movement in one sentence: we are more interested in what is real than what is "right." We want to live life to the fullest, to be free to pursue truth and beauty. We don't want to be shackled by superstitions or irrational dogmas (or even by the dogma of strict rationalism). We tend to "deconstruct" any pre-held beliefs we hold, consider their merits, and form new beliefs based on the reality we find ourselves in. On a whole I consider it a noble endeavor aimed at liberating us from silly cultural restraints without eliminating restraint altogether. When we deconstruct something we find what is useful in it and replace it with something more appropriate. The idea is not to do away with society or restraint, the idea is to find what is real and subscribe to it rather than what society has termed "right" with no basis.

On the other hand are post-modernists who exactly what we avoid. They seek to use post-modernism as an excuse to eliminate restraint and personal responsibility altogether. In the Church this group of post-modern Christians use that title to reinterpret scripture to whatever suites their desires. They deconstruct anything they don't like and put nothing back in its place. They start with answers and frame the questions accordingly. They do not seek even what is real, just what feels best. They do not pursue truth and beauty, they pursue pleasure. And they are not really revolutionary in any way. People like this have been around in all cultures in all times. They are sometimes called hedonists. But now they have a catchy title of a movement that is still ambiguous enough that they can claim it gives them the right to behave the way they do. They try to sell irresponsibility and short-sightedness as revolutionary progress. In truth they stand against the ideals of the other post-modernists at least as much, and probably more, than the modernists.

My previous two posts about communism and the ensuing discussion prove that when immoral people become famous under the name of an ideal they forever taint that ideal. Because Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Stalin used "communism" any similarly named movement will be associated with them. Post-modernism has the potential to be an amazing movement in restoring vitality to our culture and our world. However, it is still a young movement and is defined in the popular mind by whoever is loudest in proclaiming they hold its views. If a Marx or Lenin picks up Post-modernism and makes their definition the accepted one then we will never be free of their influence and Post-modernism will become a tainted movement. That is why those of us dedicated to the moral ideals of Post-modernism need to work to define the movement on our terms. We must not sit by and watch some ambitious and immoral figure hijack Post-modernism for their own benefit. We must insist that Post-modernism is not really this ugly specter that threatens society and civility. We must take the chances afforded us, like blogs, to spread the best ideals of Post-modernism and combat those who would turn it into an excuse for anarchy and bacchanalism. As a movement we are at a crossroads, and our actions may determine whether history sees Post-modernism as society's redeemer or a scourge on the earth like communism.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Seeing Red Again

Do you like how I worked a popular song title in as my post's title? That wasn't my original intention, but I think its very clever.

Based on the comments left on my previous post it is time to write this follow-up. Let me begin by defining communism. To do so I start at Personally I find this definition misleading and inadequate. So I went to wikipedia. The article there is great. I recommend that anyone who thinks they understand communism to read this article. However, my definition of communism is farther still from the dictionary definition, so instead of communism itself, let's focus on the ideals embodied in communism, because that is what I mean when I say communism. For the rest of this post, when I say "communism" I mean "the ideal of communism." The goal of communism is to prevent the exploitation of the common man for profit. The dominant ideal is that of the worth of every man. The communist approach is to believe that every person has the same worth no matter what their social status, and as such should not be seen as a means to an end. Furthermore, communism asserts that each of us should be concerned with the welfare of everyone in our society and see it as our responsibility to help those in need. Communism stresses community. In America we look at Communism as a form of government, specifically one that opposes our own. That is not true, by my definition. In my opinion communism is a social construct, not a form of government. There have been talks and attempts of creating governments that uphold the communist ideal above all else. These have all failed, and I will talk about that later. But that doesn't mean that communism is those governments. Calvin set up a government meant to uphold Christian ideals with horrible results. That doesn't mean that Christianity is a failure, just Calvin's government. As with communism, I don't believe that Christianity should or can be the basis of any government in this life, but that doesn't stop me from being a Christian. Communism is a beneficial ideal around which evil governments have been built.

As I said earlier, we are accustomed in the US to see communism as a form of government. That prevents us from seeing the ways that our society conforms to the communist ideal. I think that our society is very communist in many ways. In fact, I am of the belief that Marx would not have felt that revolution was necessary had he lived in modern day America (on the other hand, modern day America may not look the way it does if Marx and others had not thought revolution was necessary). Here are some ideas that conform to the communist ideal and can largely draw their origins to communist thinkers: public education, minimum wage, child labor laws, overtime pay, payed time off, public transportation, pensions. There are more, of course, and there were non-communists that advocated similar practices. However, I contend that these are all consistent with the communist ideal. Capitalism alone would not stand for most of these institutions. Capitalism looks for the greatest profit. Capitalism alone does not care about individuals. When you add communism to capitalism you end up with a kind of Compassionate Capitalism in which humanity and profit are balanced. You can tip the scale one way or the other, leading to more socialist or more profit-driven societies, but I believe that both ideals are necessary for a functioning society. It is my personal belief that the communist ideals should be enforced by society and the capitalist by the government. And that is what makes me mostly Libertarian, but that is the subject of a previous post.

So this brings me to the much anticipated finale -- why communism cannot work as a formal system. As I stated earlier, the ideal of communism is the importance of each individual in a society. In order to care about the well-being of others one must have compassion towards them. And compassion cannot be dictated. When governments try to dictate compassion they become oppressive and evil. They come up with practices that lead to stagnation and poverty like forced equal distribution of wealth and the abolition of private property. These governments do succeed in eliminating a small private class that exploits the common man, but they replace it with a government that is even more exploitive. They narrow the exploiting class and broaden the group being exploited. They are evil. Trying to enforce compassion, or personal morality at all in my opinion, necessitates that a government have its hand in every aspect of each individual's life. This means that the government has to own all the wealth -- so it can be "correctly" distributed -- as well as observe each individual to make sure he is not violating the moral ideals in his personal life -- giving birth to "secret police" organizations. Furthermore, without the motivation of reward, there is a large class of people that will not put any effort into their work. This leads to a terrible economy in which most people are equal, but equal in misery rather than prosperity. There is no good way to make communism a forced system. It needs to be voluntary and stem from an individual desire to work for the good of society in general rather than themselves alone.

Communism, in my opinion, is an ideal. Like Christianity, it cannot be forced on people without disastrous results. However, past attempts by violent men to force this ideal on people should not lead us to reject it. Furthermore, our society is already heavily influenced by communist thought and conforms to its ideal in many ways. What is left is for us to further conform our own lives to match this ideal to achieve the benefits of a society in which everyone is cared for and each individual considers himself to be less important than the society at large. This leads to a Compassionate Capitalism in which workers and consumers are not exploited by owners and manufacturers in order to glean a greater (and immoral) profit. My intention in writing these posts is to express my belief that communism is not in and of itself evil, but forcing it on others is. Therefore we should not universally reject communism, only attempts to make it a form of government. Additionally, if we attempt to implement communist ideals in our own lives we may be able to change our society for the better and lead others to learn to live for something other than their own gratification and thereby lead more fulfilling lives. My final thought on the subject is that communism and Christianity share many ideals and that a more communist society is more conducive to moral Christianity, and perhaps if our society (not our government!) were more communist less Christians would find it so difficult to live up to the Christian ideals of self-sacrifice and love for those in need.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Seeing Red

During parts of my sophomore, junior, and senior years in high school I was a communist. I received a lot of different responses from different people, but was almost universally misunderstood. I was not a Stalinist, Leninist, Maoist, or even a Marxist. But there were few people who could consider the idea of communism as separate from any of those. I propose that American history along with the totalitarian governments that call themselves communist have caused most Americans to discard a whole notion of social structure that may be highly beneficial to consider. Let me preface this by saying that I am no longer a communist and do not advocate communism as a good form of government for any nation today -- my next post will detail why I don't think communism can work as a formal system of government. That being said I would like to address the benefits of communism as an ideal simply to combat the overwhelming misunderstanding that I have encountered when talking about communism.

The main ideal of communism is the elimination of need. Although the Soviet Union was evil and Americans were right in labeling it as un-Christian (although I don't know that I would say the American system is "Christian" in any meaningful way, either), there is nothing more Christian than the communist ideal. In fact, one of the only records of a communist society functioning well for more than one generation is that of the early church. The driving force behind ideal communism is the desire to eliminate suffering as much as possible. To do so each individual must consider the needs of every other member in the society to be more important than his own. Then when someone has a need that he can fulfill, he sacrifices his own comfort to provide for their need. This type of communism does not necessitate the elimination of currency or democratic government. Marxism does, Communism in general does not.

Communism became popular in the mid-1800's in Europe because the Industrial Revolution had created a culture of suffering for the masses at the hands of a small minority. Factory owners enacted near slave-labor on their workers with no heed to their health or safety. It was obvious that something needed to change, that a more communist approach to society was necessary. Marxism was one attempt. Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto and from that point on everyone equated Communism with his particular attempt to implement it in his society. I propose that there is a more general ideal of communism that does not answer many of the "how" questions and therefore is not bad or failed the way Marxism is.

Furthermore, Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, and all other supposedly "communist" systems that have been made into governments are not communist at all. In fact, they are totalitarian forms of government that are closer to the ideals of Fascism than those of communism. These governments increased the suffering of their people in the name of equality rather than easing it. These governments solidified absolute control over the common man by a very small ruling class. These governments used the name "communism" to cover their true nature and do not reflect in any way the true ideals of communism. Unfortunately, these governments have so polluted the average person's mind that it is difficult for them to separate the ideal of communism from these repressive regimes.

There is more I could say on the subject, but I think this gives a decent overview (especially after this on my last post). In summary, communism is an ideal dedicated to easing the suffering of each member of the society. To this end communism necessitates that every member of the society be willing to sacrifice his excess to eliminate another member's deficit. No country has successfully implemented anything like communism as a formal government and those that claim to are actually totalitarian. Communism is a valuable if unattainable ideal and should not be so quickly dismissed simply because bad people have been associated with it. The ideals of communism are particularly useful today because they combat consumerism, cut-throat capitalism, and ferocious individuality -- all of which are cancers eating away at our society today. As I said earlier, my next post will explain why communism cannot function as a form of government. However, we should still consider its ideals when considering what a good society is and how we can improve ours. If you ever talk to someone that claims to be communist, take time to figure out if what they mean is a wonderful ideal before dismissing them as anti-Americans in league with Satan.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I am alive. Every so often, at fairly regular intervals, I breathe in. The oxygen I breathe diffuses across thin capillaries in my lungs. From there it enters my blood stream and is carried to every cell in my body. In each of these billions of cells there is a flurry of activity as they grow, metabolize, and reproduce -- enacting their own rough approximation of our human existence. And it is life. But it also is death because in my life I will only breathe in so many times. Resting I breathe about once per second. Assuming that times of strenuous activity are offset by times of deep rest, if I live to be 90 years old exactly I will breathe approximately 2,838,240,000 times. That's just over 2.8 billion times. Right now I have lived for 21 years, 5 months, 27 days, and somewhere over 12 hours. That means that I have already breathed somewhere near 680,529,600 times. That means I have about 2.2 billion breathes left to take. There goes one. And another one. I'm counting down slowly. Counting to 2.2 billion, and then I won't breathe any more. For every cell that I create, one dies. And it's getting harder and harder to keep that ratio up. It won't be long, if it hasn't started already, that I will lose cells faster than I make them. My body will age and fail and die. In less than 2.2 billion breathes. But for some reason I still tried to get the closest parking spot tonight. My life is running down as I speak and I still worried about how my clothes look before I left the house. And I am completely representative of the human race in general by doing so. Any moment I may breathe my last. 2.2 billion is the upper limit, it could turn out that I only have 700 million breathes in my life. Any moment could be my last. But I still spend hours a day playing video games. I plan for what I am going to do years from now, without really paying attention to what I'm doing now. I complain, I make promises, I procrastinate --– in general I live as though my life is going to last for a very long time to come. And it may. 2.2 billion breaths is a pretty long time. A lot can be accomplished in that time. A lot of life lived. But in the end I certainly will die. There is nothing I can do to change that. But I usually never think of that. We obsess with being alive and staying that way, and we rarely think about the fact that no matter how hard we try it's only a matter of time until we fail. I will die. I've thought for a long time that I'd come to terms with that. In some ways I have. The idea doesn't scare me; I'm not in denial about the fact. But I am in denial about exactly what that means and exactly how fast that time is coming. I live each day as though it doesn't really matter, as though it's just another day in an endless series. I breathe each breath as though I will go on breathing forever. Although my mind has accepted the fact that I will die, my life does not show a comprehension of that reality. I hope that changes before I lose too many breaths. If I only get so many, I want to make each one count. I want to be fully alive in every moment as long as I still have some breaths left in me. I want to live life to the fullest, fully aware that it will end soon. I am aware of the world around me. My senses are rich and vivid. I breathe in. And I exhale.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Revelation of a Cynic

The opportunity afforded to its citizens by America is not some transcendent dream of freedom. Rather it is control. It is the wealth of time and resources to devote to control. It is the hundred and some years of wealth and time that have already gone to this end.

I have come to realize that no matter who we are, where we are, or what we are doing, our stories are all basically the same pathetic form. We spend our time awake each day moving between filling and fighting desires. We live from meal to meal, dreaming only of what we will next consume. Our relationships are based on satisfaction. Our lives are spent working for more new and better things. Our lives are dictated by pain and avoiding pain. And when you step back and realize the meaninglessness of all of it, the horrible cycle that is our existence, it drives you crazy.

And that’s why control is so appealing. We have been given what we need to ignore the pain. When we are satisfied we can forget that our existence is dictated by the void of what we lack. And in America we have the means to find something new to satisfy when the old fails. As long as we are distracted we can pretend that we are free. We can pretend that we are happy when in reality we’re merely content.

Somewhere inside of us there is a conflict between some transcendent existence and an animal life. And the animal is winning. By ignoring the pain we are losing touch with what it is to be human. Ironically enough it is when the animal within us takes over that we lose appreciation for nature. Because only a transcendent being can appreciate nature – to the animal it represents chaos, a lack of control. Nature threatens to interrupt our satisfaction. Nature threatens to take away the structure and control that we need to forget that our lives are pitiful and meaningless. In our own contrived world we are what is most important. In comparison to nature we find that we are small and insignificant. Something has gone horribly wrong as now we are annoyed by the sounds of nature and soothed by the sounds of machines. We have become a people of comfort and ease. We have become a people of paved roads and empty parking lots.

The American dream may have something to do with freedom and life, but the American reality is a world of transient comfort. It is a world with no roots, moving from place to place, relationship to relationship, never being able to settle on anything for long for fear disturbing the fragile ball of glass, of upsetting the delicate balance that keeps its passenger in stoic comfort while he waits for his turn to die. Few and lucky are those jarred from this catatonic slumber by events still too strong or unpredictable for the American machine to control.

The greatest irony yet is that we are only truly happy when we stop running from our pain and are present with it. We stop fighting the pain, stop filling the void with excuses and shallow relationships and events. Then we have time to think, and feel. And then we know what it really means to be human. The transcendent life is born out of pain. The animal life is consumed with avoiding it. If we could stop being in a hurry all the time maybe we could enjoy the journey instead of rushing through it as fast as we can, annoyed at the lack of technology to bring us instantly to our destination. Maybe if we weren’t so concerned about being comfortable we could learn to appreciate nature. By allowing nature to exist and not dominating it we can finally elevate ourselves above it.

But what then? When we have let go of our control and allowed the pain of existence to reach us and we realize that life as we know it is hollow, where do we go from there? How can we go on living when our eyes have been opened to the nothing that is the world around us? What life is there to live when we are aware that the life we have to live is a pathetic mold? What alternative do we have?

That is where true religion comes in – religion that gives meaning to life rather than covering pain. In a transcendent life there is no fear of a higher being, of God, because we no longer crave control over our lives. We have learned to let go of control, and therefore God is no longer an affront to our mode of existence. And with God introduced, the transcendent life becomes one that is livable. Without God the transcendent life is one of hopeless despair, and in such a situation blissful ignorance is far preferred. With God, however, the transcendent life becomes one of joy and fulfillment because God gives us what we can never have on our own – true love.

I propose that one can never really know love while living the animal life. In this life all we seek is satisfaction and comfort. Love, by contrast, seeks to provide happiness for others, even if it brings pain. The best an animal can hope for is to find satisfaction in knowing that they helped someone else, they can never truly be selfless. They are always working to provide satisfaction and comfort for themselves, even if the actions look the same as love. That is to say that no matter what actions an animal takes the basic reason he takes them is because he feels better after taking them than before. In the transcendent life the concept of joy is introduced. Joy is something that the animal cannot know, because in joy man is brought to a state of well-being that is totally disconnected from his level of pain. That is to say that his actions may only increase his pain but he still gets joy from them, and therefore is better off because of them. And when there can be joy then there can be true love, because now man can be made better without concern to his own pain, but instead with concern about others.

I propose also that even if one is to attain the transcendent life without God then he will not know love. You’re welcome to try if you think you can, but I do not believe that such an action can lead to anything but despair. In time such a transcendent man will again look to his own comfort and return to the world of the animal where he can find distractions that will cover his pain. This is because I believe that joy is something foreign to the human existence and can only come from God. Of course there is no way to prove this scientifically, so I challenge the doubtful to try, personal experience seems to be the only real proof of such a theory.

Finally I propose that few if any human beings can ever become fully transcendent. Even with joy and love we are of our basic nature too selfish to completely give up caring about our own pain. And therefore we are incapable of giving up our selfish task of living for numb comfort. However, I believe that the more transcendent we become the more fulfilling our lives will be. Additionally, God holds out the hope of a life after this in which we will be fully transcendent. I believe that is the true heaven we hope for. The animals mistakenly believe it to merely be a world without pain. I conjecture that more than a world without pain it is a world where we can completely give up looking to our own needs and fully give ourselves to one another. In that way we will find true and complete fulfillment. I can say this with some certainty because this is the example that God has given. Reasonably we assume that God is fully transcendent. His actions show that He lives not to avoid pain, but rather willingly subjects Himself to it for the sake of others, namely the human race. Therefore it is reasonable to believe that when we are like God it will mean that we are fully willing to give ourselves for others, whether or not there is pain. For those who doubt that such a world is the most satisfying I leave this final argument: to be like God is to be perfect and want for nothing. God is fully transcendent. God sacrifices His own comfort for that of others and gives no care to His own pain. Therefore to be perfect and fully transcendent is to give up your own comfort for others and give no care to your own pain. To work to that end is to be a disciple of Jesus and to become more like God. I find it completely reasonable to believe that such an endeavor can only lead to a better life that is more fulfilling. I cannot see how anything else is reasonable.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Things Money can Buy

I need to get more facts about this case, but it looks like the US is using its money and military to buy it exemption from international law. According to the article, the US has convinced Jordan to return US citizens accused of war crimes to the US rather than the international court in order to secure continued economic and military support. Now, I'm not a big fan of the UN and generally think they are useless. However, undermining them in this way seems absolutely inexcusable. How can we expect any country to follow international law if we buy our way out of it? It seems like we're doing about the same as Saddam in the oil-for-food scandal. If these people are guilty of war crimes then they need to be held responsible, especially if they were on orders from the US government -- we shouldn't be able to do whatever we want around the world just because we have the largest army and most prolific economy. We should not behave like the "rouge nations." On the other hand, if these people are innocent then why worry about it? If they didn't do anything wrong then it shouldn't matter if they are sent to the international court. Either I'm missing something in this story, which very well may be the case, or the US has way overstepped its bounds. This story makes it look like the US has decided that it is above international law. And based on our actions in Iraq it would then seem like the US wants to impose its own international law making themselves accountable to no one and everyone else accountable to it. If there is not something more to this story then I am deeply disappointed and disturbed. If there is then this is an example of ridiculously skewed and unethical journalism, because they do not present any information in this article to contradict the worst case.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Pat Robertson: Probably Crazy

Pat Robertson once again says something totally inane. Apparently he suggested that Ariel Sharon's recent health problems are God's way of attacking him because he is "dividing God's land." Through his statement, Robertson has shown a loose grasp of scripture, as he is wont to do these days. It seems as though he has read only small sections of the Old Testament. Maybe he's just senile and has forgotten everything on the right of 1 Kings in the Bible. What Robertson is insinuating is ridiculous and ludicrous. If God were going to kill people who try to divide Israel, wouldn't all the Palestinians be dead by now? Not to mention the leaders of almost every other Middle Eastern country? It seems quite ridiculous that the people who want to take Israel over by force are left alone while the man who tries to save it by peace (at least some times) gets the smiting. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that God punishes people who divide Israel. Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Rome, some Middle Eastern countries, and Great Britain have all owned Israel. Although most of the empires that conquered Israel eventually were destroyed, they prospered for at least awhile -- and more than one ruler's reign -- before Israel became independent again. Additionally, the original Israel was split into Israel and Judea from within after the rule of Solomon. And although God was not happy about it, He didn't strike down those who caused the separation just because they caused it. The Bible is clear that God is interested in the people of Israel far more than the land and there is no reason to believe that He would cause Sharon's severe health problems over the proposed separation. If Israel had been one country since its inception and those bent on its division or destruction always thwarted then perhaps Robertson's point would carry more weight. At present it just seems like another outrageous statement by an aging, out of touch old man. And I feel that, unless he gives good reason to do otherwise, that is the view of Robertson we should all adopt (if you hadn't already).

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Dust of Your Rabbi

If you're looking for Rob Bell's NOOMA video "Dust" in which he talks about the Jewish rabbinical tradition, go here.

In ancient Israel (Jesus' time, and probably awhile before that) every decent rabbi had at least one disciple. Some had a lot more. Jesus had hundreds, but he was probably an exception. From what I understand, to become a rabbi's disciple you had to prove that you were worthy by memorizing most of the scriptures and studying rabbinical writings enough to satisfy the rabbi's questions in a sort of interview. Once you were accepted by a rabbi you followed him around and tried to mimic everything he did and learn to be just like him. There was a sort of blessing at that time that translates (roughly I'm sure) to, "May you be covered by the dust of your rabbi." This was meant to say that you followed your rabbi so closely that you were covered in the dust his sandals kicked up. Basically, you learned what it meant to be a rabbi and a true follower of God by learning to be exactly like your rabbi in every way. You emulated him completely. You literally learned by following his example. And when the rabbi felt like a disciple could correctly mimic him and carry on his semi-unique personal theology (the word for which translates to "yoke," as in "my yoke is easy and my burden is light") that disciple became a rabbi himself.

This contrasts sharply with today's practice of pastors teaching exclusively through sermons. Sometimes these sermons are about theology, sometimes about practical living. Often they are forgotten quickly and no one ever makes sure that anyone pays attention or learns from these sermons. In fact, I bet that most people don't take away anything from most sermons most of the time. Jesus did preach to his disciples sometimes. But he also taught like a rabbi teaches -- by having his disciples follow him around and learn to be like him. There is a reason that rabbis felt it was necessary to teach by example to such an extreme -- if you don't teach someone expressly what to do in every situation you can't know that they are going to do what you think is right in any given situation. However, times have changed and we no longer believe that it is necessary, or even best, for everyone to have the exact same theology and life style as their pastor. But most of us still believe that our pastors should be leaders and teachers -- otherwise they wouldn't even qualify to preach sermons. Some may argue that all Christians are equal under Christ and so no one should be over another. However, the apostle Paul encourages us to find Christians who are more mature and live better than us to emulate, in a similar way, although not necessarily as extreme, as disciples followed their rabbis. Paul does make sure to say that no one should claim to be following him or another leader, but that everyone should follow Jesus. But in that we should follow the example of those who are closer to following Jesus perfectly to help us follow him better.

So, how many pastors today would be comfortable with some members of their congregation following them around, emulating their actions in order to learn the right way to live? How many pastors are confident that the way they interact with other members of the congregation, relatives, and friends is good and healthy? How many feel that they handle responsibility in work, finances, and home life correctly? I think not many. I think that some level of hands-on experiential teaching, rather than abstract preaching, not only helps teach the "disciple" better, but it also holds the teacher to a higher standard. Now, I think there was probably some arrogance among rabbis in Jesus' day that believed they really had everything right. There should be some middle ground, however, where mature Christians can lead by example even through their faults and mistakes. And I believe that doing so would be better for everyone involved. Everyone knows that pastors today are notorious for preaching one thing and living another, and this would help cure that. Furthermore, most church members today suffer from learning nothing at church and trying to figure out everything about life themselves, leading to isolation, bad choices and theology, and churches made up of individuals feeling totally independent from one another. Disciple-type learning would help those issues as well. I'm not advocating going back to the rabbinical method, but maybe even a few hours a week of learning by example would change the face of the Church in America as a whole as well as the lives of individuals for the better almost across the board. So this is a challenge and a plea to anyone in a position to do so -- please take initiative to teach others through your actions rather than just your words. Find them, don't wait for them to find you -- there are few people who wouldn't love some one to take this type of interest in them, but almost none of us will ask for it.