This does…

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Yes, and it’s very interesting.

Here are some adjectives: unique, poetic, and creative.

Now here are some artists:

I wrote this poem for Christmas.  It is my gift to you.  “For unto us a Child is born…”

___________________________________________________________________________________________

A Christmas Tree, Or Why I Prefer Ailanthus Altissima to Conifer

From the root of David, a tree of heaven grows

From the pavement cracked a stumbling stone

Ailanthus, not Tannenbaum, flowery blooms thy Holy Seed

A king to rise in poverty.

Away in a manger, through Holiest night, He lay

In Brooklyn, in Bethlehem, behold His face!

This rod, Jesse’s Son, a promised Child

Has come to shade our hearts, our face

They came from the East, the fields, the stars

Like nesting birds perched in the branch, the Tree

Hope, hope for Rachel’s sons, and joy to the world!

Our Lord has come!

And as the flower turns red, a mother cries

And you wept for the world as the snow flies

You leaves, your brilliant leaves, fall to the ground

And snow is a cold grave, a deep grave

But n’er deciduous this Babe could keep

For in his death a bud still thrives, still keeps

Graft, oh graft, to your severed side

Your sap, Your blood, Your life for mine

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Just follow the downloading instructions and then prepare to be amazed.  It is THAT good.  Phil Wickham has been blessed with an amazing talent.

Free Phil Wickham Worship CD.

I’ve decided to start a new series called Culture Critique.  In this series (which will be sporadic at best) I will examine different examples of culture which I personally find unique and worth mentioning.  I hope to even isolate some cultural watersheds.  The main impetus for this series will be your comments, so feel free to leave your thoughts.

Let me start by saying that (almost across the board) I despise the genre of music known as rap.  My reasoning behind this is simple- rap degrades women; rap is profusely vulgar; and a majority of rap is completely void of any real musical talent.  Before I start getting hate mail, I would quickly say that this is an opinion I have come to foster due to my experiences.  I would never claim across the board that rap is 100% bad.  In fact, this post deals with rap explicitly, looking specifically at an example of the genre I found startlingly unique.

The content of this installment looks at an artist from the UK named Dylan Mills, or as he is better known, Dizzee Rascal.  Dizzee is most often associated with a rap movement called “grime.”  Grime is described as a “sub-genre of urban music which first emerged in London, England in the early 2000s [and was characterized by] complex two-step break beats, generally around 140 beats per minute.” (1) In other words, grime is not rap, but sounds an awful lot like it.

On July 21 of 2003, Dizzee Rascal released his first album, Boy In Da Corner, which garnished critical acclaim for it’s genre.  The album is somewhat biographical, and lyrically relates a lot of the struggles and confusion Dizzee experienced growing up.  The album touches on issues of “teenage pregnancy, police brutality, and friends lost to the lure of crime and cash”. (2)  In his review of the album, Scott Plagenhoef of Pitchfork magazine writes concerning the ultimate aim of Dizzee’s tirades against a messed up world,

For all of his concern and meditation, Dizzee himself offers few suggestions and little hope. He can dish bravado with the best emcees, but despite the eloquent boasts, he remains fragile, apprehensive, and consumed by the possibility of failure. (3)

The album produces many startling and unique tracks, many of which break traditional stereotypes, both musically and lyrically, for its rap genre.  In this installment of Cultural Critique, I would like to focus specifically at the lyrical stereotypes broken in this album.  For the sake of length, I have chosen to focus on one track, entitled “Jezebel”.

“Jezebel” is the twelfth track on the album.  It is a song which “laments the cycle of teen pregnancy, blaming a promiscuous girl for bringing other future Jezebels into the estate.” (4) Since Dizzee is from the UK, some of his euphemism may be lost in translation.  A “jezebel” may be understood as a promiscuous woman.  The reason I have chosen to look at this track specifically lies in the fact that the track simply destroys the rap stereotype of loose women being praised for their promiscuity.  Instead, the loose woman of the story is portrayed as facing neglect, abuse, and even rape!  She is portrayed realistically as having contracted STD’s from her promiscuity.  In one stunning line, we read,

Raised in the church
Not knowing anything
Learned about boys
Ruined every thing

Through the entire song, Dizzee’s tone is immedately recognizable as mournful and quickly associated with regret.  However, the sad aspect of this entire song is that, much like Plagenhoef’s assessment, Dizzee is quick to point out the bad, but does not give a definitive means to correct it.  The most he can provide is a youthful wish for this Jezebel to return to her former years of innocence,

Yo, wishin’ she could take it back to the old school
And make better choice’s
Oh what a fool
But all by her side
But she wonder man
Only if she was six years younger
Damn

Aside from this fact, Dizzee Rascal has done something here deserving notice.  In a world where rap artists continually degrade women with their lyrics, Dizzee has made a statement- a statement of reality- a statement of truth.  In a world were women are treated as objects, women suffer.  If the genre of rap would realize this, it would be a better genre because of it.  I have provided the song in full below (thanks to YouTube) and have also provided the lyrics.

WARNING: The following song contains explicit dialogue.  Please know that I do not endorse this artist or this song, both of which were simply used for cultural critique.

Yo, look, look, look
They call her Jezebel
you might find her in your neighborhood
Always in some shit
Up to no good
Constant boasting bragging to her friends
Juiced every boy in the ends
Gettin’ outta school
She would truant every day
Always on the link
Different boy every day
Missed mathematics she was doing acrobatics
But not gym class
She was gettin’ doggy fast

Yo, they call her Jezebel
Friends call her sket behind her back
She never knew the clock
She was born of track
Tight top short skirt thinks she’s to nice
Hates love but she’s been deep in twice
Pass with, whoa can’t keep her legs closed
Always on the creep
Now she’s in too deep
Now she face’s neglect, abuse and rape
Man said that he’d kill her
If she try to escape

[Chorus]
Whats your name?
I’ve seen you about
I think your tromp (Boom ting)
I really hope your not a grim
I really hope your not a jezzy, jezzy
Where you from?
Hot stuff (Buff ting)
I really hope your not a grim
I really hope your not a jezzy, jezzy
I’ve seen you around
I think your tromp (Boom ting)
I really hope your not a grim
I really hope your not a jezzy, jezzy
Where you from?
Hot stuff (Boom ting)
I really hope your not grim
I really hope your not a Jezebel

You might find her at a house rave
For the fifth time
She’s gettin’ whined from behind
Had a bit of drink
So she’s acting kinda slow
She came with Natasha
But she’s leavin’ with Joe
Ricky loves jezzy but jezzy loves bling
Ricky means well but Ricky aint got a thing
Joe’s got a name
And jezzy loves fame
She wants a man to show
So it’s all about Joe

They call her Jezebel
On her way to get worked out
Get battery
And get kicked out
Jezzy weren’t expecting more then four
What could she say
She just did it anyway
Messed up caught a kinda STD
Gonorrhea, Herpes, no VD
Left bitter, left angry, left vex
But still loves sex
Passed it on to the next

[Chorus]

Pretty ma
Ain’t got a brain
Got no shame
Got juiced on the train
Went from daddy’s little girl
To daddy’s heart attack
House wreck a side
She could never go back
Raised in the church
Not knowing anything
Learned about boys
Ruined every thing

Aged 16
She was never full grown
She was in a family
Now she’s got one of her own
Two kids
Even worse
Two little girls
Two more of her
Thats two Jezebels
Two fatherless kids
One single mum
No longer young
But the boys still come
Yo, wishin’ she could take it back to the old school
And make better choice’s
Oh what a fool
But all by her side
But she wonder man
Only if she was six years younger
Damn

Here’s a sneak peek at a scene which didn’t make the final cut of the film script I am currently working on.  I hope you enjoy it!

INT. COLLEGE LECTURE HALL – DAY
Open in philosophy class.
STUDENT #1
Hey, dude, hey.
STUDENT #2
What’s up?
STUDENT #1
Were you in class, on the first day I mean?
STUDENT #2
Yeah.
STUDENT #1
Can I copy your notes?
STUDENT #2
Didn’t take any, the professor never showed.
STUDENT #1
(smirks) Thanks
The PROFESSOR enters.  STUDENT #1 raises his hand.  The PROFESSOR is looking down and shuffling through notes.  STUDENT #1 clears his throat, then louder.
PROFESSOR
Young man, I do not respond to grunts, coughs, or any other form of guttural emissions, and unless you are trying to prove to me that man is slowly returning to his Neolithic origins, I suggest you use words.
STUDENT #1
(caught off guard) I…I was just wondering if this was our first class this semester (beat) you see, the schedule said we had class last Thursday, and no teacher showed up…
PROFESSOR
What’s your name son?
STUDENT #1
Ryan…Ryan Davis.
PROFESSOR
(pause) Stand up Mr. Davis.
STUDENT #1 stands.
PROFESSOR
Before I can answer you’re question, you must answer mine.
STUDENT #1
(Shrugs) Yeah, sure.
PROFESSOR
What is your goal in life Mr. Davis?
STUDENT #1
Ummm…get laid?
Smirks from the lecture hall.
PROFESSOR
I don’t appreciate sarcasm in my classroom Mr. Davis…
STUDENT #1
…I wasn’t being sarcastic…
PROFESSOR
…and furthermore, true or not, the only thoughts I wished to be uttered in my classroom are those thoughts worth being heard in the first place, understood?
STUDENT #1
Yeah…
PROFESSOR
(addressing the class) Now, as all other human beings, Mr. Davis is demonstrating to the rest of us the wonderful phenomenon known as human speech.  As many of you know, human speech has it’s origins in the human brain, correct?  Yet it must be pointed out that while Mr. Davis exhibits the correct faculties in which a brain resides, does he possess the correct motor skills with which to use it? (muffled laughter from the lecture hall) I asked you a simple question Mr. Davis, a question I had hoped you would have answered using anatomy found somewhere in this region (points to head) yet somehow the works got all gummed up, and the question was answered using anatomy quite a bit further south. (muffled laughter) Now correct me if I’m wrong in saying this, but whenever a question is answered using any organ other than one’s brain, the person in question is usually assumed as being…hmmm, I’m drawing a blank…ah yes, there it is, mentally challenged.  Are you mentally challenged Mr. Davis?
STUDENT #1
No sir.
PROFESSOR
Glad to hear it son, glad to hear it.  Now I’m a fan of second chances, so I’m going to ask the question again, hoping of course this time you use the correct anatomy.  What is your goal in life Mr. Davis?
STUDENT #1
I don’t know, get a job I guess, get a wife, have kids…maybe buy some land somewhere.
PROFESSOR
An honorable endeavor Mr. Klein, but now I must ask you…what is your goal in death?
STUDENT #1
I don’t understand the question.
PROFESSOR
You understood the first one son, personally I don’t see a difference!
STUDENT #1
I suppose I haven’t given it much thought.
PROFESSOR
Exactly Mr. Davis, we have an honest answer, why should anyone give a 2 cent rip what happens to them when they die, right?
STUDENT #1 shrugs.
PROFESSOR
But now wait just a minute…something isn’t adding up here…are you a fan of math Mr. Davis?
STUDENT #1
Not particularly.
PROFESSOR
Well humor me, I need the name of a philosopher, any philosopher.
STUDENT #1
Aristotle?
PROFESSOR
Ah yes, Aristotle, a man of great moral aptitude and clairvoyance.  Now Mr. Davis, how long would you wager Aristotle lived, in years?
STUDENT #1
60?
PROFESSOR
Accepted, and when do you say he died?
STUDENT #1
Several hundred years ago?
PROFESSOR
Thousand Mr. Davis, several thousand…now taking into consideration the amount of years he lived compared to the amount of years he’s been dead, mathematically, where should his true concern lie?
STUDENT #1 shrugs.
PROFESSOR
It is the very thing the ancients got right which you are currently getting so terribly wrong Mr. Davis.
STUDENT #1
Whatever. (sits back down)
PROFESSOR
I don’t recall giving you permission to sit son. (STUDENT stands) Now as Mr. Davis has so aptly given way to our first lecture of the year, I believe I will begin class with a story about an ant.  “There was once an ant who lived in an anthill. When he was young, he dreamed of being an astronaut, or perhaps even a cowboy, it didn’t really matter which as long as it was one or the other.  Yet his dream came with no comprehension or reason other than the romantic childish infatuation of something beyond himself, some big iconic image.  The ant thought to himself, ‘If only I could be an astronaut or a cowboy, then I could stamp myself, I could impress myself on the world; I could defy my grand worthlessness in this cosmos by standing out among these other ants!’  But by 20 years he was nervous, by 30 years he was damn right scared, and by 40 years  he’d thrown up his white flag, coming to the terrible realization all that was left to do in life was to eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow he could die!  But no, the ant could not accept that fate, that utilitarian lie, there must be more to his pitiful existence!  So the ant began by trying to find meaning in himself, and was somehow able to convince himself that somewhere buried deep in within his tiny bowels lied the strength to spin the universe on his tiny finger, all he needed to do was believe in himself.  But once again, he’s chasing astronauts and cowboys.  He marched around with his head held high until one inevitable morning he woke up, looked into the mirror, and exclaimed, ‘Oh god, I’m an ant!’  After coming over the initial shock of  reentry, he tried to save his new-found doubt in himself by looking for meaning in the masses.  ‘I am part of something bigger’, he thought, and continued to think until it dawned on him that it didn’t matter whether you had one ant or a hillful of ants, for no matter how he looked at it, you’ve still just got ants!  ‘I need to go bigger still!’ the ant thought, and decided to embrace ideals and beliefs which transcend our cosmos. The infatuation returned to that image he could neither impress on the world nor impress on himself, so it was in turn impressed on something beyond the world and beyond himself.  He gazed and marveled at his great discovery only to be blinded by its artistry, for the cosmic joker named Death was lurking behind the tapestry.  And as a careless footfall occurs without second thought, so too was life crushed out from the ant. He lay there, squeaking and dying in utter misery.  He raised his arm toward heaven and shook his fist with all the vehemence his dying body could muster, only to fall back suddenly- he shook his fist at nothing.  For as his life flashed before his eyes, and he compared himself with the rest of the cosmos, who was he that anyone up there should care for someone as small as an ant?” (pause) “There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own.” (monologue shift) People cry foul when a rich billionaire sits on his fortune without giving a second thought about those less fortunate, I say let him sit, for what makes one ant any more deserving than the next?  People chase after world peace, saving the environment, perhaps adding 10 years to their lives; they’re chasing astronauts and cowboys.  The ancients got it right Mr. Davis- the only hope we got is something or someone will pity us after death, for if we are to pass into that shadowy realm to find nothing, we truly are the creature most to be pitied.  You ask why I didn’t show up for class last Thursday?  A more important question may be, why the hell does it even matter? (pause) Your syllabi are on the front desk.  The Sartre reading is due next Thursday.  Class is dismissed.

NOTE: The professor in this dialogue is a devil’s advocate, more or less.  He is the antithesis of hope, and is contrasted with the hope the film script ultimately shows in Christ.

Maybe this isn’t a review.  Maybe it is.  I’m not sure.

Maybe it’s a plug.  Maybe all I’m really saying is “watch this film.”

Maybe the film speaks for itself.

I am contented to say that regardless of the type of style of music you listen to, there is something in this to please the tongue of any musical taste.  Something here is transcendent; that is, something here will defy your idea of music, but also define it.

Sigur Ros is an Icelandic experimental pop/rock group.  I use the term “pop” very loosely, for their music is simply incomprehensible in that diction.  They have been around since the late 90’s, and have produced several records.  They have not been as mainstream as many other artists of their genre, but they are gaining recognition, with assistance from YouTube.

Recently, the band put out a documentary film entitled Heima, a Icelandic word meaning “home”.  It is partly a music documentary, and partly a documentary of the beautiful Icelandic landscape.  The content of the DVD is comprised of several free, unannounced shows the band put on in different towns and locations around Iceland.  The final product is an unparalleled musical journey, which is sure to amaze each viewer on some level.

What Sigur Ros has done in their musical journey will leave you with eyes that yearn for the images to last forever, and ears that hope for the sound to never stop.  In this film, nature becomes an amphitheater and you, the viewer, become a passive observer.  Perhaps you are a bystander who heard these haunting sounds, and followed the sound to the source; perhaps you are a bird, resting briefly from flight, only to soar away again as the music lifts your wings; perhaps you are the landscape itself, with a beautiful symphony being played in your harshest regions.

The lyrics to much of Sigur Ros’ music is meaningless.  By meaningless, I do not mean that words are being misused, simply that words are not being used at all.  To clarify, Jon (the band’s lead singer) simply creates a melody or harmony with a varied falsetto; he produces vocal inflections with no real meaning.  This is, however, not universal to their form- a large portion of their songs are comprised of true lyrics with real words.  The issue then resides in the fact that the band, being true to their heritage, sings in Icelandic, and therefore we, the monolingual, are left with lyrics that are truly incomprehensible.  But here a new beauty arises, for we have (perhaps) our first real glimpse of what it means for lyrics (or lack thereof) to compliment the music, and not simply music that compliments lyrics.  In other words, Jon’s voice has become the last instrument in the symphony.

The film, and editing done therein, were Oscar worthy in my opinion.  There is a scene which recounts an old fishing factory which had long since closed, which is no huge matter, but the way in which the history is presented, along with the song selection, will bring one to tears.  Another scene depicts a controversial damn which was built in Iceland, and subsequently had negative effects on the surrounding ecology.  The song played during this scene is simple, but the empathy it creates will cause one to weep.

I have provided the film (thanks to YouTube) below, in order from top to bottom.  My advise is to throw on some headphones, sit back, and watch the film in full.  You will be glad you did.

Note: Although I apprieciate Sigur Ros’ musical talent, I do not necessarily endorse every aspect of their personal lifestyle.  Nor do I promote the nudity used in album art of their newest album.  If clarification is needed, feel free to ask.

I recently saw Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight in theaters, twice actually.  It has been a LONG time since I thought I film so well done that it was worth seeing in theaters a second time.  When I say “well done”, I don’t necessarily mean it was an easy trip for the spirit.  It was a rather dark film, and at times hard to watch.

Let me first say that I was blown away at the sheer caliber this film brought to the table under the guise of a comic book spin off.  Granted, the first Batman film Nolan put together was very well done, but this film took the initial momentum provided in the first film, and then proceeded to blow it out of the water.  It was that good.

I’m not going to bore the reader with an unnecessarily long summary of the film, I recommend the reader see the film for themselves, for the plot itself would take most of this entry’s length.

The aspect of the film I wish to highlight, the item I found particularly intriguing, was that of morality; to say it straight, The Dark Night approached ever so close to a Shakespearean morality play, closer in caliber than any other film of it’s genre.

For brevity’s sake, I wish to highlight only one key player in this morality play- the Joker.

There was something about the Joker which left a very bad taste in my mouth.  It was not the fact that his sadistic nature was so brilliantly acted by the late Heath Leger, nor even the fact that the Joker’s level of violence and perversion caused many (including myself) to turn away from the screen at certain points in the film.  No, the bad taste was left for the simple reason that the Joker was inexplicably, and completely, human.  To clarify, many villains in super hero films come across as frightening characters, but inevitably unbelievable as reality ultimately gives way to fantasy.

Now, a swift outcry the above statement will undoubtedly incur is one of disagreement.  How was the Joker a picture of humanity?  If anything, he was a picture of inhumanity, right?  First, I agree, the Joker was a picture of inhumanity, and to clarify, I am not saying that his human nature was anything to be aspired to.  But perhaps that’s the point?  As we look at his character, what do we see?  Rebellion?  Aggression?  Sin?  Let us look at the Joker in his own words:

“You have all these rules and you think they’ll save you.”

“The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules.”

“It’s not about money… it’s about… sending a message. Everything burns.”

“I’ll show you, that when the chips are down, these uh… ‘civilized people’, they’ll eat each other.”

“See, I’m not a monster…I’m just ahead of the curve.”

“Madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little…push.”

(to Batman) “You just couldn’t let me go could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible aren’t you? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won’t kill you, because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”

(to Harvey Dent/Two-Face) “You know what I am, Harvey? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught one. I just do things. I’m a wrench in the gears. I hate plans. Yours, theirs, everyone’s. Maroni has plans. Gordon has plans. Schemers trying to control their worlds. I am not a schemer. I show schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are.”

(to Harvey Dent/Two-Face) “Look what I have done to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple bullets. Nobody panics when the expected people get killed. Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if the plans are horrifying. If I tell the press that tomorrow a gangbanger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will get blown up, nobody panics. But when I say one little old mayor will die, everyone loses their minds! Introduce a little anarchy, you upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I am an agent of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos, Harvey? It’s fair.”

“Why so serious?”

Do we see any recurring theme?  The Joker is a self-proclaimed agent of chaos and hater of order/rule, this much we see.  Yet the irony lies distinctly in the fact that the Joker does not believe himself to be crazy.  In fact, he distinctly states this in the film.  However, based on his brutal actions, how is this statement rationalized?  The key here is that of morality, and if we read between the lines, we will see a philosophical treatise being promoted by the Joker, namely, in a world where morality can only be designed and dictated by the morally depraved, there are only two the logical alternatives, and they are chance or self-rule.  The problem with these two alternatives is that they lead to a system which is, ultimately, unlivable.  Chance (promoted in the film by Harvey Dent/Two-Face) is indeed a fair system in as much as everyone gets the same treatment, but it is also a faulty system, for it is unable to fix the inherent problems within its own system, namely, injustice.  Granted, injustice is also a problem when morals are created by immoral people, but the key difference is that in their system, injustice can be addressed, and even corrected.  In a system of chance, a flip of a coin is still and flip of a coin.  Self-rule, the other alternative, is another viable presented option.  Yet in this system, morality is no longer understood in terms of society, but in terms of the individual, and justice is therefore made null, for my scale of morality may be severely obtuse to your own.

The Joker succeeded in being a active and vibrant proponent of his own philosophy, of this much I am sure, and as we peered into his dark heart, perhaps we saw our own?  The chaos of his heart, the chaos of our own.  The rebellion of his heart, the rebellion of our own.

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.  They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness.  They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Thought they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” – Romans 1:28-32

Who is Paul describing here?  It’s not the Joker, for believe it or not, he is describing the hearts of all of those apart from Christ!  In the Joker, we see the utter rebellion of our own hearts against the law of God.  In the Joker, we see our sinful heart’s innermost desire, autonomy from all else, where all that is left is a system of chance acting on chaos.  We would be gods ourselves, answering to no one, and in a world with no ultimate authority, the only sensibe way is to live without rules.

But our hearts have born testimonies against us, and we are left to plead our case against a righteous Judge, one that does not give in to partiality.  The punishment shall fit the crime, and the deserved punishment is death.

This is the truth.

Yet there is another truth, one which succeeds where the other fails.  This truth bears with it a most amazing realization, namely, the Joker himself (upon repentance) is not excluded from Mercy.  He is not excluded from Grace!

“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” – Romans 5:8-11

As for me, I have decided to follow Jesus.  I rejoice in the grace of God which is found in the life and death of His Son.  I rejoice that God raised Him up from the dead, so that we now have an advocate in heaven, pleading on our behalf.  Christ has taken my Joker’s heart, and is renewing it.  The decay, the rot, even the smeared face-paint are being gently washed away with the blood of the Lamb.

I recently completed one of the books on my reading list for this summer.  It was called The End of Reason by Ravi Zacharias.  In his book, Zacharias responds to the attack made on a “Christian nation” by the famous “pop-atheist” Sam Harris.  Zacharias clearly and lucidly refutes Harris’ attack on God as “nothing more than a figment of one’s imagination.”  He also responds to Harris’ attacks on Christianity as “regularly practicing intolerance and hatred” along with affirming the “dependability of the Bible…[and] the power and goodness of God.”

Zacharias, who was not always a Christian, began his book with many personal statements on his own atheism, and his ultimate suicidal thoughts due to this worldview.  As a philosopher himself, he related best with the atheist philosopher Camus , who wrote, “There is only one serious philosophical question, and that is suicide.  Judging whether life is or is not worth living…”  Zacharias himself attempted suicide, but failed, and wound up in a hospital.  There he was given a Bible, read the gospel, and was saved.

After his own faith story, Zacharias spends the rest of the book explaining how the Christian religion stood up to his own philosophical inquiry as the best representation of reality.  His argumentation was powerful and direct, and can be summarized thus:

Every person possesses a paradigmatic approach to understanding reality.  The correct philosophic question is not, therefore, an intraparadigmatic assessment of truth, but an interparadigmatic assessment of truth.  If everyone possessed the same paradigm, it would be an intraparadigmatic case, but this is simply not the case.  Therefore, for example, to dismiss anothers worldview as “childish” based on an intraparadigmatic assessment is admissible only if you have interparadigmatically assessed your own worldviews truth.  In other words, to say the God cannot exist because all that exists is nature is a faulty argument because it assumes a naturalist worldview.  The question must therefore be, “Which paradigm best holds up as the most accurate assessment of reality?”

Zacharias then points to four foundations of reality which each paradigm must address in order to be recognized as the best assessment of reality, and they are: origins, meaning, morality, and hope.

I am not going to elaborate these points, for I want to give you, the reader, the option to pick up this book and read them for yourself.  But I will say that Zacharias give powerful arguments for Christianity as being the best assessment for reality based on these aforementioned foundations.

Overall, I found this book to be a short, but powerful tool for the Christian apologetic mind.  I would highly recommend this book, along many other titles by Zacharias (for a list, contact me).

9 out of 10 stars.