Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

A cool walk with Captain Kierkegaard

Tonight, it is about 40 degrees F. (3 to 5 deg Celsius). I guess I am cold blooded, because I adore this weather. I took a walk tonight. Feeling the wind on my face makes me feel so alive. It’s so great to be free…

I read the story of of John Sperling sometime ago. In case you don’t know, he’s a billionaire who made is money starting the University of Phoenix, and then wrote the story in an autobiography. He mentioned how he began to struggle with thoughts of suicide, and, concerned for himself, went to speak with psychologist. The psychologist listened for several sessions then said, “John, there is nothing wrong with you psychologically. What you need is some philosophy.” So, Dr. Sperling sat down and studied philosophy. As he came to understand philosophy and apply it to his life, he found a slow peace building within him.

For a long time, I didn’t think I needed philosophy. Philosophy is “…the study of general problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, truth, beauty, justice, validity, mind, and language.” Philosophy is differed from more stereotypically religious ways of studying those issues in the fact that philosophy seeks to be rational, systematic, and have each point open to debate.

The Church presented me with a prepackaged world view, which I sincerely believed to be systematic (though it wasn’t). When I no longer placed faith in the Church to help me understand God, I didn’t trust them to help me understand the world that I believed God had created. This left me suddenly rudderless.

I then came to doubt the existence of a personal God. [My usual note here: this doesn’t mean that I think there is no God. It means I see no evidence that if God exists, he relates to folks in away that most people would consider “personal”.] I’d gone from rudderless, to boatless!

I had so many questions and so few answers. Bit by bit, I was able to reason out a world view. I made some false steps along the way, but I was bothered mostly by questions of my past. What had the purpose of this past event been, that past event been? Why had this happened to me? Why did this person say this thing? Perhaps the most bothersome was, “If relationship X was never meant to go anywhere, what was it for?”

Recently, I began studying existentialism. I’d read about it before, but only in the context of which parts were congruent with the Bible (and therefore “right”) and which parts were in-congruent with the Bible (and therefore “wrong”). [Wikipedia has an excellent article on the subject, here.]

It’s so beautiful! Elegance is “…is the attribute of being unusually effective and simple.” Existentialism, when well explained, is one of the most elegant philosophies I’ve ever read. I think I have been accidentally sneaking up on existentialism since I finished reading through the Bible last February.

I think it’s my newly discovered embrace of existentialism that has helped me find so much peace over the last few months. It helps me get a grip on my place in the world. As I walked along tonight, I enjoyed the cool air as much as the complete absence of guilt. I’m just so glad to be me, here, now.

October 3, 2008 Posted by | atheism, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Deutschland Ho!

Today, was my first full day in Germany.  I woke before sun began to shine futilely on the fog.  Drinking my morning coffee on the balcony, I watched the cars cut through the mist on the road in front of my suite.   It was a bit chilly, low 40’s to me, around 5 to them. I went to various offices to receive and give out various bits of paper.

At the end of the day, I took a walk.  Fine, black gravel paths weave in and out of the stands of trees and woods that spring up all over the base.  The paved paths are hexagonal cobblestones instead of plain concrete.  They curve and twist instead of going in straight lines, complimenting rather than dominating the landscape.

I stopped under a stand of trees where some birds were calling into the gathering night, listening to their music intertwined with the whisper of wind in the trees.  Far away I could here the roar of a jet being getting a test run. Its a throaty, rich noise, full of power and the possibility of menace.

As I stood there, I experienced something I am not sure that I have ever felt about a place before.  Instead of wanting to change this place, I’m just happy to be apart of it.  I don’t want to be the boss here, I’m happy with here.  I just want to be me.  I just want to live.

Its an awesome feeling, in the old sense of the word, like standing at the base of a mountain, or the top of huge waterfall.  I began to have this feeling when I stepped out of the plane.  The Frankfurt Airport, was enormous, bustling, and silent.  There was an “at-peaceness” that hung over the place like a cloud.

It’s my first day.  Some of this will pass; I have a very mercurial personality, which is on the upswing right now, but first impressions are so important, and Germany has made an enormous first impression in me.

I wonder what I will learn here.  What spiritual journey can I have here in  the crisp air and beautiful land?  What can this culture teach me about what it means to be a human, an American, and ultimately myself?  What meaning and purpose can be purchase by a man without religion?  And at what cost?  How will my atheist world view and deist theology serve me in this new place?

I been excited for the future before and rarely excited for the present, but this something special and wonderful.

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment