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For Jesus And For The Culture. . .Being Black, Christian and a Millennial In America

Philosophical Truth and Ethics: Is It Science-ing Morality?

Dear Reader:

When it comes to philosophical truth and ethics, there are a lot of different ways to look at things. Some people analyze the concepts based on scientific principles, while others may take a more spiritual or religious approach. No matter which way you slice it, though, I think there is an essential core truth inside of us all when it comes to morality. We may call it different things – our conscience, our higher self, or the holy spirit – but I believe that deep down we all know what is right and wrong. This inner truth is what guides our actions and choices, even when we may not be consciously aware of it. It is what gives us a sense of compassion for others, and what drives us to act by our values. And while there may be times when we make choices that go against this inner truth, I believe that ultimately it is always there, waiting to guide us back to the path of righteousness.

Although I recognize that college philosophy classes are a nightmare for Christians, I’m asking you to put aside that classroom trauma for a minute while you read this. 

What are philosophical truth and ethics, and why should they be studied as a science

Philosophical truth is deceptively simple to define: it is the agreement between our thoughts and reality. For example, the statement “the earth is round” is a philosophical truth because it accurately describes the shape of the earth. In contrast, statements like “I am happy” or “that dress is blue” are not philosophical truths because they are based on our individual opinions. However, even though the definition of philosophical truth is simple, actually determining whether a statement is true can be very difficult. This is because we can never know for certain whether our thoughts accurately reflect reality. As a result, philosophers have long debated how we can know whether a statement is true.

Ethics, on the other hand, concern themselves with right and wrong conduct. Unlike philosophical truths, which can be verified objectively, there is no agreed-upon definition of what constitutes right and wrong conduct. Instead, ethical principles are based on our individual beliefs about what is good or bad behavior. As a result, ethical debates are often more emotional than intellectual; people tend to feel strongly about what they believe to be right or wrong. Nonetheless, ethical principles are an important part of our society, and philosophers have long studied how we can develop sound ethical systems.

One of the famous and most done philosophy/ethics exercises in college classes is to think about what if you had to take a life to save many lives. The most prominent example is if you could go back and kill Hitler, would that be wrong? We all know that the bible says point blank murder is wrong. But there’s that niggling feeling in my chest about whether it would be wrong to kill Hitler- a man who led to many many people’s deaths. I don’t have an answer. Philosophy teaches us that it’s okay not to have an answer and to grapple with facts, feelings and spirit. Ethics strengthens our notion of what is acceptable in our society. 

Both philosophical truth and ethics should be studied as sciences because they help us to understand the world around us. By learning about different ways of knowing and different ethical systems, we can develop better methods for determining what is true and what is right. In addition, philosophy and ethics provide us with a language for talking about complex ideas. Without these disciplines, we would be limited in our ability to communicate and grapple with difficult problems. Ultimately, philosophy and ethics should be studied as sciences because they make us more thoughtful and reflective citizens of the world.

What implications do philosophical truth and ethics have on society as a whole

The search for truth and the study of ethics has always been closely linked. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle famously said that “the aim of the ethical life is a good life,” and many philosophers since have agreed that living a good life is the best way to find happiness and fulfillment. In recent years, however, some philosophers have argued that truth and ethics are two separate domains. They claim that society does not need ethical values to function and that individuals can pursue their happiness without being concerned about the greater good. While this debate is sure to continue, it is clear that both truth and ethics play an important role in our lives. Truth helps us to understand the world around us, while ethics give us guidance on how to live our lives. Together, they provide a foundation for a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Tell us what you think, can ethical theories are tested and proven, or are they purely speculative? Is there a way to reconcile the differences between different ethical theories?

Church as Family 

Dear Reader: 

I want to encourage you to use church as a resource. I know its not a happy place for alot of people and even those who engage in Church may be relunctant to fully go all in. But do it !

WAYS TO ENGAGE IN CHURCH TO FIND FAMILY

  1. Join a team. It does not have to be a visible team like the worship team or the ushers. Perhaps your best friend is on the prayer team or on church admin team. Perhaps you are the undiscovered church spreadsheet guru, perhaps you put the sound in sound team. 
  2. Go to Events. Churches are notorious for having social events. Perhaps you’ll like Wednesday night small group meetings. Perhaps your place is at Game Night. Perhaps you need to be a Youth team leader and you like hanging out with the youths and picking up whatever it is “kids these days” say. Perhaps there is a church potluck maven in you and you make the best green beans this side of town. You never know until you show up. 
  3. Connect with people during the week. They say the church is the people and not a building. That means that when you leave you should still be fully engaged in community; you can still plug in. There are quite a few ways to keep in touch with church folks. Not just the standard Facebook, Instagram, etc. The Bible app is something I’ve found very helpful in engaging with church folks. I get to see what they’re reading in their word. We can join in and do the studies together. We can encourage one another.  We can also just call people. I am not team phone but sometimes we just need to call people up, especially in the current moments in world history. It seems the world is just unhinged. It might be a good time to catch up. 
  4. GO OUTSIDE. Maybe you need to make a coffee date with some church friends. Maybe a hike, a bowling trip,something. Go outside and engage in life with people. It’s especially hard to do that these days when it feels like we don’t know how to be among each other in these weird times of kinda after  the pandemic- yet still in a pandemic- whatever it is – right now. 

I hope you can give yourself the time and space to heal from church trauma. I hope you can then reach out and seek friends/ community. 

How to Build your Family of Choice

Dear Reader, 

For some, relationships with family are simply irreparable. Last week we learned that God wants us to have a full life and not continue to retraumatize ourselves just because they’re family and we feel like they have to be in our lives. 

For people who simply cannot reconcile, there is always a family of choice. Don’t feel sad or ashamed about having one. The bonds of family of choice and the bonds of friendship can be strong, healthy  and help you to thrive. 

But honestly, where are you supposed to find these people? The answer: everywhere. Making friends as an adult always seems like an arduous task. However, you have things you like and don’t like, you have interests, hobbies and life activities. There lies a place to find a new brother or sister. You can find yourself a walking buddy, a sewing circle, an Anime Con friend, etc. We were not meant to walk this world alone.  You might find a family even in church, if you’re so inclined. Church is place that may be traumatic for some.. So perhaps you might want to find your family of choice somewhere else…at the Pilates studio, at the YMCA, or at the meditation studio.

Take your time. After your trust has been broken, don’t fall head first into friendships. While there are people out there who can support and hurt you, there are also people who live to hurt others. Find your tribe and avoid the others. Pray. Ask God to help you find some people to walk alongside you. 

How do you know if it’s a mere conflict or irreconcilable differences?

Dear Reader: 

I know you do not want to hear this but some of you have to walk away from your family and make a family of choice. For some of us, a brief moment away (6 months, 1 year or 2) provides everyone with enough guidance and perspective to get their act together. For some of us, the family is a toxic environment that God needs you to step away from so that you can heal. 

How do you Know When You Have to Go?

  1. When you’re not valued as a person. I can give you some examples of when that’s clear. If you are biracial and you can’t go one thanksgiving without someone calling you the nword, that’s not just ohhh they are old and it’s a historical term. That’s someone who doesn’t love you. Who cannot support you being who you are. Who does not want you to thrive. 
  2. When there’s physical violence. Physical violence is a big no. If you are experiencing physical violence in your family life as an adult, you need to get up and go. Go somewhere. Go to the ER. Go to the Counselor. Go to the church house. Go to anybody house but the house you came from. 
  3. When there’s violence to your psyche. It is common knowledge that abuse takes many forms. While verbal, emotional abuse , harassment etc is hard to prove in court… you can feel it’s effects. God wants you to have peace. He wants to you to have an abundant life. Please ask for help. For some of us, this may be hard to identify. Sometimes these comments and behaviors have been happening our whole lives so we have no idea what’s happening. It may be prudent to set up a boundary first and see if the other person respects it. Show people how to love you and if they won’t … then go. 

This is not an exhaustive list. I am sure there are more situations where it’s absolutely Biblical to get up and go so that you can heal. I hope that God grants you the spirit of discernment so that you can know when that is and reach out for the earthly help available. 

Are you in Rebellion or walking in God’s plan for your life?

Dear Reader: 

Sometimes God’s plan for your life doesn’t make sense to anyone. It’s not just when its something unconventional like being a missionary and moving down to Guatemala or somewhere you’ve never been with a two year old. It can be something good and very ordinary like becoming a lawyer.

When I heard God call me, I thought the idea was crazy. I took the idea to my brother and my  brother asked me if I was sure I was ok? When he asked if I thought I was mentally sound enough to withstand the immense pressure that is law school, I said…I don’t know. To be honest, I didn’t know. 

But the call was crystal clear, I asked God for a full scholarship to a very specific school. I didn’t just ask, I made a demand. I was like if you want me to do this, do this for me and God came back… and came correct. How could I say no after that? 

After the non- warm response from my brother, I enrolled and more or less kept it to myself. It wasn’t until I was in the middle of my second year of lawschool that my father exclaimed in surprise… so you’re really actually trying to be a lawyer. Perhaps he thought it was like all my other majors, attempted degrees and certificates… That I would try it and then drop it when my interest waned. Perhaps he was still holding out hope that I would go to medical school. And law was rebellion to the idea of being a doctor.  Who knows?

Sometimes you are not in conflict with God’s plan, other people are ( even family and closest friends). In those times, perhaps its best to keep the idea to yourself. It’s better to guard your heart. Imagine if my brother had managed to talk me out of the path that was already laid before by the divine. Imagine if my mother’s snide comments could keep me from God’s plan.  Sometimes the best plan of action is to keep your mouth shut and to keep in prayer. 

What to do When You are Not Sure:

  1. Ask God. The closer you are to God the clearer the communication about who you are his plan for you are. 
  2. Turn off the screen. Sometimes You need to be quiet to hear.
  3. Go to corporate worship. Sometimes the presence of God is more palpable in actual church. You are not meant to be alone. Maybe your small group leader can speak life into you. You won’t know that if you ain’t at small group. ( I know I’m talking to someone now. lol) 
  4. Don’t Google It. Sometimes looking at the cost, or the list of what you need to do will choke out the seed of what God wants to do with, for and through you. Don’t choke the seed. Let God grow it big enough so that you don’t kill it when its time to make big moves)
  5. Zip your lips. Right now is the season for the Lord to water the seed. Don’t tell your brother, mother, father, auntie, second cousin, etc about the idea the Lord gave you til its ready. Til the seed has been watered and nurtured far enough into growth that a stray comment won’t kill a dream. 

I hope that helps y’all today. Go out there and let God pour into you and water those seeds!

When Your Kid is Not a Believer — in God

Dear Reader, 

I know that there’s some parents out here who are really upset and aghast that their child does not believe the same things, have the same values or walk in the way that they were taught. 

I want to reassure you today that that is really perfectly ok. There are a few reasons why it’s okay: 

  1. They believe in a Higher Power. 

No, I’m serious. They do. When you turn a light switch and it works, you believed the higher power of electricity. When you drive a car, you pray daily even if its “please let me make this red light” I truly believe everyone has a basic belief in something. It’s in our core selves. 

  1. Higher Power for some, is a Gateway back to God

For some of us, the origins of our parents became too much for us. When it was too much, we walked away from all of it. You’ve heard the saying, we “threw the baby out with the bathwater.” 

But that gate is still open with our little beliefs in electricity, in gasoline,  and sunlight. I want to reassure you that they may just come back around.

  1. When they come back around, their beliefs, values, etc may not be what they once were. 

We’re not the same we were last month. We’re not even the same we were this morning. We cannot operate on expired faith; we need new wine. So it may not be what you wanted but it’s faith. AND THAT MATTERS

I will end this with a poem by Emily Dickinson: 

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.