1.28.2007

Consumerism

Most thinking people can recognize that our culture has become a consumer culture. Consumerism drives our economy.

A few weeks back, Sans Auto posted some thoughts about consumerism here and here.

He`s right, the consumer choices we make really do make a difference. And even though I am currently living in Japan, my choices make a difference in the US of America. My choices here may even have more influence than they might in Canada because Japan is so very enamoured with all things American.

Japan has taken the idea of consumerism to dizzying heights.

There is a new shopping mall about a half hour drive north of us (maybe 10 km). When it first opened, so many people showed up to go shopping that the sewer system was overloaded and backed up. As a result, security had to close the mall at 5pm instead of the usual 10 pm. Well, that just sent too many people right over the edge. People went on a rampage through the mall, destroying shops, breaking windows and looting. Why? Not because they were protesting any injustice in the world, but because they were being denied the opportunity to buy stuff.

Pathetic.

(EDIT: Apparently I was a little over-zealous in my reporting of that incident. Only a few people were smashing windows, and there wasn't a looting rampage.)

I would take this critique a step further...

Not only have we become a culture that thinks it has a right to buy stuff, but we have become consumers of things that are not meant to be consumed.

Here are some examples...

  1. We consume ideas. People are far too willing to buy into an idea, even a bad idea, if it makes them feel good. People buy ideas for the same reason that they buy shoes, or blue jeans, or potato chips. This is very bad. We should only buy into ideas that are true. Relativism is a good example of an idea that has been bought by the unthinking, yet often highly educated, masses, even in the church. We seem to think that it is good to think of moral ideas as being subjective and only correct in that they are supported by a person`s feelings.
  2. We consume art. Maybe this isn`t as catastrophic as being consumers of ideas, but I think that it is worthy of critique. When we realize that there is nothing that is truly moral or good in ideas, we soon begin to apply the same logic to art. Good art is easily recognizable. Good art is beautiful. Koukl relates a story about art in Relativism... Not long ago, the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati exhibited the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe. Among the photos was a picture of a man urinating in another man`s mouth. The museum was charged with exhibiting pornography. In defense of the picture, a curator of another museum claimed that the picture was fine art because of the composition and the lighting. Dennis Prager observed `Ladies and gentlemen, if some of the leading artists in a civilization see a man urinating in another man`s mouth and see composition and lighting and do not see their civilization being pissed upon, we are in trouble.`
  3. We consume worship. A quick glance at the shelves in any current Christian bookstore will tell you that the most popular `style` of music is worship music. Ask someone how they would choose a church and you will most likely hear something about the worship service. Ask someone in a church who they worship and they will likely say `God`. Ask them why they worship and you will probably hear `Because it makes me feel good`. We give lip service to God, but our worship has become selfish. We worship for the same reasons that we buy Tim Horton`s donuts or coffee. We shop for churches based on how much we like the music (which we equate with worship). Here is an interesting little exercise...take a look through the lyrics (if there are any) of some of the old hymns. Look for pronouns and notice how many of the pronouns refer to God. Then do the same for a contemporary song...how many of the pronouns refer to the singer?

We have to get out of the consumer mentality on so many different levels. As Christians, we have a duty to become producers. We need to produce and champion good and true ideas , we need to produce art that conveys a message of beauty and we must only worship that which is worthy.

When truth dies we must be prepared to throw beauty on the pyre and we will be left with nothing to worship except our own depravity.

Relativism, if left unchallenged, will deal the death blow.

Hirata

Fun at the park on some cool bikes!

Click here.

Lets Biking!!

Yesterday, the Kelly and I had some free time to ourselves, without the kids. So we did what every normal person would do and went for a bike ride.

We made it to Gifu Park at a nice leisurely pace, bought an ice cream and headed back home. all in all it is about 30 k round trip. This is the same route that I did with the kids back at the beginning of December when Kelly was buried in books.

Here are some pics from the first trip...


Mom and Dad, you have pictures of the scene above about a month later. This little waterfall is at the base of the Ropeway on Mt Kinka.


Today, our friend Keiko took us all and her daughter, Konomi to Hirata Park. I love that there are so many open spaces to play here, and people actually use them to play. The big draw at this particular park is a huge long slide. Many slides around here are not like typical playground slides back home. Over here, they are made from rollers, a lot of rollers.

1.25.2007

Relativism and the Law of Non-Contradiction

One reason that moral relativism is obviously not the correct way to view the world is that it breaks the Law of Non-Contradiction. I wrote about this law here a couple months ago.

Basically, the Law of Non-Contradiction states that something cannot be both true and not true at the same time and in the same sense.

A Persian medieval philosopher (Abu Ali Sina) once said

“Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.”

Maybe that is going a little overboard in demonstrating the Law of Non-Contradiction, but it makes the point forcefully.

The Law of Non-Contradiction is a fundamental law in philosophy and it is undeniable and unfalsifiable. In order to either deny or falsify the law, you have to use the law.

Moral relativism breaks the Law of Non-Contradiction. Within a morally relative viewpoint, a person could say that killing unborn babies is wrong for them, but it is ok for someone else to do it. (This is a statement often used by politicians when talking about abortion and it is very bad logic.)

We all know that some things are objectively wrong for everybody, regardless of the circumstances.

Moral relativism is a very bad idea that has very bad consequences.

Relativism

What is ethical relativism?

"Philosophical view that what is right or wrong and good or bad is not absolute but variable and relative, depending on the person, circumstances, or social situation."

ethical relativism. (2007). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 25, 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9363948


Seems plausible, tolerant and ethically neutral. But it is actually not a moral view at all because it denies any objective standard to which we are accountable.


1.17.2007

Dante

Just finished reading "The Dante Club" by Matthew Pearl.

Interesting book, although a little slow at times. Pearl claims to have kept it historically accurate to the setting of 19th c Boston, just after the Civil War.

Now I am going to have to read Dante's 'Comedy'.

1.16.2007

Hyperactive

Not sure how many of you have seen this...it is definitely worth a look.

1.14.2007

Feet Firmly Planted in Midair

I read a great book over the winter vacation. Its called `Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Midair`. It was written by Greg Koukl and Francis Beckwith.

If you are at all concerned at the state of moral intelligence in our society, then you need to read this book.

If you are not concerned about the state of moral intelligence in our society because, after all, morality is private and you would never force your morality on someone else and we need to be tolerant of other opinions, then you REALLY need to read this book.

It is only $13.49 CAD. For less than the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of beer, you can get yourself up to speed on the biggest hurdle facing Christians today.

I will blog some of the ideas presented in the book over the next little while.

1.13.2007

First Impressions

I was very interested in my reaction to picking up Mom and Dad from the airport. The last time we saw them was July 28/05. In the meantime we have been thoroughly immersed in Japanese culture.

One thing about Japan is that there is huge emphasis placed on 'fitting in'. It is very clear that there has been very little 'outside' genetic information on these islands for a very long time. There is one color of hair. Sometimes there are different shades of hair, but that is usually artificial. See below...



After a year and a half of seeing minor variations on a theme and virtually nobody that is directly related to me, I guess I wasn't prepared for seeing Mom for the first time in 18 months.

As she came through the doors after clearing security, there were three things that struck me right away.

-Mom is getting older(...sorry mom). That is not to say that she looked to be in poor health at all, she looks good and healthy, but older.

-The second thing that happened was that I saw my sister Laurel in her face. It was as clear as day.

-Immediately after seeing Laurel, I saw Grandpa Brammall.

For me, those second two impressions really set the tone for our visit. It was really good to connect with family again. It was good to be able to sit around the house and not worry about what cultural taboos we were breaking without even realizing it.

1.10.2007

New links

Two new links under 'Jesus is for Losers'

xxxchurch.com
-billed as the '#1 Christian Porn Site' (if you are looking for porn, its not here. If you are a follower of Jesus and are looking for porn...click the link...)

Starving Jesus
-40 days of nothing

1.09.2007

冬休み fuyu yasumi -- Winter Vacation

Its been a while...

Lots of good news to report. The Canucks have been making me happy recently. I will never complain when they beat Calgary three times in a row with a sound thumping of Edmonton thrown in there just for kicks. I am sure that the current streak of 7 wins will come to play in the playoff race. With the Northwest so tight, this stretch of wins over division rivals is critical. Without SurlyBert around with his attitude, maybe they will actually play like the bunch of wild dogs that they need to in order to succeed.

We had a great visit with my folks while they were here. The quick highlights include renting a van to pick them up from the airport, Dad giggling (well maybe not giggling but it was the closest thing to it...he was real tired) at sitting in the driver's seat with no steering wheel or pedals and driving on the wrong side of the road (with the implications that right and left turns are totally different here). We took a trip into Nagoya to visit the aquarium, went shopping in MALera, the big new mall just north of us, and went to Kyoto for the day.

Christmas was a little different. After the kids got home from school, we opened our gifts, then had Yakisoba for dinner.

There were many things that we will remember for a long time. Over the next few posts, I will give you my perceptions of the things we all experienced.

They are now, finally, home safe and likely a little loopy from the adventure of leaving here twice, on consecutive days, finally getting to Tokyo, flying out of Tokyo at 7 pm on Monday and arriving in Vancouver at 11ish am that same Monday...8 hours before they left Tokyo.

More to come...