Other people's pain comes to us filtered, always and only, through our own. Our own, then, is all we ever actually know. When the Twin Towers crashed, and thousands of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers perished in a crushing cascade of steel, fire, and bloodeach one felt only his or her own fear, only his or her pain, only his or her own suffering; no one else's. Whether a mother holding a feverish infant to her breast, or a father clutching a crumpled wife, neither can splice into the nerves of the other to feel a spasm of their woe, a prick of their pain, or a sputter of their sorrow.
No matter how loud, outrageous, or consuming, pain remains more private than thought; thought can always be shared, pain never really can. Unlike the liver, the heart, or bloodsuffering is nontransferable, nontransfusable, and nontransplantable. What's yours is yours alone. However we die, however we suffer, whether alone or in bundles, corporate agony, collective pain, doesn't actually exist; we are islands of anguish unto ourselves. This privatization of pain, this personalization of anguish, it's goodbecause it means that no one has ever suffered more than an individual can. Grief remains finite, hedged in by what's as minuscule as the human.
We know no more suffering than our personal metabolism allows, no more pain than our delirious cells can carry. No matter how many miles of nerves are wired through us, what are they but a few frayed and twisted threads in contrast to the light-years of reality that surround us Our finitude is our defense, our physical borders our best protection. How fortunate that pain and suffering remain hedged in and limited by the inherent confines of individuality.
It's hard enough, this bearing of our own pain.
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Can we even imagine carrying others' as well There's an exception, however, to this otherwise pandemic personalization of pain; only one time when this universal paradigm of individuated anguish shifted, and that was the Cross. Only as we understand what happened there, to God Himself in contrast to anything and everything that happens to us, can we begin to understand what's perhaps the most difficult question that ministers face from their parishioners Why does God allow human suffering Only on the cross can we find, if not certain answers, at least some hope amid the pain.
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Again, though we experience only our own fear, only our own loathing, no one else'sat the Cross, Jesus experienced everyone else's. The individual miseries of humanity were, one by one, added up and the gruesome sum fell on the Creator. At the Cross, everything noisome and evil that ever rippled through our nerves rippled through Hisat once. However much blood, sweat, and tears have spilled, dripped, and flowed under anemic moons; despite the cancerous color of the soul and the loathsome fates of so many little onesnone of them, none of us, suffered more than a single human can.
Our pain never surpassed our finitude. No one ever ached more than he or she, individually, could withstand; the moment the threshold was crossed, death cracked it off. In contrast, at the Cross, the evils of the world, and all their doleful results, honed in on Him at once.
Maxwell Marlowe, Private Eye: Murder In Maroochydore on Apple Books
From the pain of the children mutilated and then murdered by Mengele, to even the Herr Doktor's personal tremors of guilt, from the first swollen belly to the last emphysemic lung, from abused to abuser, all the planet's finite evils fell on Christ and, amassed at once, they were enough to kill Him. Putting aside postmodern mumbling about perspectivalism, relativism, pluralism, about Foucalt's Interpretative Analysis, or Derrida's Deconstruction of the text, or Wittgenstein's language games.
There's no middle ground here, no compromise. Either Jesus was God Himself, or He was just a good man and an infinite qualitative difference exists between the two, or maybe even a bad man, or maybe never a man at all. But if He were infinite would assume finitude while still remaining infinite, that's incredible enough. But that God would, in the form of finitude, suffer only as the infinite could suffer Logic and reason knuckle under the notion; before a sketch, or even a rough draft, the imagination surrenders.
Only the metaphysics of faith can approach it. Belief in a false god is bad enough; belief in a crucified one is even worse, for while the belief helps tame the cruel, empty spaces of the universethe lie makes them more hellish than ever. The infinite divide However incredible the Cross, there's nothing contradictory about it. The Power who uttered into existence infinity, eternity, and matter and wrapped them together and draped the result across nothing, certainly would have the capacity to garb Himself in human flesh and then die in that flesh.
The One who created all of what's created could become part of what's created. Either the Cross is true or it is lie. If a lie, then it's just a black hole into which so much hope, promise, and prayer have been poured, with little or nothing in return. But, if it's true, then it means that our lies, our greed, our envy, our lust, our pride, our cheating, our selfishness, our injustice, and all the nasty and dirty little things we have thought and done; all the things that by themselves might not seem so bad but if added up, shoved in our face, and exposed for what they really were would cause us to claw at our own fleshall of them were there, at the Cross, borne by Christ, killing Christ so that when all the evil moments of our life are tallied and weighed, they don't have to ultimately, and forever, kill us.
There's no justice in this life. But if God exists, and if He is just, then justice will be donewhich means sooner or later we'll have to answer for everything; for the dirty secrets that occasionally appear in our dreams, for the pangs that itch in 9 Don t he too surprise For nearly two decades, we' ye manufactured chairs that are more comfortable, more durable, and So it was only a matter of time until we a better value than any other church chair on the ma what else would you expect from found a line of tables to match.
Now we have Georgia places we can't scratch, and even for all the things that we long ago justified and then, conveniently, forgot. Imagine facing every evil thought, word, and deed at once, with all excuses, rationalizations, and justifications swept away by the peering eyes of an all-seeing, all-knowing God who exposes the deepest, most carnal motives until there's nowhere to hide. If all the evil we have ever committed or will ever commit fell on Jesus to spare us from the punishment that justice demands, then the Cross has an absolute moral claim on us.
Whether we believe it or not, whether we accept it or not, the claim remainsand all other ties, in contrast, bind us in nothing but pink ribbons and bows. No one, nothing else, has such a stake in us because no one, nothing else, has done or could do so much for us. If at the Cross Christ paid the penalty for every wrong thing we have ever done, if He bore the brunt of our evil, if in His flesh He felt at once the painful consequences of our foul deeds, and if He did it in order to spare us from having to face divine judgment for all these things we have done and yet we reject the provision, what's left That's heavy.
Whatever else we do or have done to others, we do or have done to those of the same noisome brew as ourselves. We are finite creatures who do things, sometimes petty, sometimes puerile, sometimes terrible, but always only finite and temporal things, nothing more. The gap between who we are, what we do, and to whom we do them stays finite, and finite minus finite equals only finitude. The Cross, however, presents to humanity something infinite, something eternal.
Instead of hovering "out there," as concepts merely sensed or intuited, the Infinite and Eternal stepped directly into the equations of our lives, wrote Themselves into the formulas of our immediate existence, and made May Themselves accessible as never before. To have the eternal and infinite God clothe Himself in human flesh in order to save us from the inevitable doom of our own rotting wrapsand then only to have those temporal and rotting wraps purposely reject what He did for uswhat's left There's an infinite gap between the finite and the infinite; those who have rejected what Jesus has done for them have, in a sense, breached that gap; it is the ultimate transgression because it is an infinite one.
The dilemma Of course, belief in this Infinite death isn't in itself productive of loving and lovable Christians. On the contrary, corporate Christianity often produces corporate wretches. It's one thing to have vile folks walk into a churchthat might be expected. But to have them leave worse because their villainy is now absolved by a conscience confirmed in the certainty of terminal truththat cannot be expected.
How does one explain those who have murdered, raped, and pillaged in the name of Jesus Or what about those God-fearing, church-going white Protestants who loved the Lord MINISTRY but wouldn't share their restrooms with a Black person Or the folks who shoved Jews into gas chambers Monday through Saturday but rested from their work on Sunday From the Crusades to the Inquisition, from the Ku Klux Klan to the most orthodox fascists, why has Christianity provided the vehicle, the incentive, and the rationale for so much of what rots the planet And why has much of what's been noxious been nurtured in the cold, lurid womb of the church, which served for centuries as the intellectual, cultural, and moral dungeon of the West Though good questions, none are good excuses.
Jesus Himself warned about those who would, under the guise of Christian faith, work iniquity Matt. Millions of professed Christians have, for almost two thousand years, provided convenient excuses to reject the Cross; what they haven't provided are adequate ones, because nothing has changed the Cross, where God died for and from the world's evilan infinite act that transcends all finite ones, even the ones done in the name of the act itself.
In the end, nothing nullifies the Cross. It remains, above and beyond everything else, and its claims are so universal, so sweeping, and so grand that they blow away all excuses, even good ones about human suffering. No matter what we have suffered, we have suffered only as individuals. No more. In contrast, God took on the form of humanity and died a death not only worse than the worst of the best of humanity but suffered a death worse than all of humanity even the worst of itcombined.
And though that amazing death does not answer all the questions about evil and pain, it does put them in a perspective that could help us past our own anguish and that of others if for no other reason than that, because of the Cross, the moral hues, the tones, and the tenor of the cosmos have radically changed, and the music of the spheres becomes howling praise. What is unique to debate is the force with which the presentation is made.
It is assumed in debate that the most forceful presentation wins the day. This means the presenter with the best logic, eloquence, or power of persuasion has the truth. Deciding between dialogue and debate Ian Hartley ere are two broad divisions in communication styledialogue and debate. Radio and television stations often focus on one of the two.
Congregations and cultures also seem to gravitate toward debate or dialogue. The predominant communication style in an organization will, to a large extent, determine the quality of relationships experienced. Dialogue presumes an interest in what the other has to say. It is thus a sensitive experience in which the listener has the opportunity of walking through an often unknown forest of ideas. Of course the word "dialogue" implies the speaker and listener exchange roles from time to time.
It is a mutual journey, a cooperative venture, a partnership, a marriage of two minds or souls.
Maxwell Marlowe, Private Eye: Murder In Maroochydore
In true dialogue, it is as if the universe is no longer a vast, cold, empty space but a warm, friendly, inviting place to be. Dialogue is premised on cooperation and mutual respect. Debate, on the other hand, is concerned with getting my facts, my point of view, my way of seeing transferred into your head. Dialogue is at the heart of friendship. It is the language of intimacy, the language of lovers. Dialogue affirms and empowers, it seeks to build understanding of the other.
All lasting relationships depend on dialogue for maintenance and extension. Successful families and societies are grounded in dialogue. Dialogue adds value to all involved. In the postscientific or postmodern society, people work with facts all day long at work and seek meaning outside of facts in relationships, in dialogue.
Business people know that dialogue improves customer relationships. They also know that these relationships are much more important than merely being right.
For good business the customer is always right There is the classic story of the customer who bought a pair of jeans which turned out to be too short and so he shortened them into cutoffs. The customer then decided the cutoffs were not what he wanted and so took the three pieces of "jeans" back for a refund. The store refunded the full price and won a customer forever.
Related Maxwell Marlowe, Private Eye. Murder in Maroochydore.
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