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6 Responses to “Fireworks”

  1. Khori Smith says:

    Keep up the great work Mike. Your writing is always sooooo relevant! 🙂

    peace

  2. KC Bruce says:

    Mike:

    I think your analysis here reflects an even older medieval view that the mind/heart had three components: reason, will, and appetite or desire. Reason should rule the will and will should rule the appetite. To get that out of order was the definition of insanity or sickness. Which is why love (appetite rules the will) is treated as a sickness in Shakespeare and others of that period.

    It might also be useful to note that the connotation of “passion” has changed somewhat over the past hundred years or so. It used to be associated–as you suggest–with animal passions: anger, lust, greed, etc. Over the last couple of decades, it has taken on a more positive aspect–having a sincere commitment to a goal, as in a “passion for excellence.” The founding fathers had something different than we in their use of that term.

    I think it is fascinating how the founding fathers seem to get so much right and build a government structure that could strike the right balance of freedom and government. Too much “freedom” and we get license and anarchy, ultimately being overtaken by tyranny. Too much “government” and we strangle individual and institutional possibilities in a web of control.

    It seems that we go back to that persistent question: what model best explains our experience? And again, it seems that Christianity seems (to me at least) to capture this constant struggle between the possibilities for good and evil in mankind. The struggle described by Paul between the old man and the new man or between the carnal mind and the mind of Christ seems to articulate the human condition well. And to form a government that attempts to strike the right balance between those extremes also seems to give us a turbulent, but workable, way of moving forward.

    Let us hope that the pendulum keeps swinging inside the boundaries and doesn’t swing so wildly as to break the whole mechanism.

  3. Brody Bond says:

    Can’t conscience and prudence be applied passionately?

  4. Mike Metzger says:

    Bruce:

    You hit the nail on the head – the framers did know a great deal about human nature and yes, the meaning of “passion” has grown more positive (I’m reminded of Flannery O’Connor’s wry observation that as society loses a sense of the divine, everything must go “positive”). Your comments also remind me of Richard Weaver’s observation (“Idea Have Consequences”) that there is a divine element in speech and those most facile with language are usually most adept at defining reality. So yes, the meaning of passion might have changed over the last 100 years (it has in fact) but the bigger story is how this indicates Christianity no longer defining reality as broadly as it once did….

    … which leads to me to Brody’s question…

    we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the question is disconnected from how the Judeo-Christian tradition defines reality. The Bible only speaks of “applying” oneself to a problem or situation. You cannot “apply” conscience and prudence “passionately.” You can apply yourself to gaining wisdom by acting in good conscience – which is antithetical to acting passionately.

    God created with wise words – language. There is a divine element in our words and they do matter. To redefine reality in ways that do not correspond to reality is part of what Paul refers to as grieving the Spirit (c.f., Ephesians 4:29-32).

  5. Brody Bond says:

    Mike-

    You know I’m with you on virtually everything, but I just don’t think I can buy that gaining wisdom is antithetical to acting passionately.

    Surely, there are semantic issues here – and that might be the whole of it. But, I can’t find virtue – nor any evidence of non-puritanical success – in those who live without passion.

    Is it misguided to say that Jesus was “passionate” about doing the will of the Father?

  6. Mike Metzger says:

    Brody:

    Here’s an idea: study every passage in scripture on “passion” and draw your own conclusion on how it is defined. We agree that we don’t get to define reality – we align with it according to how God defines reality. Do a study and see what scripture says.

    I would also suggest that you are feeling the effects of other definitions of passion. Ancient ideas like “enthusiastic” and “purposeful” deem to lose their luster next to this new definition of passion. That’s a loss for for our faith. Furthermore, yes, Jesus did experience passion. It has ben referred to as Passion Week and refers to his suffering – another definition of passion.

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