I will use the next few blogs to give some reviews of movies, music, and television shows. The reviews will highlight some of my favorite works of art in our culture, and will discuss what they have to say about faith, theology, philosophy, and life.
Hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I will enjoy writing them.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
I ask myself whether or not I am a person of integrity, because I wonder if I have lost some of my integrity as I have gotten older.
I am not as innocent or naïve as when I was a teen.
I do not think in such black and white terms.
Have I become less of a good person, I mean a really good person, over time?
Do I compromise my beliefs too easily?
I think about things I used to see as true that I now question.
- As a teen, I favored the death penalty, now I do not.
- As a teen, I would not have watched an un-edited Rated R film, now sometimes I do.
- As a teen, I questioned the value in education, now I know it holds value. Education helps people become more well-rounded human beings.
- As a teen, I was much quicker to question authority. Now I still question authority, or at least ulterior motives of those in authority, but I have learned that everyone in a position of authority over me is placed there by God and they deserve to be respected.
- Universal Salvation: I do not believe in universal salvation, but I sometimes wonder if evangelicals make the pathway too narrow.
- Sex Outside of Marriage: I do not believe that people should have sex outside of marriage either, but I am not inclined to think people should save their first kiss for the day of the wedding. There has to be some balance, and that is where I struggle. I also find it more difficult to tell consenting adults that they should not engage in certain practices that it is easy to forbid teenagers from doing. This remains a minor struggle, but is one that is generally easy to press through knowing my convictions.
- Engaging “Non-Christian” Culture: I love culture and derive a great deal of pleasure from engaging it through reading, listening to music, watching movies, etc. I still struggle with where and when to draw the line on what is appropriate to engage and what is not.
- Downloading Music and Movies: I am not in favor of stealing from the artists, but at the same time, I question the ethical practices of the RIAA. I also wonder how much of that money is going back to the artists themselves. Clearly changes are needed in how music and movies are bought and sold and the prices paid for these forms of entertainment.
- Black Market: I must confess, I enjoy buying things on the black market. Not like human organs, or people, or anything like that, but I enjoy purchasing things that require me to look for a good deal. It is almost like a game of can I find “this” for sale at a high quality and a good price. But should I?
I have never really struggled with the following:
- I have always seen it as wrong to use others as a means to an end.
- I have always seen it as wrong to lie to others, manipulate others, or con others for immoral purposes.
- I have always seen it as wrong to use words in order to hurt someone and make him or her suffer unjustly.
- Murder. Murder is always wrong.
- I have never seen it as wrong to drink, only to get drunk. I do not think people should do things that take them out of their right minds (unless it is for a medical procedure). That being said, I choose not to drink.
- I do not think people should smoke cigarettes. They harm the body. I am not as opposed to pipes or cigars, because they are not inhaled the same way, but I do think that they still negatively affect one’s health and really should be avoided.
- Illegal Crimes. I have never agreed with breaking the law in order to do evil. Sometimes I think it is right to oppose government decree, but only when that decree is immoral. I do see some laws as “softer.” For example, the speed limit. I think it is ok to go over or under the speed limit within reason based on driving conditions, weather, traffic, etc. But one should never drive too fast or too slow in a manner that proves the driver to be out-of-control or a danger to others.
- I think it is wrong to hurt animals with malicious intent. I do not think it is wrong to hunt, or even use animals for testing to a certain extent, but hunting and testing need to be carried out in an ethical manner.
- I think one should always make decisions based on the greater good.
- I think one should always strive to be honest and speak the truth in love.
- I think love and respect for others should guide many of our life choices.
- I think kindness is better than anger/wrath.
- Commit to being honest.
- Commit to making morally right decisions.
- Commit to being honorable in word and deed.
- Pray for God’s strength and guidance to convict your heart of right and wrong, and for him to lead you down the path less travelled.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
It seems simple enough, but seeing how contemplative I am, it has caused quite a lot of analysis.
First, what is integrity? Some say it is doing what is right when it is difficult. Some say it is doing what is right even when no one is watching. Others say it is having honor. Having integrity implies having virtue. It means being perfect in at least some respects.
Of course, these ideas lead me to ask:What is right? Is anyone capable of always doing what is right in difficult situations? Does anyone always do what is right when no one is watching? Does anyone really have any honor? It seems that everyone has at least a certain degree of shame. Doesn't that overshadow any thread of honor someone might have? What is honor anyway? Am I really a virtuous person? Can anyone be perfect? Even if someone is near perfect in one respect, don't other flaws overshadow that perfection just as shame overshadows honor?
Second, even if I can define integrity, can I or anyone else, really live up to its demands?
To begin, I really see integrity as living with the motivation to do the right thing in so much as it is humanly possible. While it does include making "right" decisions even when it is difficult or when no one is looking, having integrity also requires being honest about wrongs when they are committed.
This may be one of the hardest things for me, well at least the acceptance of blame when I do wrong. I have a tendency to think that I am always right, even though I know in reality I am frequently not right.
Even if people of integrity are human and at least sometimes make bad decisions and do wrong, how much wrong can one do before he or she is no longer able to affirm that he or she is a person of integrity?
Here comes that hard part of the analysis. Even if I desire to live a morally upright life, have I done too many wrong things to be a person of integrity? Do I lie? Do I steal? Do I covet? Do I hurt others with my words?
In short, yes.
Sometimes I do these things and other similar things, but I hate it every time I fall short. I hate it every time I stumble.
In the Bible, King David saw a woman bathing. This led to having an affair with her, having her husband killed, and losing the respect of his children. After the event with this woman occurs in the Bible, David never again has the respect of his family that he had before.
I think about my daughters, and how much I want them to marry men they respect. In all the books I read about being a good dad, one theme that comes up again and again, is that daughters tend to marry men like their fathers. That means, if I want my daughters to marry men with integrity, I need to have integrity for them to see. If they see integrity in me, maybe they will look for it in the person they choose to spend their lives with. Maybe they will even look for it in the friends they choose.
Maybe this is why I have been thinking about it so much lately.
It seems to me that integrity is something that is learned and practiced. It is also a commitment. It is a commitment to do what is right in so far as we can know what is right to do. The commitment must be real. It must be something we can fall back on and that we can strive toward in how we live. It is a goal.
Integrity is a race towards the prize. We may never achieve it here because life is continually moving forward, but for as long as we live, we can strive to reach it.
Besides making a commitment to do what is right, how can one go about doing what is right. How can one learn to make "the right" decisions? How can one live an honorable life? It is to this question that I hope to write about soon.
What do you think? Does anyone really have integrity?