Christians sometimes forget the importance of aesthetics and the passion that comes from it. True Aesthetics is an expression of truth that reaches one’s deepest self. As a young Christian male at the age of 21, I had an experience that completely just changed me for the worst so fast, so dramatically. Having all the head knowledge of apologetics and theology did not heal the wounds that came with this experience. Truth is much more than propositions, it is part of the reality we experience, and good aesthetics expresses and reminds us of this.
I’ve always been a fan of the band skillet, never exactly knew why, but deep down their songs truly spoke to the prior struggles of my life. I had a friend once say Skillet is irrelevant, to some people, they are the most relevant band on the planet, every day. When you look at the lyrics in their songs, you see the truth they speak to. The Leader of Skillet, John L. Cooper recently wrote a Book based of their song Awake and Alive, which goes into the fuel of the Band. The book is called: Awake & Alive To Truth: Finding Truth In The Chaos Of A Relativistic World.
“Sometimes you want something so badly that you cannot trust yourself to even know the difference (8-9).” Through my experience, an impulse, a desire, was rational at first, but the truth of that impulse lead me away from the Truth. Half-truths are so dangerous because they present part of God’s truth, they take something that is good, and assign a false value to that thing. My mind was challenged and harmed in such a distraught way, that when one says their mind has been blown, my mind was torn apart. I had a desire that started in its right context and was manipulated right out of that context so fast, yet slowly, and so cleverly.
“The threads that hold society together are coming unraveled because there is no truth left to bind them. Lies have become truth, truth has become emotions, emotion has become God, God has become whatever one desires-whether rock-and-roll dreams, self-worship, or sexual desire, or whatever. And whatever one desires must be good, right (9)?” Everyone’s downfall starts with a rational appetite. This means that people have real struggles that are not self-caused, but it’s how you handle those struggles is where virtue vs. vice comes to the mind. We all seek truth, purpose, hope, meaning in our darkest and deepest times. God is so Gracious enough to give us natural capacities to find such things we most desire.
What this toxic culture has done to those capacities and intuitions is unbearable to see at times. Everyone’s journey began with a real, rational response to a struggle, but sin is taking the easy way out, taking the easy and most pleasurable answer. Good people turn toxic, it happens all the time when one deliberates in the half truths perpetuated by this culture’s artifacts. Emotions becomes the rational, the heart is all that is followed. Jeremiah 19:7 “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it?” Want to know why no one can understand it??? It’s because there is no truth to it!!!
“And this, I think, is the crux of much of our dilemma in society. There are no rules, no absolutes, no guides. The people fight over what is true, and often, facts don’t matter (27).” I think it’s much worse than this statement. The church is part of our relativistic culture, if not one of the influences of it. The church is lukewarm (Revelation 3:15-17) and is not the place to find God in our struggles. Instead, we see Christians who are stuck in their own denomination, are only Christians merely in the church building on Sundays, and so on. All minding their own business, which is ultimately what Relativism is epistemologically and morally.
People who are literally dying, crying for God in the most subtle ways, do not have accessibility of the proper representation of God and his Grace. “Many who have walked away from Christianity altogether would rather be rewarded with perceived virtue from a relativistic world than receive the gift of righteousness from an absolutely Holy God (30).” People’s only idea of a perfect God is from the people who claim to be his followers, the evangelical church has broken the beauty of the mind in the church by not participating in love of wisdom, which is love of philosophy. People, therefore, are represented with the half-truths of society, outside of the church because they have participated more than the church in the most important questions people ask in their times of dying.
The deeper questions of oneself are truly asked appropriately in the strongest of experiences, hence objections to God and Christianity from the problem of evil. Christianity not only offers the best solutions, but truly is the only thing that solves such issues. “And as a foundational matter, if we attempt to depart from His truth, we’ll find nothing but pain (47).” A cumulative case for this is the atrocities of the mind in this country, numberless, rising cases of mental health issues, depression, drug use, broken relationships, divorces, neglected people, homeless people, and so many other issues that can be named. All that is offered are the half-truths that lead people into the uncertainties of instant gratification and vice, hence no solution to the problems the church failed to answer for people who once took it seriously.
“Our feelings can be the biggest obstacle in our search for truth. In fact, we can become so convinced by our feeling that they become convictions (58).” Natural Emotions are a beautiful state of Mind that God has given us, there is a correlative emotion called love that is a real vindicator of such an experience. Since, truth and wisdom has been robbed by both the modern church and society, all it is are the feelings, no connection to the true experiences we all have as human beings. That’s all people know and why they go to it. Many churches merely believe because they have a feeling from a worship service or a concert, yet no testimony or real belief/experience with such feeling. A wise mind has proper emotions, but there is no wisdom available on a mass level for minds to become wise.
“We live in a culture so self-consumed and so focused on our own desires that we do not realize how ridiculous our idea of love is (67).” I have so many thoughts on what it means to love someone as a philosopher, then as I was attending my martial arts class, my instructor was talking and said: “Nobody gives an honest chance anymore.” The context of this was relationships, that sunk my mind when I heard it.
One of my favorite quotes from the Joker: “We live in a society where honor is a distant memory.” What happened to the Joker? If you watch the 2019 film of the Joker, you will see how many times he was not given an honest chance. What it did to him on the inside, what it drives him to do. Honesty is the balance cord of a stable mind. When all you experience is dishonesty, it’s only a simple math what that does to a once honest mind, doesn’t drive one to dishonesty, but rather to insanity. Which is what we see with the joker and what happens to his mind, its outside of reality. Who was trying to live life more? The joker or the continuous people who never gave him an honest chance?
“The CDC released statistics on death by suicide, which showed that in the last 17 years the suicide rate in America has risen 40%... Youth mental health is worsening. From 2012-2017, the prevalence of past-year major Depressive Episode (MDE) increased from 8.66 percent to 13.01 percent of youth ages 12-17… The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which provides counseling for people facing emotional distress during times of natural and human-caused disasters, received an 891% increase in distress calls from March 2019 to March 2020 (7-1-72).”
Imagine for a second, not in some fantasy world, but in the real world, we are living in, how many people are not included in these statistics, but are still under the same issues? Those who want to commit Suicide, may not be able to act on it, but their mind is dead. They continue to do the same thing as if there’s nothing wrong to the perceptions of those around that mind. Or they may continue to live out of duty for others, the point remains, the will to die is very present. Those who have mental health issues are only reported because they have sought help or needed to be attended to for the external conflicts that started within that mind.
Those struggling with substance abuse, so many are good at hiding it. My cousin died from heroin when nobody expected it. We knew for the longest time, but she seemed so clean and off of it finally, that concern was no longer present. A couple months later, I had to see my 25-year-old cousin dead, in a casket, lifeless. Reality hits hardest in the deepest of moments. Now take this example and we can reasonably increase those statistics higher than where they are at currently. It’s also a mere logical point to add, that people are good at hiding their darkest issues and thoughts from others. Happens every day around us, no study will be able to capture all that data we all experience in our individual lives, all 300,000,000 million of us.
“When we turn from Him and attempt to find pleasure, fulfillment, happiness, or joy in something or someone else (even our false conception of God), that is not only idolatry, but it is actually committing spiritual adultery (84).” There’s a Three Days Grace song I love, called Painkiller, just listen to it for yourself and see how that describes what Idolatry truly is. When we are faced in the deep, there are two main ways out, right reason or pleasure.
Right reason tells you what to think and what do to, no matter what. Right reason is equivalent to wisdom. Wisdom has everyone’s best interest in mind in times of dying, there are real solutions. It is the option of pleasure (taken out of its proper context), that gives you that mental high of that desperate solution to your pain. It makes you feel like you are doing the right thing, while you are going deeper than how far you already were. This numbs the mind, literally blinds you from the light at the top of the abyss. Those statistics of suicides and substance abuse are painkillers, which are idols. For ancient cultures, it was an idea of a deity or force that seemed like the right answer, for us, it is things lesser than an idea, literally material objects that sooth our pain. You become what you do, you become the object of your painkiller.
I was faced with an option once; I truly felt the need to kill myself. I never acted on it, but it was a reasonable option in my mind. My mind had become so dead and so numb, but yet was still honest, because I still had options. I didn’t act immediately; I was weighing the options from the current state of reason. But reason, is very much manipulated by human subjectivity. There are such things as good reasons vs bad reason. Even some apparent good reasons are bad reasons for doing or believing something. I had five days of anxiety to the max in anticipation of something I knew was going to happen and it did. Then for the next 9 days which truly was experience as an eternity in my mind, was just death.
My mind was numb, I could not think reasonably, but I could still think of the worst and the darkest of things, that all my mind could think of, since it was tossed into the dark with no light. Prior to those days, my emotions were so out of whack and out of context. I had learned that my mind was never clear, even with the pursuits of a bachelor’s in biblical studies/philosophy and running a Christian apologetics ministry. I had felt and thought, God had honestly just left me or wasn’t there at all.
I set my entire being on one prayer, I asked God to not let one thing happen, to not let me lose that one thing. Now I realize that prayer was a confession of a painkiller over God himself. I could only worship God, love him with all that I am if I had that one thing that I thought was from him. While I was depressed, I was also so enraged inconsistently at God. God could have literally left me in the gutter like so many have. I can never blame myself for the way I felt, but what I directed that pain towards was my fault. What caused my pain, was not being given an honest chance when I gave so many honest chances.
God did not leave me in my misery, I was given an honest chance to continue what God called me to. God became my painkiller, by being the light that clears the dark, not in mere psychology, but in clear, concise reasonable thinking and wisdom. It is so clear in my mind; everything fits like a puzzle. I was shown Grace by a God who literally owed me nothing, like literally nothing.
Let me make clear, I do not know why God does not give clarity of mind to others in their times of dying. Nor would I ever blame someone who has never been given clarity of mind at all and expect to have clarity of mind in their darkest moments where their mind is scattered. That would be very ignorant and contrary to right reason (Jude 1:22 “Be merciful to those who doubt”). Though Theodicies against the problems of evil answer the philosophical inquiries, they are just mere descriptions to the human mind. They have significant background knowledge that can help with the overwhelming of emotions, but very little with our conditions.
God gave me an honest chance so I could be an honest chance for others. “If we opened our eyes each morning and said, “it is time for one of the sons of God to get out of bed clothed in the righteousness of Christ and be led by the Holy Spirit to bring Kingdom rule and dominion to the world around me, starting with my own flesh” what might happen (105?.” Current Christians who understand this, it is your time to be a lover of wisdom for the sake of Wisdom himself. Let your mind become Awake to Truth and provide for others through wisdom. “You got to give a little more than you take.”
If You can hold the Stars in place
You can hold my heart the same
Whenever I fall away
Whenever I start to break
So here I am, lifting up my heart
To the one who holds the stars”
-Stars By Skillet
“The ratio of electrons to protons must be Fine-Tuned.
If altered by 1 in 10^37, then galaxies, stars, and planets would not have formed.
As we know, without galaxies, stars, and planets, no life can exist.
The ratio of electromagnetic force to gravity must be Fine-Tuned as well.
If altered by 1 in 10^40, then the mass of stars would change altering the course of the universe to have no life in it. The change in mass of stars would affect elements that are essential to intelligent life to exist.”
Proverbs 8:10-11 “Accept my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is better than jewels, and nothing desirable can equal it.”
Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”
#1: Provoke Wisdom
#2: Provoke Reason
#3: With Integrity
Have Sense and Honor