Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Akrasia


Acrasia is a word used to denote the state of acting against one's better judgment. Strong's defines it as want of self-restraint : excess, incontinency. New Unger's states it is referring to an inability to restrain or having a "lack of self-control".

Fear as an emotional response to threats and danger is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of pain. Anxiety is an emotional state which typically occurs without any external threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats which are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable. Fear and anxiety about our finitude and the Malthusian theme of life create a state of acrasia; we live as physically vulnerable creatures in a Malthusian world. We are vulnerable and persuadable, powerless in resistance, in the same manner as Adam was - to 'sin'. Adam, however, did not 'sin' due to lack, fear or anxiety, the intrinsic factors, but because as a man created in the image of God; he had the desire to increase in knowledge of God and all that God had created; he had the desire to question, reason and investigate to the fullness of his capacity to understand all he could of God and God's creation; he had the desire to become as wise and powerful as God, (for knowledge is power), and be able to exist for ever, independently of God. Satan knew this. "Man is at the centre of this struggle (rebellion and independence) as a result of being made in God's image. Satan, the one who has sought the establishment of a different kingdom from that which God rules, has taken man, and all that he was made responsible for through creation, into bondage in the kingdom of darkness. The redemption of Christ is about the deliverance of man and 'nature' from this alienation and death." (Contours, p. 110) This does not impute upon God responsibility for our 'fallen nature', but it is implicit (entangled, woven, twisted together) in the defining of our free-will accountability and responsibility for our actions and decisions in light of cause and consequence.

The subsequent 'fallen nature' created the sense of lack, the fear and the anxiety associated with life as we know it. It is this life, this situation, this circumstance, this pain, this fear that tilts the mind toward selfishness, makes us competitive, makes us hoard, or preemptively attack. Death entered the realm of human existence and forced the realization of fear and anxiety as an everyday occurrence of life, creating the need to assuage those fears and anxieties and seek to create peace. We are faced with opportunity and propensity to 'sin'; "For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life --..." are available and attainable.

Our mortality, that which brings us to face the scarcity and brevity of life; our existence, which brings us to face that life is paltry and insignificant; our purpose, which is illusory and minimal, these become sources of anxiety. Eccles. 2:16, "For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool! Eccles. 3:2, "A time to be born, and a time to die; ... " Eccles. 9:5, "For the living know that they will die; ... " This, coupled with the day-to-day struggles of fighting for, redeeming and consuming a combination of resources constantly being depleted in our physical, emotional and spiritual existence. Our futile attempts to defend ourselves and secure our safety lead us into active sin and estrange us from trust in God. We have to control our lives; we have to decide how our lives are to be invested; we determine what we will do and when we will do it; and we fail to give part and parcel to God; we fail to believe and trust in the Someone Who created this mess called life. "Sinfulness is more a result of mortality than mortality from sinfulness. To say that humans are 'conceived in sin' does not mean that some guilt or evil inclination is passed on to them in the act of their conception, but that what they inherit is a mortal human nature, which became mortal as a result of sin." We are biodegradable and we know that. We also know ...

" ... what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do." We are slaves to our 'akrastic' nature the absolute control of a tyrannical ruler, our own desires. "What I carry out I do not recognize in its true nature, as a slave who ignorantly performs his master’s behest without knowing its tendency or result." Even in the realm of the Kingdom, there are those who say as personal experience that this is ... "the unregenerate man’s experience, surviving at least in memory into regenerate days, and read with regenerate eyes" (Denney).


How many times will fear win over faith? Why are we so weak-willed? "We have made a covenant with death, and with the grave we are in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves." Eccles. 8:15, "So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun. We discount the future believing in the value of the immediate needs being met ( the temporal) without regard for the long-term benefits lost (the eternal) in seeking short-term gains. We give in to short-term temptations, even when we know that the short-term payoff is less valuable than the long-term goal. "Since virtue is frequently under oppression, and vice triumphs in health, and rolls in wealth, I see plainly that we should not trouble ourselves about future things; and therefore should be governed by the maxim ...
Eat, drink, and play,
While here you may;
For soon as death
Has stopp’d your breath
Ye ne’er shall see a cheerful day."
It is also said,

"Of all who scorching Afric’s sun endure,
None like the swarthy Psyllians are secure:
With healing gifts and privileges graced,
Well in the land of serpents were they placed:
Truce with the dreadful tyrant death they have,
And border safely on (death's) realm the grave."
Rowe.
Truce; temporary, irresolute and indeterminate providing only the cessation of hostile activities without securing peace. Truce; allowing for the continuance of living within the spectre of an ambiguous existence in an uneasy, yet, oppressive environment. Living on the border of deception making falsehood our refuge.
Romans 7:20, "Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me." "My will is against it; my reason and conscience condemn it. I am in perpetual contradiction to myself. Two principles are continually contending in me for the mastery: my reason, on which the light of God shines, to show what is evil; and my passions, in which the principle of sin works, to bring forth fruit unto death." If you are a member of the Malthusian world you play/live by those rules, the rules of sin and death. The Malthusian rules of survival of the fittest are in effect and there is responsibility and guilt for the struggle that goes on, for the victims of our selfish desires, for the trail of aggrieved and disadvantaged left in the wake.
Peace is needed; He that spends his life in the eat, drink, and play, will find in that day; the day he faces his fears, when time is no longer an issue of life; that he has lost the time in which he could have prepared for eternity.

Matthew 6:31-34, "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the (world) seeks. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Be broken.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are ambiguities of religion, culture, morality, life, and creativity. To take the moral sphere as an example the following ambiguities vie with each other. In the moral act "a large amount of material is present in the psychological center--drives, inclinations, desires, more or less compulsory trends, moral experiences, ethical traditions and authorities, relations to other persons, social conditions. But the moral act is not the diagonal in which all these vectors...converge; it is the centered self which actualizes itself as a personal self by distinguishing, separating, rejecting, preferring, connecting, and in doing so, transcending its elements."
Here it is important to note that the ability to transcend the psychological interplay of competing, ambiguous motives and make a moral decision does not imply that one has made a decision about which one is not conflicted. In other words, the ability to decide does not imply the ability to resolve the dilemmas of being a finite being who wishes to fulfill ends and ideals that compete for our limited ability, attention, energy, and time. Failure is built into human experience.
It is human to have ideals and goals and morals, etc., and it is universal to human experience to have only limited success in fulfilling those ends. We thus become estranged from ourselves when we consider the gulf between what we believe we should be, what we want to be, what we desire to accomplish, etc., and what we are and do, "for life is neither essential nor existential, but ambiguous."
This follows in that our ideals and morals, etc., are expressions of our essential side and our limited abilities to fulfill those essential ends, against which our human limitations ensure that our experience will include a large doses of failure. Better stated, our best wishes "burden our consciences because we cannot do justice to all of them."
But what about our finitude? Aren't we still estranged by our failure to fully achieve our goals in the moral sphere and so many others? Yes, we are. And here we need the Christian message of forgiveness as acceptance by God despite our unacceptability.
Isn't that what the cross means--that abandoned on all sides by human failure that God still loves us?