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The Folly of Human Enterprise

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There was a time in our history when the overwhelming evidence pointed to an imminent day in which all would be well on planet Earth. We were at the height of industrialization and it appeared that humanity, by virtue of its own effort, was capable of solving any obstacle that got in its way. Within a short span of 150 years we had made extraordinary advances in technology with inventions such as the cotton gin, the steam engine and electric light. These inventions catapulted a once slow and family centered economy into the fast and furious world of change that we know today. On the medical front, the new field of microbiology produced the first vaccines for cholera, anthrax and the plague produced an unprecedented optimism. Add to this the first blood transfusion and a looming vaccine for tuberculosis, and many started to believe that the maybe we could some day cheat death. On the theological front many had come to believe that the forces of Satan were being defeated and the Kingdom of God would soon be realized on earth in a 1000 year “golden age”. The revivals of Charles Finney,  D.L. Moody and R.A. Torrey were bringing in many new converts to Christianity and the Hymns of Fanny Crosby and Elisha Hoffamn drew many people into deep and personal relationships with God.

The optimism soon led to disillusionment during the first world war as we saw the devastation we could cause by our technological advances. The utilization of the airplane, machine gun and tank allowed us to kill more people with less effort. Killing had become easier than ever before; not just because of our new technology, but also because we no longer had to see the horror of death in the eyes of the one whom we had just killed. We now possessed the temptation of faceless killing. The second world war brought even more horrors as we saw the extent to which mankind would go in order to rid the world of an entire race. By the time pictures of Auschwitz and Hiroshima began to appear  most people had already abandoned their optimism for a more realistic view of human nature. To many, it appeared that Nietzche’s prophetic utterance that “God is dead”  (penned during the optimistic days of  flourishing science and religion) may have been truer than they had initially wanted to believe. The question was no longer “Is there a God”, but rather, “where is God after Auschwitz, Hiroshima, Chernobyl and 9/11″.

Today we are once again in an age of scientific discovery and general optimism. From time to time we may hear of a modern day horror but we soon get back to our optimism because we are told that we must be a resilient people.  We haven’t the time nor the desire to stop and reflect upon the suffering around us. With new breakthroughs in cellular and molecular biology just around the corner, we are once again on the verge of prolonging life and improving its quality. We no longer concern ourselves with finding God.

But all is not well. Life is (by and large) like a large masquerade ball in which nobody wishes to look upon another person’s humanness. Furthermore, we live in fear that we ourselves may be unmasked and perhaps someone might catch a glimpse of who we really are.  We live in constant fear of our soul being found naked. We fulfill our need for community through social networking sights such as myspace, facebook or twitter. The irony in this is that social networking sights use narcissism as a binding agent for community. This has completely redefined relationship. Being online is by its very nature a solitary activity-an online community is  communal solitude (We are all alone together). When we have an entire society living in a virtual world with virtual relationships we have nothing more than virtual meaning.

To escape the madness of virtual existence, we take up arms with a political cause.  Sadly, this too is often nothing more than masked fulfillment of our own depraved sensuality. We politicise the suffering around us in a pretentious attempt to protect our reproductive rights. We no longer care about the sufferer-  they are merely a means to our political agenda. The terminally ill person is viewed as an opportunity to promote embryonic stem cell therapy and the suffering of an aborted baby is viewed as a small price to pay in order to maintain our own erotic standards of living. Like David Carradine, we are willing to entice Satan himself in order to fulfill our own autoerotic fantasies.  In the end we join Protagorus in declaring ourselves to be the measure of all things.  We are, in a word, hopeless.

The folly of human enterprise is that despite the hundreds of years which have passed since the industrial revolution, we are no closer to immortality than when we first began this endeavor. Suppose one day we discover a cure for cancer, we end all wars and there is no poverty. Then what? We die. Yes . . .despite all of our best efforts, in the end we are still dead. All we have managed to do thus far is prolong our suffering. If I am going to spend my time on Earth in an extraordinary effort toward anything- I am going to make sure that it doesn’t end in folly. The only thing worth my own endeavor is an endeavor which ends in immortality. Call me selfish, but I want to live forever and I want to live forever on Earth. Not only do I want to live forever on Earth, but I want everyone that I know and love to live with me forever on Earth. Anything short of this. . . is folly.

14 thoughts on “The Folly of Human Enterprise

  1. Hey boss! It was so nice to wake up on a Sunday morning and be able to read this. I’m like so prepared for church now because my soul is thirsting for that eternal hope you always talk about.

    Hey guess what? I’m starting missions training in a few weeks! Yeah. Can you believe it? Me in missions? So yeah, we may not have internet there- IDK.

    Oh! When did you add that email updates thing? I totally signed up! How do I put it on mine? So every time you write a new post I get an email right? Cool!

    Wow. Give Jami and the kids a big hug and tell them that this lost girl is gonna be a missionary. All that praying your family does is way cool and it works!

  2. Ryan

    I found the paragraph on social networking very insightful. I’m concerned about the youth. They are texting themselves into meaninglessness. The last paragraph is chilling but true. Christ offers hope. I’m sure that is what you were inferring right? I’m with Serena. I’m signing up for the notifications. Only I’m not sure if I understand what IDK is. I see it everywhere so I’m sure it has meaning but what does that mean? Serena?

  3. Yes I think he was infering that but then again he’s been so silent for so long who really knows. Maybe he has just become hopeless and thinks there is no hope in the world at all. I guess if he’s gonna wait so long between posts we can just believe what we want (hint hint Boss). Ryan- IDK? I don’t know.

  4. Ryan

    No. Not Aaron. He wouldn’t abandon hope. He may have converted to Catholicism but he would never abandon hope. Maybe if we start enough rumors he will start updating his blog more often :-).

    Serena, the IDK notation was from your own comment. How can you know know what it means. Unless it was a typo?

  5. LOL! Maybe we can Obama him into writing more posts by threatening to take over his blog! I think you missed my point Ryan. IDK= I Don’t Know. It’s like an abbreviation or something. It means I can be lazy and text three letters instead of ten!

    Personally I was offended by the social networking comments but that doesn’t make it not true. It took me a while to get what he was saying. I had to look some words up. But yeah- its true!

  6. Okay . . . very funny guys. I’ve been meaning to update this site more often but I haven’t found the time nor the energy to do so. It’s pretty rare for me to write something which is suitable for public viewing. I even question the appropriateness of posting what I already have. The email subscription thing was something that I put up to test for another site… but if you feel it has value I can leave it up. For the time being I will commit to thinking about posting something new every Monday. I believe I worded that carefully enough to allow me to flake as often as I see fit. Maybe if I set a regular time to write I will be able to be more consistent. Of course, I want to see more writing out of you as well.

    One of the things which this site has (for the most part) lacked is a critique of the thoughts and literary style presented here. If you will commit to critiquing my writing and the thoughts presented here I would be more likely to write more often. That is one dynamic that is missing which I am currently missing in my life. Be brutal… tell me where my writing is irrelevant and boring… call me a pagan (with the love of Christ of course)… I need to be sharpened and I’m not ready to pay for it by going back to school just yet. I enjoy writing and want to become more proficient at it. I need you for that!

    Ryan, I don’t foresee myself becoming Catholic. Episcopal maybe. . . but not Catholic. I’ve always loved the Book of Common Prayer and their doctrine is closer to my beliefs than Catholicism.

    Serena… your Christian journey is just beginning. We will continue to pray. It only gets harder from here. Once the excitement wears off you will find it more difficult to be a Christian than to be almost anything else in life. It’s okay though. That is as it should be.

  7. OK so you made your depressin point about life ending in death no matter what we do and UR right but what about writing about folly of christinity? Why dont U write bout that? I can think of plenty of things that are bunk about the christan faith so lets hear both sides eh? Love ya man! I just subscribed too. Does that work pretty good? Does it keep a list for U so u know who subscribed? Peace bro.

  8. How are you Anthropolis? Nice to hear from you. If you want to write an article debunking Christianity then go right ahead. I look forward to reading it and having a reasonable discussion about it. As for me, I believe that I will write a piece on the folly of Christianity. After All, the Bible itself says that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God. Look for a new post on Monday regarding the folly of the cross. Thanks for the idea my friend:)

    I’m not all together sure how the email subscription thing works. I don’t believe that I can see who has subscribed and who hasn’t. No matter though. It’s not about keeping tabs on anyone- it’s about providing a service to those who feel they can benefit from it. In fact, you could simply tell me that you’ve subscribed in an attempt to flatter me and not really sign up. I don’t believe I would know the difference.

  9. So, I have to ask if there is going to be a part 2? You have laid out, in a very solemn manner, that as humans we are hopeless. We are striving in vain for something we cannot achieve. You alluded, in jest, to us having to be a resilient people. I think we do need to be resilient. While we need to be honest about our state, I don’t think we can dwell on it. Not as followers of Christ, anyway. The hallmark of our lives should be hope. I am not saying it’s wrong to spell out how things really are, but what if this was the one post someone read? Would they gain anything from it, other than despair?

    • I’ve been thinking about it. I think you’re right. I wanted to leave the reader with a clear feeling that human enterprise (without God) ends in despair but I may have gone too far by not offering the solution. I was wanting to correct that in my most recent post but it may not have been very effective. The fact of the matter is we have a lot to be hopeful about and, as you said, hope should be the hallmark of our lives. That’s why I am so attracted to Jurgen Moltmann and his writings. His book, Theology of Hope set the stage for the rest of his theology and it is all forward looking. For Moltmann, eschatology is not “the end times” but rather, it is the “restoration of all things”. It is Eden restored. I promised Randy that I would address the folly of the cross and I am going to do that first. But you’re right. I like Moltmann because of his theology of hope, and I responded by creating a theology of despair.

      • I like that; the “restoration of all things.” You actually did address it somewhat in your last post. However, I knew that post was not originally intended. That was why I came back to this one. I don’t think it was wrong to point out the folly of human existence. I think it is necessary. I just thought the appropriate conclusion should follow.

        “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and strong. It enters behind the curtain in the Most Holy Place in heaven, where Jesus has gone ahead of us and for us.” Heb 6. 19 – 20

        • Wow. Jami is beautiful AND smart! Your kids are gonna be super genius kind of ppl. I agree that it was kind of hopeless but like you said, it was intentional. But shes right. You need to write one countering the hopelesnes

          • Ryan

            I agree. I think their kids will grow up to be philosophers. They both have a poetic way about them when they write. I can see their kids excelling at writing too.

            I kind of liked the hopelessness of it all. There is an appropriate time for hope and an appropriate time to mourn the hopelessness that the lost find themselves in. I thought it was very powerful. I think the follow up post that you wrote demonstrated our hope very well.

  10. I don’t think hopelessness is appropriate at all. I think we need to shot them the hope they can have. Maybe I guess if someone doesn’t see it as hopeless then it is good. I dunno. For me I had to first see that my life was hopeless and I had to to grips with that before I was ever willing to surrender to Christ. No one ever told me that the life I was pursuing was folly. Once I saw that I was ready for the gospel but even tho I had heard the gospel before I didn’t think I needed it because there was nothing wrong with what I believed before. So yeah it’s good to point that out but not just that. Also point out what gives true hope!

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