Thursday, December 31, 2009

Abortion ethics based on autonomy

The New American reports on an article published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology with the remarkable title, "An ethically justified practical approach to offering, recommending, performing, and referring for induced abortion and feticide."

What is the ethical justification for induced abortion of a fetus? From the journal article:
"Because of the immaturity of the fetal central nervous system, the fetus lacks the capacity to generate a perspective on its interests. The ethical principle of respect for autonomy and the concept of autonomy-based rights therefore do not apply to the fetus."
Autonomy-based rights is the key phrase. The assumption that rights are based on autonomy may be recent or it may be old, but I've become more aware of it mostly in the context of the abortion debate.

Note that the journal article spends no time defending this assumption. Perhaps we have simply been asleep while we allowed the scientific elite forged their own ethical framework for society to live by. However this ethical framework came into being, it's important we question it.

Initially it's easy to see how autonomy-based rights give us certain boundaries to make civilization work. Don't murder, don't steal, don't rape, etc. because you are taking away another person's chance to be in charge of her own life.

Conveniently, basing rights on personal autonomy provides a tidy justification for banning slavery. Slavery is a clear violation of personal autonomy. Since human beings failed to pick up on this for thousands of years, it's easy to see how autonomy-based rights have an aura of moral progress in our era.

But autonomy is a slippery idea. Awareness of your own self-interest is always limited at best, and it's clear that it takes a great deal of development to have even enough self-awareness to survive in this world.

How important is autonomy to the human experience, anyway? We come into this world totally dependent on someone else. And it's not as if that ends as we get older, though we often feed ourselves the illusion that it does. In such a complex economy as ours, we are always dependent on one another.

Autonomy-based rights is an ethical framework that seems to throw up rigid boundaries between human beings that shouldn't be there. Mutual love and personal connection is what makes civilization worth maintaining. If we established societal ethics purely for the sake of letting each person be an island, then society probably wouldn't last very long.

So the question is, what has a fetus gained when, after six months of development in the womb, she develops a complete central nervous system? The ability to be ever so slightly aware of her self-interest? Is that why we have children, to spawn other creatures with the ability to turn inward?

I think the fundamental problem with the ethical justification for abortion (along with perhaps some arguments against abortion) is that it severs the relationship between child and mother, and essentially between all human beings. As if the only thing that keeps a mother from killing her child is the idea that the child is aware of being distinct from her mother.

To be fair, there is a good principle behind autonomy-based rights, namely that of empathy. Will the child feel pain? Does the child have hopes and dreams that I would be ending? Of course these are questions we consider when abortion comes up. But that's not all we should consider.

Instead of ethics based on autonomy, ethics ought to be based on dignity and love. We don't kill people because they are valuable, not only to themselves but to all of us. We don't enslave people because that destroys their dignity.

And although there's no sense in trying to force people to love every person, what makes society worthwhile is that there is at least the potential between all human beings for love. It is wrong to commit a crime against another human being, not only because you wouldn't want that done to you, but also because all humans thrive when they live in harmony with one another. You are hurting yourself as much as the person you have wronged.

So it is not only our independence but our interdependence that constitutes a basis for ethics. The fact that the unborn inherently has a potential connection with other human beings, a connection of mutual love, means that she should not be killed, even in the womb.

This can affect not only the way we treat other human beings, but also the rest of the world. We don't just go around killing animals at random, because there is an inherent goodness to them, and a certain kind of love that can potentially exist between them and us. And you can see how this might be relevant in other areas of life.

I think this is a little more satisfying than a "leave each other alone" approach to ethics.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Moral and political conservatism

I spent some time this Christmas break with my relatives from the Midwest, most of whom are very conservative in both their Christian faith and in their politics.

There have been times when I've wondered, why are so many Christians so conservative in their politics? Conservatism historically is based largely on a secular point of view. As N. T. Wright points out on occasion, those who reject Darwinism most vehemently in America seem the most likely to support Darwinist economic policies, leaving it all to the "survival of the fittest."

Indeed, the idea that you can just do whatever you want with your money is not exactly a Christian idea. In Acts the Christians "had everything in common." There were pretty severe consequences for withholding money from the group (though to be fair, conservatives correctly point out that all giving was voluntary).

If you look at the way Catholics view politics, you often find very left-leaning economic ideas alongside conservative moral opinions (I've blogged about this here). And isn't this because at the heart of Christianity is a concern for the poor and the oppressed? Why wouldn't all Christians share this outlook on politics?

I'm sure there are some bad reasons why many Christians hold conservative economic and political views, but I think there are some good ones, as well. One thing to consider is demographics. Are most conservative Christians rich? I guess it all depends on your point of view, but the reality is that most of them aren't extravagantly wealthy.

You can see for yourself that the Democrats are actually the party of the extravagantly wealthy. In the last election, Obama got most of the votes of those in the $200,000+ income bracket. It's no longer the rich who are opposing big government and supporting keeping our markets free.

I've heard several people mention something like how it's a puzzle that voters in Kansas vote against their own economic interests. And it's really true, from a certain point of view. Many of these conservative voters would actually stand to gain from big government policies.

At one time I thought maybe it's just the fact that Democrats are so liberal on moral issues like abortion. (Honestly, that's distraction enough for me, even as I bounce around on my opinions about economics.) But I think it's much deeper than that.

There is a strong case to be made that it is morally wrong for the government to take control of industry, to over-regulate markets, and even to hand out benefits to the poor. Let's look at the politics of the bail-out packages that our government approved this year. The whole notion that a business can be "too big to fail" is a corrupt idea. Maybe the idea is that we're trying to save the little guy by saving a business, but this attitude is elitist. It implies that the "little guy" necessarily depends on some corporate giants.

From the conservative perspective, no business should be "too big to fail" precisely because no human is more valuable than another. In a free market, everyone has to compete according to the same rules; no one is favored because of special status. But when it comes to big government bail-outs, the rich receive special status because the poor depend on them. This is antithetical to the conservative idea of freedom.

Fundamentally, from a conservative point of view, government handouts tend to stunt people's moral growth. This is because personal responsibility is a high moral good, and hard work leads to moral growth. Whereas the liberal might feel a person can still be good without being productive, the conservative views productivity as a moral good, not just an economic good.

On the issue of giving to the poor, all Christians believe it is right for individuals to give charitably, but there is a good argument to be made that it is wrong for the government to do so. The reason is simple: it is wrong to buy votes. In protecting their self-interest, it is natural for people to vote for politicians that give them benefits. So government welfare can act like a political transaction, and what seems morally good becomes morally wrong. Charitable giving is charitable precisely because the giver doesn't receive any material benefits from it.

Conservatives who vote against their own economic self-interest are saying two things. One, they don't want to be a charity case, at least not the government's charity case. Two, they are willing to vote on higher principles than self-interest. And this is certainly a good thing, even if you don't agree with the result.

I don't think conservatives are right on every issue, but I do think there is a certain moral consistency in their social and economic views. There is a very bad assumption often made when liberals attack the moral credibility of conservatives--if something is a moral good, then you should want the government to provide it. So if you think giving money to the poor is good, then you should want the government to provide welfare.

But conservatives reject this assumption and insist that what I think is good and what I think the government should do are not equal. So I'm free to give money to the poor without believing the government should do so. This position can be difficult to defend. A lot of people have a gut reaction to it without even realizing they are making the assumption described above.

This remains a pretty tricky issue for me, one that I'll continue to think about. For now, I need to cut this off and go enjoy some more of my vacation.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Once again, it's Christmas. Time to celebrate with good food and lots of fun.

I've always found it easy to think about all the things that are wrong with the world, or with my own life, and think that I should be working on those things. How can I celebrate when there are people elsewhere who are starving? It puts a damper on the mood...

I don't recommend willful blindness to the problems of the world, but I do think it's a genuinely spiritual practice to set aside a time to enjoy the good things we're given in life. A little bit of excess once a year is, honestly, a good thing. It keeps us looking forward to a time when good things will be in true abundance.

I think maybe joy is itself a creative act of the human will. I've noticed that two different people can have very different reactions to the same thing: one can enjoy something that the other does not. Part of that difference is what you're used to. Whatever you take for granted, you sometimes don't enjoy.

But I think that when we look at the blessings we have, and we discipline our hearts and minds to truly understand how blessed we are by them, we are in a sense creating joy. Sometimes our enjoyment doesn't depend on how much stuff is put in front of us, but on how good an imagination we have.

I've certainly enjoyed this past year, and I'm going to very much enjoy this Christmas. Yes, there are many problems in the world that I'll continue to blog about, and there are many problems in my own life that I'll continue to deal with. But Christmas is a time to celebrate, when everything that is wrong with the world is eclipsed by the love shown to us by God.

My prayer for this Christmas is that we may all truly enjoy life. There's nothing hedonistic about this. True enjoyment is what we were made for, I'm convinced of it. So I'll be praying that we all learn to truly enjoy life, and I'll be practicing myself all day long!

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Social Conservatism and Power

Yesterday I read an interesting (but long) article about Robert P. George, a Princeton professor of jurisprudence and an influential conservative Christian thinker. The article got me thinking about the various ways in which Christians try to engage the culture in matters of morality.

George's approach is of the "Thomist" tradition (i.e. Thomas Aquinas), meaning that he thinks Christian moral principles can be argued on the basis of pure human reason, apart from divine revelation. This fits nicely into the secular age, in which religion is not the dominant political force.

However, even he acknowledges what other Christian thinkers say about human reason: that original sin has corrupted our ability to reason, so that we fail to see moral truths without divine revelation. Protestant tradition since Martin Luther has often stressed this.

What an interesting tension for Christians to deal with! On the one hand, if you believe in certain moral principles, you'd like to be able to convince others that those moral principles are true, hence you'd like to be able to derive those principles from pure reason.

On the other hand, the Bible does talk a lot about the "blindness" of man, the inability to see the truth without divine revelation. There is surely a lot of evidence for this in common experience, though many are stubbornly opposed to this idea as a matter of principle.

I wonder which attitude promotes a secular culture more. The second attitude encourages the separation of Church and State, does it not? If it religious truth is a matter of special revelation, then how can it be suitable for creating the laws of a nation? Leave us alone, and we'll leave you alone, that kind of thing. On the other hand, the second attitude, while it does make Christian ethics universal in scope, also makes human reason the foundation for morality, which is a highly secular idea.

If Christians are interested in winning the "culture wars," I suppose the Thomist approach makes more sense--explain to people in non-Christian terms why Christian ethics make sense. Either that or convert everyone in sight...

But I wonder, why such an interest in winning the culture "wars"?

I've been thinking a lot lately about power. There are many reasons to want power. One reason is obvious--selfish, but obvious. Power means I can do what I want.

There is, of course, a slightly more sophisticated reason to want power. If only I were in charge, with all my infinite wisdom, the world would be a better place. If people did what I say, they'd be happier. I need to save people from themselves.

It's hard not to resent this mentality. It's exactly the kind of mentality conservatives hate in liberals, and liberals hate in conservatives. Every political ideology comes with a little bit of self-righteous power-hungry arrogance that says, "Our plan will make this country better."

Awkwardly, the Christian story doesn't sound very far from this. When Jesus finally comes in judgment, then the world will be made right. It's not hard to see how someone in a modern democratic Western nation would have a problem with this.

But there's something different about this story. Christmas is a time when we celebrate the King of the Jews being born in a stable under scandalous circumstances. We celebrate the Messiah who would die the death of a criminal. "Glory to God in the highest"--how does this triumphant announcement jive with the dark scenario actually depicted in the gospels?

If Christians truly seek to "win" the "culture wars," shouldn't we first know what it means to "win"? If our Savior's life is any model, winning comes through persecution, humiliation, and death... and then finally through new life.

New life. New creation. The power of God is not found through destruction, but creation. Nor is power found through control of what limited resources this world has to offer, but through the gfit of new life, new creation.

The culture wars are fought with the noblest of intentions, I'm sure. But after all, they are wars of conquering and taking, of controlling the world's laws and institutions.

The real power is not found in controlling the world with its finite resources, but in creating something new. Jesus turned water into wine; he fed 5000 people with a few loaves and some fish; he raised his dear friend from the dead.

I realize there are battles that a Christian conservative must fight, as conscience demands. But conservatism often seems antithetical to the true meaning of Christ's birth--something new has come into this world. The kingdom of God is not about clinging to the old, but creating something new.

My heart desires something greater than winning political battles over issues like abortion or homosexuality. Oh, to actually change the world. It is creativity, not reason, that strikes me as more attractive these days. It won't do to simply be a conservative.

(Maybe this desire will lead me to do something new with this blog. I've had the same format for a long time now. I think it's time for something new. I don't know what exactly, but I can feel it.)

My prayer for Christian conservatives is that they will realize that the Kingdom of God is not about convincing the world that we have the Truth. It is about creativity, beauty, and power--perfect power expressed through love.

Instead of simply arguing that we shouldn't depend on the government for social welfare, shouldn't we instead find new creative solutions to social problems that can be implemented through local organizations?

Instead of simply arguing against abortion, shouldn't we instead find new creative ways to help mothers in need, and to celebrate life in all of its forms?

I don't know how to do these things myself; I'm just thinking out loud, as it were. And I have a feeling that my imagination is pathetically limited by my own human experiences. But imagination--that's what I think is at the core of true spirituality.

Imagine... what would it look like to truly live the way Jesus intended us to live? What did Jesus really mean when He said we would do "greater works than these"?

I guess that's a good Christmas thought to end on. Imagine... the little child of Bethlehem, actually a King. Imagine what that could really mean...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Public Funding and Freedom of Conscience

Well, the pro-life movement has been banging on recently about how this new health care bill that is about to be voted on in the Senate tomorrow (merry Christmas, America) still contains a way for public funding to be used for abortions.

Despite polling data that shows heavy opposition to the health care bill in general and abortion funding in particular, Democrats are using their political power to politely ignore the opinions of us insects.

A lot of it just comes down to misinformation and a fundamentally flawed approach to all of this legislation. Virginia Senator Mark Warner wrote the following in an e-mail:
I have also been contacted by some Virginians about the vote last week on Amendment 2962. This amendment would have prohibited any health plan participating in the insurance exchange that covers an individual who receives a federal subsidy from covering abortion. I voted to table the amendment because the current health care bill already upholds federal law, which states that no federal funds may be used for abortion unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest, or where the life of the mother is in danger.
This kind of reasoning is a little offensive. It suggests that pro-lifers are suggesting amendments just to waste time, as if we haven't actually looked at the possible implications of current legislation.

Any amendment that clarifies existing law is fine by me, especially on a subject as serious as abortion, but apparently Senate Democrats are against this. By tabling that amendment, Democrats are once again choosing to appease the radical pro-abortion groups, rather than rigorously protect the consciences of the majority of Americans.

What frustrates me is that it's impossible to make it clear just what will happen with all $800 billion that will go into this health care bill. While Democrats argue that existing law forbids it to be used for abortion, pro-lifers bring a legitimate case against this.

Just because money isn't earmarked for abortion, doesn't mean it can't be used for abortion. This health care bill, as I understand it, will subsidize many different insurance plans. If some of those plans cover abortion, even if they're not "government-owned" plans, this still constitutes public funding of abortion.

That is, if the government is going to give handouts for people to buy whatever insurance plan they want from a range of options, and some of those options cover abortion, then this constitutes public funding for abortion. When it comes down to it, I, a tax-payer, will be forced to pay into a system that does things that violate my conscience.

This is why I find the conservative argument against big government spending to be generally pretty compelling. If you let other people spend your money for you, you'd better be given an accounting of what they do with it. But that just isn't possible when it comes to the government. Their fingers are just in too many pies.

Ugh, this whole thing just makes me sick. Someone has to bang on about it. If the government is really going to take my money and then potentially let it end up in the hands of an abortionist, then that brings up serious questions about paying taxes. I've never thought about civil disobedience before, but I do occasionally wonder how bad things will get.

Maybe I'll just start eating more Domino's Pizza.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


My semester is finally over.

It's interesting how little my own grades actually meant to me this semester. Far more important were the grades I gave other people (namely my calculus students). I hate giving grades, especially for the class I taught.

Do my students know enough calculus to use in whatever profession they will choose? How in the world should I know? Do they know enough calculus to move on toward doing mathematics professionally? Not a chance--otherwise they would've taken a more advanced calculus course. The whole situation is mildly ridiculous.

Anyway, I'm glad it's over. Now I get to take a vacation. I find vacations to be highly necessary. I love what I do, but it takes a certain amount of mental energy that needs to be recharged.

Florensky talks about organizing the soul. That's definitely what I need to do. Much like my desk, my heart, soul, and mind tend to get disorganized as time goes on. Left unattended, my soul will simply collapse into chaos.

Balancing the internal and the external life is an endless struggle for human beings. The Internet makes that struggle all the more interesting. Here on this blog, the line between internal and external life is greatly blurred, isn't it? Is this a personal journal, or is it a public forum?

In search of balance, I do turn to spiritual wisdom for guidance, but I'm not always sure about what I find. For instance I read this quote today:
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door; pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matt. 6:6)

The room of the soul is the body; its doors are the five bodily senses. The soul enters its room when the mind does not wander here and there, roaming among the things and affairs of the world, but stays within, in our hearts. Our senses become closed and remain closed when we do not let them be passionately attached to external sensory things and in this way our mind remains free from every worldly attachment, and by secret mental prayer unites with God our Father. (St.Gregory Palamas)
I just don't know about this. Is the way to find God to shut everything out? The world around you is created by God. Did He mean for you to stop looking at it, or stop caring what's happening in it?

Don't get me wrong, the internal life is tremendously important. After all, the internal life must be organized just like any other part of creation. But is that where God is found? Is the only way to truly pray to first cut off the senses?

All I have energy for right now is to simply muse on the subject. I've just been thinking lately how remarkably inconsistent Christian thought has been on the subject of creation. Is it good or bad? I seek a spirituality that affirms the goodness of creation in every way.

What's profound to me is that once I hit the "publish post" button on my screen, the physical world around me will be changed in such a way as to affect many other people that I may not have even seen before.

Imagine that. What a profound effect we humans with our imagination have on the creation! It is as if we are agents of creation.

With that in mind, it makes me sad to think of people piously shutting off the senses in order to get close to God. Surely I can find connection to God also in organizing the world around me, as well as inside me, perhaps as something of an offering to Him.

A simple point and click will actually make a change in this world around me, and the creativity of the soul is powerfully made manifest through digital media. What a world we live in.

As I settle down this Christmas vacation to organize my soul and re-energize my mind, I hope also to write down my thoughts for the whole world to see, because, you see, the human soul is not simply a matter of the internal life. The human soul is a powerful creative force constantly making its mark on the world around it.

My soul needs rest. Somehow writing does provide rest, even in the effort it takes to force myself to do it.

It turns out my body needs rest, too, so good night everyone. Hope you've got your Christmas shopping done.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Reason and Power

For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power. --1 Corinthians 4:20

So often I have read the words of Jesus in John's gospel and thought, "This guy doesn't make any sense." In fact, the most shocking conversion stories to me are the ones in which a Christian claims to have come to believe because of John.

Just what were they smoking?

Just go right to John 3, one of the most beloved passages in the whole New Testament.
Nicodemus... came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? ..." Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit."
Far from clarifying what he just said, Jesus just makes it stronger: you must be born from above. And frankly, the way he said it in the first place just came out of nowhere. What's Nicodemus to think?

Or turn over to John 6, and read
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."
Once again, what are the Jews to think? Instead of clarifying, he just makes what he just said even more offensive.

In my humble opinion, the worst thing you can ever do with these passages is explain them, justify them, make them your own. I confess I get a little irritable with a person who does this, whether it's a Catholic explaining why this means transubstantiation is real or a Protestant explaining why a "born-again" experience is the only way to salvation.

Something always bothers me about John, to such an extent that I feel you have to be asleep not to be bothered by it. But it's John more than anything else that has caused me to think lately about what I call the tragedy of reason.

"Justify your answer." These words are the hallmark of reason. Justification: you have to have it to pass your final exam in mathematics, or to win the approval of your thesis committee, or to win the respect of your peers who wonder why you believe what you believe.

"Justify your answer." It might as well be "justify yourself." Reason is defense. It is a substitute for power--or a means of obtaining it.

Our entire legal system is based on a complex web of reason and logic. Why? Because reason shifts the balance of power. The weak can defend themselves against the strong by a forceful use of language. If I can prove that I have been wronged, then I can topple even the richest and most powerful corporation. Power makes an empire, but reason makes a civilization.

Just think of it: what can possibly be scarier than someone who never has to justify what he does? Someone for whom reason is an obsolete tool?

When someone utterly fails to give reasons that satisfy the rest of us, we call that person crazy. Their words don't connect logically; we fail to see an order to their behavior. Crazy people who have little power we simply medicate. Crazy people who are dangerous, we lock up. Crazy people who have power--well, we usually try to kill them.

Is this not how Jesus was received? "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" (8:48) "Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" (19:10)

Why doesn't Jesus defend himself in any logical way? Why not write out a theological treatise that makes it all clear? Why not invite the whole world to see plainly and rationally that He is God incarnate?

"Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going... You judge by human standards; I judge no one" (8:14-15) For Jesus, reason is obsolete. He need not justify Himself. He knows where He is from.

John's gospel is about power, not reason. It is about empire, not civilization. Civilization works with finite resources as efficiently as it can. Jesus has limitless resources, for He speaks new things into existence.

Human empires have no power but the power of destruction; but God's empire has the power of creation. That is why God Incarnate is bold enough to drink the cup of His own destruction down to the bottom, for He has power to lay down His life and take it up again. (10:18)

Jesus does not ask that we simply admire this power in Him. He asks that we follow Him. "Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (12:25) He came not only to demonstrate power, but to empower others. Those who can drink deep the cup of their own destruction with confidence--they must truly be invincible.

And yet what is the chief commandment of this man who is mad with power? "Love one another." This is the mystery of the Christian faith.

If reason is obsolete, what, then? Will we ever understand? How can we know God if He does not explain Himself? No question can better summarize the tragedy of reason.

We humans love reason because we have broken this world apart. We love reason because we hate each other. We demand explanation! What are you doing? What do you mean? How do you know that? It is a systemic hatred, not necessarily felt by all who participate in it. It is simply the human condition.

Reason is good; creation is better. For now humans use reason to justify the way we use limited resources. John urges us to enjoy God's limitless abundance without shame.

My application of all this: creativity is more fundamental than reason. Power is seen not in destruction, nor even in reason, but in creation. Reason is an act of defense; creativity is an act of love. Life is not a zero-sum game, for life can be found in eternal abundance.

Oh, that my life were already being lived this way.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A year of blogging

I haven't been blogging much recently. Shockingly enough, there are times when grad school is really busy. But I suppose that's not the real reason. Sometimes I just run out of things to say.

Not that there aren't things to say.

I could blog about the Stupak amendment (now in the form of the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment) which would prohibit public funds from going toward abortion. How anyone could be against this amendment is beyond me, but somehow many Democrats manage to show moral ineptitude once again.

(Fortunately my representative, Tom Perriello, a Democrat, did vote for the Stupak amendment--clearly because I bothered to pick up the phone and call his office.)

I could blog about the recent "climategate"--the discovery that scientists are people, too. The whole "climate change" controversy is an intriguging one. I think it's unique in how a purely empirical question can draw in such widespread discussion of economic, moral, and even theological questions. It's no wonder we'd start to care about scientists' personal motivations on this issue.

It's certainly not as if there's nothing going on.

But I suppose my blogging is the condensation that forms in the nebulous clouds of my day-to-day thoughts, and sometimes those clouds are scattered too quickly.

And then sometimes I just feel too tired to write, or maybe too discouraged. I can't help feeling like such a tiny blip in this universe. I don't know why that's sometimes comforting and sometimes depressing. But lately it hasn't been the greatest motivation.

I started blogging more than a year ago. I remember exactly why. While millions of people felt a wave of optimism over the election of Barack Obama, I actually felt quite the opposite. I felt, and still feel, that Obama would take us in the wrong direction on a lot of issues.

(Obama's approval rating recently dropped below 50%. I guess maybe some other people out there agree with me on a few things.)

My blog has been far from only political, though. It really is what the title says it is--whatever I'm thinking about, I blog. In many ways it's my way of publicly compiling my own search for a coherent outlook on life. Philosophy, religion, and mathematics have all been subjects on my blog. Someday I hope to find some underlying unity to all of these subjects.

But for various reasons, I just feel scattered lately, like there's not much of a unity to it at all. I guess I have to remember that I'm subject to many more forces than my own thoughts or goals. It's only natural to be scattered by forces beyond my control.

At this point I could summarize my faith in God in this way: though I might be blown away in the wind, yet there is a Oneness that is present--before all things, in all things, beyond all things, and for all things. He is in control. My scattered fate is in His loving hands.

Maybe this Christmas break will lift my spirits. God knows I could use a break.

Well, good night, cyberspace. I'll write you again when I have more to say.