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If you post comments here at Theos Project, please know that I will respond and engage your thoughts in a timely manner.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Read this post

I want you to take some time to think about what motivates you to be such a good person. No false humility here, because deep down you know you're a good person; at least compared to all the other saps out there!

Here are a quick 35 questions to start your thinking!

So, what's your motivation for doing right? What's your motivation for doing good? Why do you keep the rules? Perhaps there is a sense of duty? What expectations have you felt placed upon you, expectations from family, work, school, society? What kinds of "Do this" and "Don't do that" commands are most important to you? And who told you that they were important? And why did you believe the people who told you?

What are the "rights" and "wrongs" that you feel strongly about? What are the "rights" and "wrongs" that you don't feel strongly about but that others find really important? And how did you come to rest on certain things as "right" and certain things as "wrong"? Did someone teach you? Or is it just "obvious" to you? Or perhaps some combination of both? Or have you never really thought it through before?

What are the taboos you live by? And where did they come from? Are there certain taboos that you would never consider doing because even the thought of them makes your stomach uneasy? Or, conversely, are you living to rebel against taboos that you believe were absurd, unfair, or illegitimate? If this is the case, do these taboos you are rebelling against make you want to break them just because people have imposed them on you?

What do you not do for fear of experiencing shame? Or, to reverse it, what are the things that you are intriguing precisely because they are shameful (and thus they are mysteriously intriguing)?

Are you a responsible person? Do you feel the need to be on time? Or, perhaps, are there others that you care for? Or are there standards that you live up to because you feel responsible to set an example for others?

How are you conforming to norms? What are the expectations that are placed upon? Expectations perhaps from religion? Or from family? Or from work?

What kinds of things do you do (or not do) so that people don't perceive us you as "a bad person"? What do you do to maintain a reputation as a "good person"? Or, perhaps you go the other way? Maybe you want to be perceived as bad and so you therefore break the rule intentionally?

All of the above are issues of law. I am trying to get you to evaluate your life. What obligations impress themselves on you? These obligations are laws: you must do this or you must not do that.

How much of your life is dictated by laws? If you are a Christian or a religious type, what kinds of things do you do because they are the law? Not that law always has to be a formal thing; in fact, it can be an unspoken or even unconscious expectation or norm.

Why do we keep the law? What is it about these laws that drives us? That's what I'm wondering.

Law = Obligation

So much of our lives are lived based on obligation, and I want to flesh this out a little. Essentially, I think most of life is all about law. We are almost like machines in the fact that we do most of what we do because of obligation.

So, from a theological perspective, how does this relate with love? Do Christians really do what they do because they love God? I think for most Christians the church exists to put forth a new and better set of rules. After all, who really keeps the rules because they love God? Obedience that comes from love is more of a phantom idea. We tell ourselves that we obey the Christian laws because we love Jesus but the motivation of each individual act of obedience is usually because of fear of consequences.

We are human beings who cannot help but operate as law-keepers or law-breakers. We keep law out of fear and we break law out of a desire for freedom. But this is self-interest, not love.

Why do you keep the law, friend? And do law and love ever intersect for you?


Emily said...

Not a bad post. But if you have an issue with specific people, maybe you should talk to them about it.

Jonathan Erdman said...


What do you mean? Are you thinking I have an issue with a specific person?

That's my 2 cents! said...

For a freebe it's not bad...hmmmm....last I checked Xanga and Myspace were freebe's and they are much more user friendly.


Emily said...

I didn't know, but looking at your usage of "friend" at the end, I thought maybe you did have an issue. But you could have been personalizing the post by addressing your audience as "friends."

Jonathan Erdman said...

I see!

No, there is no specific friend. I was just using the term "friend" in a general (and friendly!) sense.

Melody said...

It sounds more accusatory than friendly. Maybe if it was plural it would sound less that way - and more like you're addresing everyone.