The cry of "Hoka Hey" was said to be the battle cry of the Lakota warrior Crazy Horse. It means "It is a good day to die." I may die today but it is good because I fought today and faced my fears head on. It is life affirming stoicism. It is another way of saying that living for a great moment is better than living a life of misery and slavery. Shakespeare's point that it is better to die once with courage than to die a thousand times in a life of fear. Facing death as a means to a more expansive life in the moment. As Dr. Yalom stated, "To Live fully one must accept that it ends." Quality of life is more important than longevity of life in the Hoka Hey Philosophy. One day as a lion instead of a thousand as a sheep is the metaphor for the warrior philosophy. But it is not a natural drive for the human being who seeks to survive and to be secure. To be a lion may be dignified but it is not romantic or easy. Humans shrink back from the brink of Hoka Hey stoicism and cling to ideologies and systems that promise security. Hoka Hey as a philosophy can have its problems if not tempered with wisdom in that it could be perceived as a martyrdom apology, militaristic propaganda or just plain machismo. With wisdom it can be a positive force to challenge inertia in life and awaken thoughts and ideas that bring greater meaning and greater vitality to your life. Instead of accepting the status quo and being effaced by life this strong stoicism produces more energy and more awareness. Constructive Hoka Hey if you will instead of destructive Hoka Hey. Tomorrow do your worst for I have lived today.
"I fought, and that's a lot. I thought I could win ... but nature and luck curbed my endeavour. But it's already something that I took up the struggle, because I see that victory is in the hands of Fate. In me was what was possible and what no future century will be able to deny to me: what a winner could give from his own; that I did not fear death, that I did not submit, my face firm, to anyone of my breed; that I preferred courageous death to pavid life." Giordano Bruno, Burned at the stake for his freethinking philosophy in Rome year 1600
"There is no doubt that healthy-mindedness is inadequate as a philosophical doctrine, because the evil facts which it positively refuses to account for are a genuine portion of reality; and they may after all be the best key to life's significance, and possibly the only openers of our eyes to the deepest levels of truth." William James
"The irony of man's condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive." Ernest Becker
"Death is all that was before us. What does it matter, after all, whether you cease to be or never begin, when the result of either is that you do not exist?...The man, though, whom you should admire and imitate is the one who finds it a joy to live and in spite of that is not reluctant to die." Seneca
Ernest Becker, the Pulitzer Prize winning author, wrote, “In order to turn out a piece of work the author has to exaggerate the emphasis of it, to oppose it in a forcefully competitive way to other versions of the truth…the problem is to find the truth underneath the exaggeration.” When it comes to the variations of meaning within conflict and tragedy one is confronted with the limitations of covering such a broad subject when it is so complex in nature. The will to meaning within the human experience has had important consequences for the world. It is hard to exaggerate the influential aspects of the pursuit for purpose when the will to meaning in human experience has given so many the strength to deal with the blows of fate. But there is a dark side to the will to meaning and the denial of death.
The human ability to give meaning to colors, flags, stories, and symbols has often led to two or more movements to battle in a bloody conflict for hegemony. Becker wrote, “The last thing man can admit to himself is that his life-ways are arbitrary: this is one of the reasons that people often show derisive glee and scorn over the ‘strange’ customs of other lands—it is a defense against the awareness that his own way of life may be just as fundamentally contrived as any other. One culture is always a potential menace to another because it is a living example that life can go on heroically without a value framework totally alien to one’s own.” The transference of life and meaning to objects and symbols is a human trait that makes conflict more probable. It is no longer a piece of land, cloth, stone or building…but my very life and existence. Two heroic systems that are born from this escape from oblivion and this will to significance, cannot stand to co-exist with one another because their mere existence points to the fallacy of their absolute superiority. Thus genocide is even justified…kill the people to keep the ideology alive. Humans have often sacrificed real life for imaginary life.
I do not want to discredit humanity as a hopeless endeavor. A few years ago a friend and I went on a road trip. We came across a car that was stopped at the side of the road. I will never forget what I saw. I saw a woman sitting on the side of the road holding a dying deer. She gently stroked the creature’s head as it lay in her lap. My faith in humanity sparked again by its ability to give a damn. That woman made a horrible act of chance into a beautiful image of hope. Despite the indifference of the universe we humans still have the choice to care about the universe.
The universe is not built towards human happiness or fulfillment. Human happiness must be manufactured by human beings. The human ability to create through art, words, or other symbols is also the human ability to destroy. If a creature can create it can also destroy. The good and the bad of humanity is one. The complexity of it makes it less of dichotomy and more of a fusion. Nature is not cruel or beautiful rather it is both cruel and beautiful. The lion that takes the life of a baby gazelle does so under the beauty of the African landscape. A viciousness backed with the scenery of a lost paradise.
Policy makers who do not study humans on a micro level are “like a blind man in a dark basement searching for a black cat—that is not even there!” It is like an auto mechanic who only knows the outward workings of a car but has not grasp of the engine, the inward driving force. He can tell you how to drive it but not help you fix it. The study of human psyche and emotions should be a requirement to the world of policy makers if it hopes to really face the human challenges in the 21st century. When it comes to global politics human feelings and emotions can be as dominant and relevant as any empirical data that is produced. As Patricia Crone noted, “The very purpose of ideal types is to simplify a complex reality.”
A Christian Apologist like William Lane Craig does not study Science or philosophy because he wants to understand and know more for the sake of curiosity but instead he uses knowledge as a will to ideological power. A means of intimidation and manipulation. Craig is the Christian Orientalist and Colonialist in the manner of the critique of Edward Said. Edward Said noted that Western Colonial powers studied a culture not to genuinely understand it but rather to dominate and control it. Craig uses science and philosophy when it is convenient to his ideology.Craig uses knowledge instead of truly seeking knowledge. William Lane Craig for that reason is a corrupt philosopher. Knowledge as a will to power not as a will to truth. He seeks to win not to be wise. There is a high degree of smugness with William Lane Craig. Ernest Becker noted that dogma gives the human the ability to be smug about death and terror. Voltaire stated that doubt is uncomfortable but certainty ridiculous. Craig's ability to be smug when he believes in Biblical miracles is surely a sign the Enlightenment never really took to American Society. William Lane Craig's apologetic presentations may be organized and disciplined in his delivery but it lacks the meat and weight of the burden of the philosopher. Craig is a suppressed philosopher who has never wrestled with despair and never allowed for the release of the Titans in his mind. Michel de Montaigne said that "Philosophy is Doubt" but for WLC it is his faith. Faith in his credentials even more than his God. He attacked Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins for being philosophical lightweights compared to his credentials and yet most of the Christian community he swims in are full of people much less educated than Christopher Hitchens or Dawkins. And what about his own weaknesses including his lack of credentials in Biology or Astronomy? Dr. Craig speaks of Richard Dawkins and the New Atheists lack of command of philosophy and theology and yet I wonder if his lack of scientific specialization ever gives him any pause? WLC lacks the education Dawkins has in Biology. Should WLC get a doctorate in Biology before he discusses anything to do with Science?
WLC does not chastise the lack of scholarly knowledge in the faith community that he swims in as long as they agree to his vision of God. For William Lane Craig it is not the pursuit of knowledge that matters but instead that you submit to his ideology. Craig does not want people to study more he wants an Amen from the credulous crowd. For Craig there is no pressing need for Christians to study more just trust in his scholarship and pay him to go up against those troublesome skeptics.If there was a true scholarly revolution in the American Church there would be less faith and more doubts in the fundamentalism that Craig champions. If more Christians were sophisticated Bible Scholars there would be more Crossans, Borgs and Ehrmans and less fundamentalism like Craigs brand. Craig does not give good reasons for faith in Jesus but he gives good reasons for faith in himself! Craig gives believers less educated than Hitchens reasons to feel good about themselves being credulous. If an educated man like Craig is a believer than I am ok. Craig shows contempt for the layman and yet he expects the layman to follow him without question. Again this points to his desire for the layman to submit more to his scholarship not to study more for themselves.
WLC lacks humility and imagination. Wisdom requires some humility. Knowledge requires curiosity and compassionate people need imagination to be empathetic. Craig lacks on all three fronts except in knowledge as a will to power. In his debate with Victor Stenger the topic of Christianity coming late in evolution and human history was brought up. Craig actually got into the numbers game of how many humans suffered and died before Jesus showed up in human history. Something Adolf Eichmann would surely appreciate. The lack of empathy and imagination is there to see-(it was only millions of Jews who perished in the holocaust not billions?) what empathy! -if this is where Christian Apologists want to make their stand there is no amount of shame possible to get them to be people of compassion.
Mary Jo Sharp has a blog called “Confident Christianity” with the type of followers of William Lane Craig it should be called “Cocky Christianity.” WLC followers are so enamored with his presentation, organization and discipline that they forget what really matters is if he is speaking for the truth or not. What matters to them is that he gets his God concept off on a theological technicality instead of caring for the reality of whether God does exist or whether Jesus is God. What matters to them is that he wins a point or two in debate tactic comparisons versus the unadulterated truth. This insecure juvenile reaction of cocky Christianity lacks the humility of the Nazarene and the faith of the early Christians.It is American Christianity with an emphasis on winning a game instead of sincere faith in the man of sorrow in early Christianity. Christian apologetics as entertainment value not a way to wrestle with knowledge and God. No matter how many philosophical cliffs WLC takes you to he still has no bridge to build to his Christian God. In the end it takes a leap of faith. But the prideful Craig has a hard time admitting that leap. Mark 10:15 (New King James Version) " Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."
For William Lane Craig it takes a scholar and a scholar who agrees with him completely! Where does reason end and faith begin for Craig? If it is not faith is it Christianity? Is it faith in himself? What is the genuine anchor for Craig -Faith or Reason?
1 Corinthians 1:20- Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? Jeremiah 9: 23 This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches,but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD.
Where is the humility, kindness, justice and genuine faith in William Lane Craig's Christian Apologetics? It lacks these but it has plenty of pride, sophistry, smugness and indifference. "Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete." -The Apostle Paul William Lane Craig is a human mortal with all the limitation, baggage and bias that we all carry. His knowledge is incomplete. He needs faith to get to the Christian God. Can he even admit what the Apostle Paul stated? Or is he so invested in protecting his pride and his tribe that he fails to see his own weakness and fragility?
William Lane Craig Critiques Christopher Hitchens Debate
I believe it was Christian Apologist Mary Jo Sharp or perhaps Ravi Zacharias who when the problem of evil comes up claim that it is the emotional problem of evil. Those emotional skeptics versus those dispassionate rational believers is another dishonest picture painted by desperate apologists who want to change the subject. The argument from Epicurus is strong logically and to pretend otherwise is more obfuscation in Christian apology. I am sure Mary Jo Sharp and Ravi Zacharias are so beyond mere mortals that emotional attachment has nothing to do with their lives and beliefs? Religion has had such power in human society precisely because of emotion! Religion takes advantage of the emotional family and community ties to influence individuals to join a particular faith group. The emotional connection to children, mates, and parents are often key to making one stay in their religious group. The emotional cultural moments of marriage, the birth of children, and the death of loved ones keeps many people attached to their religion on emotional needs alone. The pursuit of what is true is not even on the agenda when your life is so tied to the community of faith. Christian apologists are mere mortals who are susceptible to emotional attachment needs like any other human being. To pretend otherwise is intellectually dishonest and emotionally dishonest!
Religion -Birth, Sex, and Death. The Cultural Emotional Meme Par Excellence
Christian Apologist Gary Habermas: "Skeptics must provide more than alternative theories to the Resurrection; they must provide first-century evidence for those theories." I find this assertion by Habermas that there needs to be another evidential(writing?) explanation in the time of Jesus besides the one from the early Christians for it to be a viable alternative. What kind of evidence does Habermas want? The bones and DNA of the man Jesus? The Romans did not keep the bodies of those they killed intact after the crucifixion by the state. The missing body of Jesus is not miraculous but rather a likely natural event considering the Romans. To the world at that point the man Jesus was not important enough to keep historical records that Habermas demands. Jesus was important to Christians not to the rest of the Roman world. Therefor we are left with mostly Christian testimony which is extremely biased. The Christian evidence is nothing more than the writing that followed many years later. The reason Western Civilization has been burdened with this occult is because the early Christians wrote down their magical explanations. That is the power of the written word in human culture.
Habermas cannot expect 21st century science and ideas in 1st century Palestine. That is like asking for another written record of the Story of Troy in Homer's era and if there are no other written stories then the magical gods mentioned must be the only explanation. I find this to be a dishonest non sequitur. Why not a more complex view where history and myth are woven together as it truly was in the pre enlightenment world. You want a post enlightenment critique and explanation in writing in a pre enlightenment world where religious credulity was the norm.And according to you without such a written critique the magical explanation is better than the natural explanations? If the only surviving writings are supernatural then they must be true? How much mythology must one swallow in human history with this proposition! Not to mention the Gospels are decades after Jesus and all of of them have contradictions and have different representations of who Jesus is. The Jesus in Mark is very different from the Jesus in John's gospel. I notice that Christian apologists like Habermas and Craig use the word "must" when a must is not called for. You must believe an impossible supernatural explanation because they say so? I must deny their sophistry to keep from being manipulated into a 1st century occult. The curse of man, and cause of nearly all of his woes, is his stupendous capacity for believing the incredible. -H.L. Mencken
Magic in the mind is a passing dream but magic in written form is religions staying power.
Humans want to understand and in their rush to understand they come to lazy conclusions and generalizations to comfort their lack of control and knowledge in a chaotic and overwhelming universe. People like to judge not necessarily because they are self-righteous but rather like a computer program they process information immediately…no matter how small or limited the information might be. The bigger the gap in knowledge or experience the more necessary it is to rely on the illusion of labels that is based on little or no reality.
A little knowledge mixed with a compulsory need to understand in real time leads to pathetic and cartoon like conclusions. Instead of taking the time and resources to study and understand something thoroughly it is easier to rely on the crutch of labels to once again ease your troubled mind. Complexity, ambiguity, and mystery do not give comfort to the human who lives in a bubble of his or her own prejudice. Life is a mix of necessity and possibility and those who ignore either one do so at their own peril. Necessity is more difficult to ignore but possibility still exists only waiting for the person of daring to take advantage of it.
Things that usually fit nicely into boxes are not living things and if they are they usually are forced there. We clip a bird's wings to force them into cages and we clip our own thoughts to imprison ourselves in the secure confines of ignorance and prejudice. Kierkegaard stated, "Once you label me you negate me." For instance expressions such as "well he or she is _____ therefore…" Fill the blank in with religion, ethnicity, political or cultural identifications and you see the apparent presumptions. Once people label someone they become prisoners to their own prejudice. So psychologically they are able to negate the other no matter what truth or logic is being communicated. That is the paralyzing impact of label pushers but unfortunately some would rather be paralyzed in ignorance than take on the burden of freethought. The label becomes the filter and only information that coincides with the label is able to come through, thus the arrogance of ignorance is reinforced. It is safe and comfortable in the cage of prejudice and pretentious thought but you are only negating yourself in the process. When Kierkegaard said that by labeling him you negate him there is a boomerang factor in this process. Negating and labeling others also limits your own possibility and intelligent inquiry. You limit yourself and in doing so only wrap a chain around your own mind. In truth one negates oneself by imprisoning ones own thought possibility. You imprison yourself when you prejudge others based on shallow information. You limit yourself to the shallow waters of labels and presumptions instead of daring out into the deep ocean of possibilities.
People have more of a diverse and intricate background than their skin, religion or country of origin suggests and those who do not have the intellectual fortitude or courage to know otherwise are only allowing themselves to sink deeper into their own mental prison.There are people who will judge a man with as little information as his skin color. That is the height of hubris. Ignorance always attaches itself to arrogance.
I am skeptical of those who speak with certainty on whole groups because unless they have lived a thousand years in a thousand different worlds and experiences they are limited by their minute time and space on this earth. It is important to accept and admit ones own limitations in order to accept the wisdom that only comes by patient observation over time. The fountain of wisdom does not flow like the Niagara Falls but rather drips incrementally and painstakingly. People who rely on generalizations and labels are handicapped in their knowledge and proceed to assist their weakness with judgments that are as lame as their ego. People are afraid of not knowing so they rely on hearsay or one previous experience to ease the pressure or tension of complexity and possibility. Humans should be able to reflect and not simply react. Some people actually base their judgments of whole groups of persons based on meeting one person they consider part of that group…and usually the connection is a shallow one at that. Between necessity and possibility humans unnecessarily trap themselves into fixed ideologies ironically making it impossible to experience life in the chaotic yet freeing realm of possibility. Kierkegaard wanted this epitaph on his tomb "Here lies an individual." Being part of a group or identifying yourself with something larger may be a biological instinct but it can also be an intellectually limiting force. Groups can give you security but in doing so the herd can also limit your realm of possibility. To not have identity or origin or "home" can cause anxiety and dread as Kierkegaard knew but the opposite impact can be a life of diverse experience and greater expansion. To paraphrase Immortal Technique, "Your opinions of me are like little kids throwing ice cubes at the sun." Again I second that to say that you label pushers are wasting your time and your mind with the ice cubes of presumptions compared to the gigantic and expansive heat of reality and possibility. (Here is a possibility and that is we don't even know ourselves much less that someone else does or is capable to.) Know thyself the ancient Greeks proclaimed…a much more worthy endeavor then prejudging others. Think out of the box and others who put you there can stay there.
"Man is a frightened animal who must lie in order to live. Societies are standardized systems of death denial. " -Ernest Becker
Humans hide from mortality in many ways. We hide our dead. We hide our waste. We hide our bodies. We hide our foods origin. We are hiding from the knowledge that we are animals too. The Animal is eaten. The Animal dies into oblivion. That is why Darwin and Evolution have been a source of contention for cultural apologists because culture is the imaginary boundary to protect the human species from the reality of the animal kingdom. "I am not an animal" the human proclaims to deny death and to deny the fragility of life. Culture gives the human the illusion that it will rise above the fate of the animal.
Kierkegaard's torment was the direct result of seeing the world as it really is in relation to his situation as a creature. The prison of one's character is painstakingly built to deny one thing and one thing alone: one's creatureliness. The creatureliness is the terror. Once you admit that you are a defecating creature and you invite the primeval ocean of creature anxiety to flood over you. But it is more than creature anxiety, it is also man's anxiety, the anxiety that results from the human paradox that man is an animal who is conscious of his animal limitation. Anxiety is the result of the perception of the truth of one's condition. What does it mean to be a self-conscious animal? The idea is ludicrous, if it is not monstrous.
What would the average man do with a full consciousness of absurdity? He has fashioned his character for the precise purpose of putting it between himself and the facts of life; it is his special tour-de-force that allows him to ignore incongruities, to nourish himself on impossibilities, to thrive on blindness. He accomplishes thereby a peculiarly human victory: the ability to be smug about terror. Sartre has called man a "useless passion" because he is so hopelessly bungled, so deluded about his true condition. He wants to be a god with only the equipment of an animal, and so he thrives on fantasies. As Ortega so well put it in the epigraph we have used for this chapter, man uses his ideas for the defense of his existence, to frighten away reality.
Life is beautiful and brutal. It is awe and dread. A mixture? A complexity that is not easy for the human ego to digest. Amazing to some and horrific to others. Life from many angles can be overwhelming. Some draw dogmatic lines of certainty to combat awe and dread others seek to be numb through various ways of distraction. Different realities all existing at the same time. One is born, one dies. One is enjoying food- another starves. One is enjoying pleasure and another suffers in pain. Energy consumed-Energy released.
All happening on such a grand scale of geological time that the human mind is not capable of staying there for too long. Moment of focus vanishes to the necessity of taking care of ones immediate surroundings. Existence is beyond the human box of dogma-life is. Living In Finite Existence. Amazing and Horrific. Cultural distraction or religious identity becomes the stage for some. For others the abyss is something to face. To paraphrase- if a better way there be it involves looking at the worst and the best of life. Some choose dogmatic lines to define life. But life does not fit into human boxes. It does not consider the human ambition to be certain and in control. Laughter and tears-comedy and tragedy on the same face. To deny the beauty would be cynical to deny the suffering would be dishonest and a lack of awareness. "If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility! " Soren Kierkegaard
When I consider the Gaia and Medea hypothesis's put forth by Lovelock and Ward I see it as a difference of emphasis and a point of what one highlights versus a right or wrong dichotomy. Life is a dynamic mix of life and death. Awesome and dreadful. Wonderful and horrific. Beauty and agony. Order and chaos. Beyond the dogma. To use an ancient roman god I would use a metaphor of the Janus god. The two faced god interlocked and connected. The two faces of Gaia and Medea are one. The Janus hypothesis.
Janus: Roman god of doorways and archways, after whom the month of January is named. Often depicted as a double-faced head, he was a deity of beginnings. He was one of the principal Roman gods, the custodian of the universe. Janus was usually represented with two bearded heads placed back to back so that he might look in two directions at the same time. Symbolic for entrances or exits-His chief function was as guardian deity of gates and doors.
Entrances and exits. Life and death. Evolution and extinction. The day and night exist in reference to each other. Gaia and Medea do not face in each other in conflict but attached to each other they face their gateways of life and death in unison. Another way to look at it is through the perspective of Cosmic Evolution when one considers the violence of exploding stars and how that brought about a process of new life birthing planets and new stars. Our Sun in our solar system and the Earth itself comes from a supernova. A violent death bringing new life. Medea working with Gaia in a dynamic mix of destruction and creation.
When Fyodor Dostoevsky was arrested on April 23, 1849 and sentenced to death for being a radical and threat to the Czar-- the Russian police had him lined up in the freezing cold and ready to shoot him down. They left him there waiting for the blast of gunfire that would take his life. During this time the others lined up broke down but Dostoevsky remained steadfast. After this exercise he was imprisoned in Siberia and spent four years of hard labor with many other prisoners who were in for murder. During this time Dostoevsky realized that these fellow brutalized humans in Siberia were what Nietzsche called the strong sick man. They had a strength and a resource that the average human could not draw from but this inner power was poisoned with the criminal mind. Dostoevsky recognized a virtue in this inner force that was a push back with energy that gave one the resources to deal with anything. Dostoevsky's dynamic mix. Dostoevsky had a critical mind to be able to see the good in the presumed bad and the bad in the perceived good. Nietzsche stated "The criminal type is the type of the strong human being under unfavorable circumstances: a strong human being made sick... Dostoevsky, the only psychologist, incidentally, from whom I had something to learn...lived for a long time among the convicts in Siberia—hardened criminals for whom there was no way back to society—and found them very different from what he himself had expected: they were carved out of just about the best, hardest, and most valuable wood that grows anywhere on Russian soil."
The Warrior Scholar
In the movie Eastern Promises the character Nikolai played by Viggo Mortensen reminds me of Dostoevsky's strong criminal. A dual force of brutal strength and compassion with understanding. This dualism is what Dostoevsky was observing in the harshness of that Siberian prison. ElieWiesel who survived the hell of Auschwitz wrote, "But now, I no longer pleaded for anything. I was no longer able to lament. On the contrary, I felt very strong… My eyes had opened …" That resource that came to him as a bolt of lightning can be very powerful as long as one survives its touch. It is like an eagle that does not look for shelter during a storm but rises above the clouds and the storm itself. Tupac talked about a rose that grew from concrete. It would rise with deformities due to its struggle but it would be much more powerful and stronger than most for the same reason.
A deep pool of strength and defiance energized by adversity and yet it is combined with a calm steel like peace. Like the fictional fight club it starts with cookie dough characters whose biggest crisis is missing their favorite tv show and ends in those being carved out of wood and tougher than leather who are able to remain resolved and cool in various degrees of high drama. "We burn the fat off our souls."
"Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter" Dr. Martin Luther King
Author of Blog
Born in the United States of America. Spent my Childhood in Kenya, East Africa. Graduate of George Mason University in Global Affairs with a concentration in Africa and the Middle East. What I desire is not total agreement but thoughtful people. To share ideas and expand knowledge in the era of globalization.