Desires may not be carnal.

Self, Spirit, Desire, Carnal


A deist dogma: don't desire diachronic dependence.

What is Desire?

desire [ < Old French desirer, < Latin desiderāre < de- (off, away) + sīdus (star) ] A wish or longing; also, that which you long for. Also: covet, crave.

Desires can be very noble and positive; for instance, the desire to follow Christ, the desire to be the best at your craft, your sexual desire for your spouse, the desire to learn Scripture, the desire to achieve a goal. Life without this sort of desire isn't much of a life. However, desires pose several spiritual problems.

One problem is in the nature of desire itself. Desire is overpowering. It takes over, overrides common sense, and causes rash decisions that can cause great harm to yourself and others. When desire does this, it's no longer a good force in your life. It becomes a new god that can't be satisfied. Once you've had the pleasure of fulfilling this sort of desire, it soon returns, demanding more. As long as you keep desiring, you suffer until you fulfill it, then enjoy until it rages again, and then you suffer again. That's why desire is sometimes described as 'passion', a word which originally meant 'suffering'. (The original meaning of 'passion' is still used of the last week of Christ's life; it's also the root of the word 'patience'.) The same kind of cycle is found on the mental side of addiction.

Another problem is in desiring the wrong things: desiring what isn't yours, desiring what ought to be shunned. In the Ten Commandments, God told us not to covet (desire) , or (in this age of adultery, especially) our neighbor's spouse. Jesus spoke of the desire for wealth, and the fact that . The desire for fame, for impulsive sex, or for power over other people, very easily twists one's life. The desire to avoid suffering is a good, protective desire on its best side. But on its worst side it can make us desperate to avoid hard truths that, if we faced them, would cause us to suffer for a while, but not nearly as much as the continued pain from avoiding the truth.

Desire can be idolatry, and can be a trap. Either way, problem-desires get in the way of spiritual living. And, in the end, the only way to end all desires and be truly satisfied is to be with God. You won't and can't get that in this life. But the Kingdom will come, and as much as you are living now as an expression of this Kingdom, you will be satisfied.

What is Carnal?

carnal [ < Latin carnalis, < carn- (flesh; animal or human meat) ] Meat-ish.

Carnal stuff is rooted in your bodily being -- material, physical, biological, and sexual. (Oh, you were hoping to see all that hot sweaty body talk, weren't you? Not here.) It is often used as a polar opposite of 'spiritual', especially among some strongly dualistic religions. Yet for Christians, the flesh was created 'good' by God, it's human beings that draw evil from it by reveling in its impulses as if those feelings were some sort of god. For this impulse-god, we contort our love relationships, glom great mounds of fatty foods, and stuff drugs into our bodies to kick them into even-stronger impulses. When you're seeking after these impulses, you're not seeking God. You're being 'carnal', and you're denying the spiritual nature which underlies everything else about you.

You can also check the dictionary for 'carnal'.

What Is Deism?

Deism: A rationalist Enlightenment philosophy, best represented by a school of thought popular among English writers of the 17th and 18th centuries. According to this view, God is seen as Creator, but as one who stopped being involved with the world sometime after it was created. God set up rational mechanisms for the world to keep operating while God is gone, and things work best when they follow those rational mechanisms. (A popular saying is that "God is in his bathtub". In that version of deism, at least it's possible for God to be aroused out of the tub to get involved.) To a full-on deist, there is no aspect of existence beyond the material world of nature, and no cause beyond logic and reasoning for anything that exists. Thus deists are often vigorous materialists.

Many of the US Founders (though by no means all of them) were deists, most outspokenly , and to some extent Thomas Jefferson. This is a very different view of God than that portrayed by the Bible, which shows a hidden but very active God who is in a love relationship with the created world and the people in it. Thus deism is typically coupled with a rejection of the idea of revelation through a scripture of any kind. But does this presume the human creature to have the very special kind of smarts that ancients used to claim only for deities? Or is that a self-intoxication of a species? The wise know that the more we know, the more we discover that we don't know. Some things have to be shown by one (or more) who does know. God knows.

What Are Diachronic and Synchronic ?

diachronic [Greek : dia- (across) + chronos (time)]. Studying something that happens as it changes itself, its form, or its role across time. This is the long view of something, not a snapshot at a particular time. It is usually called an 'historic' view.

synchronic [Greek : syn- (together) + chronos (time)]. Studying things that happen in the way they exist at one specific moment. This is the immediate-term (the 'now') view of one or more happenings as they happen at one time, a snapshot view, without reference to what happened before or after.

What is Self?

self : the whole of what makes up the entity called 'me'. There are many ways to describe it so we can make some sort of sense of its inner workings (for instance, the Greek body/soul distinction). But to a Christian, these ways of speaking are just that; they serve a function, but the core truth and mystery is that the self is one whole thing, which is a body / soul / spirit / whatever all in one. Furthermore, Christians believe that the self is not a fully separate entity. Each self is a part of God's creation and a world of other beings. Each baptized believer is a part of the larger social organism known as the Body of Christ (that is, the church universal), a redeemed part of a redeemed creation. Like it or not, the bounds are so fuzzed and the links are so plentiful that all 'solo' concepts like 'individuality' and 'privacy' and 'self-esteem' can't even approach being absolute. This doesn't mean you are not yourself, or you are not responsible for yourself, or that each of us will eventually be blended into a glob of eternal goo. There really is a distinct you, of indescribable worth. It just means you are not (and cannot be, and should not be, and must not be) the center of the universe, around which all else spins. Others are really 'other', but not in a way that their good doesn't matter for you. We're not identical, but connected by way of relationship.

When I am a child, I am me, and I am in the image of God. As I grow up, what the Spirit does in me is to grow me in that image. What the Spirit's gifts do is enable me and others to grow a people in that image. We become a part of the Spirit's purposes, and become a part of the church's mission.

What is Soul?

soul : that which makes a person the distinct person they are. This would include our sense of identity, but also what makes up our identity, most especially what arouses our emotions, what discovers itself through our body's senses, or awakens our spiritual or moral force and sense of destiny or purpose. Soul is where our freedom is rooted. (This is a Greco-Roman way of putting it. The Hebrew terms usually used in the Bible for soul and spirit have broader meanings, almost like the later idea of 'self'.) In many religions, the soul is seen as immortal -- that is, it's a side of you which does not come to an end. Christians believe the soul is brought together with its body when God's Reign comes in full.

What is Spirit?

spirit: the aspect of our being which animates us -- makes us live, move, change, do, be active, feel, think, interact. God put a spirit into us. To be 'dis-spirited' is to hide ourselves away and let it just ebb out of us, like an untended wound leaks blood. To be 'inspired' is for the Holy Spirit to quicken that aspect of us, to power it up and get it going at peak effectiveness. (Think of God doing the original CPR, in Genesis, and again in a vision in Ezekiel.) In Christian belief, God is a spirit, and is the source and creator of all other spirits. This is what makes spirituality possible. Spirits seem mysterious to us, but they're not as it seems, because each of us are part spirit. Look inside for your own, look outside for others, but there's spirit all over the place for those who take notice.

Ancient gnosticisms held that the spirit-realm is what counts, and the current material realm is illusory and not really worth much. Christianity sees the spirit-realm as part of the same reality as the material one, where the spiritual is at the base or core of all material, that which moves it or energizes it. And when the redeemed world becomes complete, it will become obvious that material and spirit are fully together, as they were all along and as they were made to be. The 'dualist' option (of two separate worlds of polar opposite value) was forever cut off from true Christianity by its founder, Jesus the Christ, who was God and human -- *The* spiritual Being who was *the* material Being sent to redeem and lead material humans.

What Is Metempsychosis?

metempsychosis [ < Greek, < metempsukhousthai (to transmigrate, move from one to another) < meta- (after, beyond, later) + empsukhos (to animate; to put in (en-) soul (psukhō)) ]

  1. the depression that sets in when a single guy realizes that he's already asked out all the women around him, and has gotten nowhere;
  2. a word designed for the purpose of tormenting spelling bee contestants;
  3. A belief in which the soul goes from one body to another, until either time ends or the soul is made pure or complete.

Metempsychosis is older than recorded history, and was probably a feature of the early religions of the Indo-Europeans and South Asians. It is fully present in Hinduism and Buddhism. In Judaism, ancient proto-Kabbalists developed a limited form of it. In Greek philosophy, Plato was its best-known supporter; it was Plato's followers who first used the term. Through Plato, belief in forms of metempsychosis influenced some early Christians, including Origen. Yet, Augustine of Hippo argued vigorously against it, and centuries later it was condemned at the Council of Florence in 1439.

Why Not Metempsychosis?

Metempsychosis conflicts with Christian belief in resurrection of the entire person, a belief which does not separate the body and the spirit from the soul. Metempsychosis treats the body as a 'container' that's not an essential part of who we are. Thus it stands with gnosticism in not treating the physical world and bodily life as being real or of any ultimate value. Its metaphysics takes us in the wrong direction.

You can also check out 'metempsychosis' in the .

What Is a Doxology?

doxology : [< Greek doxologia < doxa (glory, honor) + -logia (study < words about something)] A statement of praise to God, usually poetic or lyrical. In the worship of many religions, including Christianity, there are short hymns or songs of praise to God at certain points in a worship liturgy, especially at the beginning and end of the service and of the most important sections of a service. These are what is normally meant by 'doxology'. To a Christian, all of life with all of its duties and joys are meant as a doxology.

You can also praise God for the dictionary, where you can find the definition of 'doxology'. Now, break out the sheet music for the tune of Old Hundredth :

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him, all creatures here below!
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host!
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost! Amen.

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Spirit is as spirit does. What does yours do?