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Published!

Check out the article I wrote for Relevant Magazine!

If you follow this blog, you have essentially read it already in the form of Tragedy and Responsibility: The Subpoena of Fate. The version posted was edited and trimmed by Relevant. Be sure to leave comments!

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It is as though all life is continually working towards relationship. We are not designed to be individuals co-existing, but individuals co-operating; a symbiosis of free, untethered wills.

Bio: Josiah is a graduate of North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. His thirst for knowledge is only surpassed by his thirst for coffee. Thus, much free time is spent in the quest for the next fix.

Tragedy and Responsibility: The Subpoena of Fate

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image by Vox Efx

Faced with recent events, we may easily understand the pangs of compassion, concern, and confusion that are felt within the wake of such tragedies that befall mankind. News reporters speak of the urgency and fear felt by those closest to the situations. Televisions and computer monitors, like the panes of glass in a window, are all that seem to separate us from the victims of tragedy. The 1960’s futurist, Marshall McLuhan, termed this “the global village,” the inevitable culmination of connection technology that would cause mankind to bear witness to all the going-ons of the planet.

It is at times like these, we unconsciously become aware of the unspoken truth: Once we have seen, we feel responsibility for the triumph of Truth in the matter. We do not celebrate the men and women who have ignored the horrors that passed in front of them, knowing them to be wrong and refusing to act through sheer lack of courage. This generation knows this truth far and above others through sheer connectedness. Human crisis and violation of rights meet underground masses when not addressed by public media. We do not truly hear the cries or see the pain of those in Haiti, Indonesia, Darfur, Uganda, Rwanda, or China. Yet, when we hear of the events in these areas, we are driven to act, or, rather, feel some guilt for not acting on the compassion we feel. Do we sacrifice as much as we can? Do we truly conceive of the gravity of the situation? With contorted and confused souls we sit, digitally watching from afar, trying to grapple with the suddenly juxtaposed emotions of helplessness and responsibility.

For thousands of years, mankind has cared only for those he could see, those he could provide for, or those he had direct contact with. Are our minds capable of understanding the sheer gravity of global depravity and ungoverned, natural tragedy? These victims are not part of my community. They are not one of my own. We might think, “if this were but a man who came to my door, a neighbor who needed taking in, I could do something.” But as fellow members of the human race, their pain resides in the collective subconscious of all who witness it. Whether McLuhan foresaw or understood the near unbearable weight of responsibility that comes with this act of global witnessing, I do not know. What I do know is that, a few times a year, we stare into the eyes of a refugee, a sick child, a displaced citizen, a victim, a person who has lost a son, a mother, their home, their livelihood, and we are called upon to respond.

If there is but one thing our primitive minds unceasingly ask and yet fail to grasp, it is the question of “Why?” Why did this happen? Why was this allowed? Why do people act this way? Why was I here instead of there? Why not me? We develop mythos. We try to explain. But stories and logic cannot free us from the cold, harsh grip of responsibility one feels when he asks these questions or the momentary guilt we feel when we turn down an opportunity to give. Christopher Hitchens, for all the things he might say that I would find disagreeable, recently said this of tragedy and response: “It isn’t my idea that these capricious catastrophes strike the just and the unjust with such regularity, or that they are soothingly explained away by the pseudo-compassionate. Of all the great cosmic questions, WTF still strikes me as one of the most pressing, relevant, and ultimately humane.”

It is coincidence that, a few weeks before this, I would write on laziness as a refusal to act with responsibility towards the well-being of those who bear responsibility for your own. In a recent conversation with a coworker, we discussed the nature of global responsibility. What requires me to act besides image-induced guilt and emotional response? I might submit, in harsh, reasonable fact, you bear no responsibility for those outside your immediate and tangible control. However, we do not look through the annals of human history to make note of those who did what was required of them, but we define as heroes those who did what was needed when Fate handed them a subpoena.

Bio: Josiah is a graduate of North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. His thirst for knowledge is only surpassed by his thirst for coffee. Thus, much free time is spent in the quest for the next fix.

Keep updated on (a couple of) your contributors!

Top 3Cast, created by contributor and friend, Tone Hoeft. It’s a new way for you to get your interesting input.

Top 3cast analyzes and discusses the most interesting and important news stories from the previous week. Join our rotating crew of panelists each week as they discuss their top 3 stories and why they think they are so important.

Click for more info and links to subscribe

My first contributing episode will enter syndication the Feb 1st, but check it out before then for more highlights and opinions from highly interesting people!

Bio: Tone Hoeft is pursuing his Master’s degree in Communications from Eastern Washington University. To learn more about him or his thoughts, visitwww.inproximity.org.


Bio: Josiah is a graduate of North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. His thirst for knowledge is only surpassed by his thirst for coffee. Thus, much free time is spent in the quest for the next fix.

– Harvard University’s “Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do?” series of videos (via Joshua Curtis Dorman)


The Moral Animal: Why We Are The Way We Are by Robert Wright | On Evolutionary Psychology as a scientific study and the development of psychological, natural ethics and morals in the human species

Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne | A rough explanation using modern developments in evolutionary theory to show the evidence for the simple yet powerful force of evolution. Recommended if you feel The Origin of Species would be too great of a dive for yourself.

Soon to read:

Evolution: From Creation to New Creation by Ted Peters and Martinez Hewlett | A theological engagement with evolutionary theory

How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker | On human cognition, emotion, and neurological action

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Please take these as recommendations. While the YouTube videos are obviously far more accessible, I offer the books as a library selection to look into.

Bio: Josiah is a graduate of North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. His thirst for knowledge is only surpassed by his thirst for coffee. Thus, much free time is spent in the quest for the next fix.

A/religious Discrimination Awareness

With the amount of atheist blogs I follow, I can’t help but be aware of the multiple ad campaigns going around right now for the areligious-reason groups. First there were bus campaigns in England with the following slogan:

Then came the billboards in America:

etc.

Then came the Christian vandalism of said atheist billboards:

along with many protests and lawsuits about the message on these billboards. This has resulted in some of them being taken down by the ad firms who give in to the sway of the protesters.

And I ask, how is this even Christian? How is this message hurting you and your belief? How is it that we cannot grasp that we live in a pluralist society where people are content with letting others have whatever faith they have?

The gospel was birthed in a pluralistic society, but Paul didn’t go around smashing the statues in Athens because they displayed heathen gods and “unknown” gods. He didn’t protest their existence. He simply proclaimed what “they knew as unknown,” and When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33At that, Paul left the Council. 34A few men became followers of Paul and believed.” Thus, the message of the gospel must be, in some way, stronger than the simple message of faith and belief the other religions of the day had. How did they convince a group of non-Jewish people to turn from their culture’s most popular religions to follow the way of a Jewish rabbi with simply the story of a man who rose from the dead?

In what way have we lost the true center of Christianity when we make it about what you believe rather than how that action is birthed in what you believe? There is no greater display of your personal theology than how you act towards other people. Faith is not intellectual acknowledgment of historical or even semi-historical events as having occurred. It is not in the belief of the existence of a God-man or in his resurrection and eventual return as a historical event. It is found where hope and belief cause us to behave in such a way that these things might be true. We hope they are true. Where this hope goes wrong is when Christians focus on what God dislikes rather than what God loves, and if we are to call ourselves Christians, we must acknowledge the love of God for everyone.

In what way have we lost the true center of Christianity when we suppress in fear the messages of other religions and a-religions? Is the gospel about being the only voice heard? And what message does suppression send to any person who is an atheist other than what they already believed: That Christians are self-centered bigots bent on world domination or condemnation through being the one voice heard?

In a nation whose first right is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Amazingly, free speech and free practice of religion are in the SAME sentence. Amazingly, this document was written by the very people conservative Christians hold high as banners of the True America and the “way it should be.”

If someone wishes to espouse their beliefs over a billboard, why protest? Christians would find it laughably ridiculous were Atheists to protest the advertisement of a church on a billboard. Besides, the South would become a barren wasteland of “YOUR MESSAGE HERE” billboards with the loss of religious advertising privileges. What would ever entertain me on road trips?

methumbBio: Josiah is a graduate of North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. His thirst for knowledge is only surpassed by his thirst for coffee. Thus, much free time is spent in the quest for the next fix.

What’s In a Name?

“The Phoenix Renovatio”: What’s it mean?

As of late I have had an obsession with the concept of the Phoenix, a mythological bird which, at the end of its life, sacrifices itself upon a funeral pyre in order that it might be reborn and resurrected from the ashes to begin its life anew.

“Renovatio” is the latin word for renewal and rebirth, so essentially this is referring to that process of rebirth which the Phoenix goes through.

“Wherever it is found, the phoenix is associated with resurrection, immortality, triumph over adversity, and that which rises out of the ashes. Thus it became a favorite symbol on early Christian tombstones.

In chapters 25-26 of his letter to the Corinthians, St. Clement, Bishop of Rome, upheld the legendary phoenix as an evidence of Christ’s ability to accomplish the resurrection of the faithful. He quotes Job as saying, ‘Thou shalt raise up this flesh of mine, which has suffered all these things.’

In numerous ways, the phoenix was found to be a symbol of Christ. In most countries, it was believed that only one phoenix lived at a time. It was born from itself without following the natural laws of reproduction. During the Middle Ages, it was believed to rise from the dead after three days.

Often, as an emblem of Christ, it was found with the palm tree (another symbol of resurrection) or carrying a palm branch (a symbol of triumph over death), or carrying an olive branch (a symbol of God’s peace offered to humans).” (Monstruous.com)

And so this is all somewhat a symbol of me, the phoenix as a follower of Christ being renewed through the death of my flesh and the resurrection of my new life. This is my journey. This is my rebirth. My renewal. My “renovatio”.