When friends and family members converse with one another, what do they reveal about themselves?
I think that when we speak with those closest to us, we reveal what is most important. We tend to lose the “public persona” and speak of things which are really in our hearts. We are more “ourselves.”
What does God reveal of Himself to us in treating us as friends and family members?
God is saying that He wants us to know Him intimately, as He is. He wants to share His life with us.
How does God’s Revelation give meaning to our lives?
What a question! Seriously, how does one go about answering this?! 🙂 Here’s a stab, anyway: I think that by the mere fact that God has chosen to reveal Himself to us that He wants us to be in an intimate relationship with Him. He doesn’t want to be uninvolved. He wants for us to be in communion with Him. The whole point of our lives is supposed to be that we end up sharing in His divine Life forever in Heaven, right? So, I guess that a simple way to put it would be for God to say to us, “I am the meaning in your life.”
What is meant when we say that we have a “revealed” religion?
It means that our religion is not something which is known entirely naturally or intuitively, but via a self-communication of one person to another (or multiple others). Because God is not a “thing” or a “concept,” but a person; and while you can know things about a person from an external observation, you can never truly know a person unless she or he decides to share herself or himself with you. And this is what God has done. He has made Himself known.
What are positive features in our culture?
I think our collective drive for self-improvement is a good thing. I think we often are misguided as to what is important, but the fact that we are looking to make ourselves into better versions of ourselves is a good thing to seek after. The way that we question things and test things to see if they are good is a positive action. The more that we continue to think critically and engage each other in the pursuit of truth — even if we don’t agree, so long as it is done in charity — is both present in society and becoming less appreciated, in favor of emotional reactions (“This makes me happy/mad/sad.”) or sound bytes that we can hear for 15 seconds on the radio or iPod or headlines which we can get from a news feed.
I think that the things we think we stand for are great: integrity, charity, humanitarian aid, a positive moral example to the world, innovation, creativity, a willingness to be a participant in the global community… We just need a little help living the way we envision. Back to critical thinking and integrity.
How can culture be converted and transformed by the Gospel?
If we truly try to live as disciples of Christ, there’s no question that society would change. Can you imagine what your street, your workplace, your city would look like if everyone acted in every instance so as to serve the interests of the people they meet? If our thought when we see another person is, “How can I help him? How can I make her day a little better?” What if we let the mother with the screaming infant go ahead of us in line at the grocery store, even if she had a huge cart of groceries? What if we bought coffee for the stranger standing behind us in line at Starbucks? What if we raked our neighbor’s yard as well as our own? What if we acted so as to say to all people, “It is good that you exist”?
What would help you to spend more time reading and praying over God’s revealed word in Scripture?
Sometimes it is difficult to start, because you don’t know where to start. Reading straight through from cover to cover is rarely a good way to go. I’ve found that Bible studies are great, because they hold you accountable for reading a certain passage and perhaps answering questions before the next meeting. But what to do when you are not in a Bible study? Plus, usually Bible studies are only once a week or so. What about the other days of the week? A reading plan might help. There are several available as apps on your phone or online that can help you track your progress.
Another thing I have found to be helpful is to have the Bible available to you in multiple different formats. I have several Bibles in my house, but I also have it on my Kindle, my phone, my desktop and my laptop. I even have the Bible on CD for my car, and on my iPod.
Just knowing that Scripture is inspired can help, too. Inspired means “God-breathed,” and this means that when you are reading Scripture, God is speaking personally, to you, through that text. It is not just for people who lived in that day, but has meaning for you right now. And it is not static. What it means to you today, and the way that God is communicating with you through His Word today is not the meaning or the communication that you will have tomorrow or next month. So, you can’t get away with saying that you’ve read that already or that you know how the story goes.
Ultimately, it has to be a commitment on my part, to want to read His Word. To understand its value and to want to have it transform my life. Because it will.
Why can we say that growth in our faith will strengthen us to affect public policy with our beliefs?
I think that faith helps us to grow in virtue, and one of the virtues that we can grow in is integrity. The more we seek after truth and the more that we choose to live lives of integrity, the more that we will fight for what is truly good. We will not be as willing to ignore the evils that we see around us. We will want to change things to benefit not just ourselves, but our communities. We will want others to grow in virtue as well and will want to foster communities which help people grow in virtue.
What is virtue anyway? I think some people think that to want a virtuous society, we are asking for a society where everyone tries to force others into seeing the world as they do. To “force” their religion upon others. This is neither virtuous, wise, or the way the Christ acted. I think our idea of a hero or a superhero is more in line with what it means to live a virtuous life. Idealistic, perhaps, but it gives concreteness to the concept. People probably wouldn’t think twice about rolling their eyes and sighing if they see someone holding up the line at the security checkpoint, searching for their ID and boarding pass when they had the whole time in line to get ready. But if we watch a movie and see Superman displaying this irritation, then we know that there’s something wrong. Superman wouldn’t normally act that way.
My two cents, anyway. Feel free to chime in and answer the questions with me! See you for Chapter 3! 🙂