Saturday, December 09, 2006

How Noam Chomsky Helped Save My Spiritual Life

How Noam Chomsky Saved My Spiritual Life

I have been meaning to write about how Dr. Chomsky's body of work helped the scales to fall off of my eyes and thereby corrected my image and understanding of the "World" in the Biblical use of the word.
I have been reluctant to do this. I have been reluctant because I have taken a fair amount of heat for quoting him or using his philosophical constructs. I.E. I have allowed myself to be intimidated. In an effort to be as non-confrontational and as politically correct as my conscience would allow- I have not given his work the credit that I will now acknowledge.
When I first discovered Chomsky- I began to use some tidbits of his analyses in my writings. In turn, I was chided for being un-patriotic or un-Christian, as if patriotism and Christianity are inexorably linked.
I do not believe they are linked at all- and a review of this entire blog will reveal some pretty comprehensive arguments as to why I do not believe they are supposed to be linked.

I was once encouraged to "Put down the Chomsky and pick up the Bible". It is my understanding that a directive like that stems from two places. First there is the fact that Chomsky is not a Christian, and in fact has some harsh things to say about Christianity as it has blended itself with certain ideological philosophies. Secondly, there is a popular notion that when one criticiizes governments and/or the foreign policy of governments, particularly the U.S., they are by extension actually criticizing God, because God has "ordained" governments, particularly the U.S., and thus his arguments are anti-american, anti-rational and hence anti-God or anti- spiritual at the least.

I would endeavor to squelch such ideas at the root. Not to defend Chomsky in particular, but to put down the notions that because govenments are in power that they have the favor of God, that governments should be protected from criticism by wrapping themselves in a kind of quasi-religious nationalism, that America is the "Arm of the Lord", that Christanity is best represented by right leaning political value systems, that Christianity is best represented by liberal leaning political value systems either, that there are two (right and left) ways to interpret history, politics, religion, truth etc.

The Bible speaks quite often about "Worldly" value systems and how they contradict God's intentions. Here are some verses that are pointing to the principle I am getting at as well- distinction between God's people and and the "World".

Do Not Love the World:

15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

James 4:4
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

John 15:19
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

John 17:14
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

John 17:16
They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

John 17:25
"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.

John 18:36
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

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?

1 Corinthians 1:27
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

1 Corinthians 2:12
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

Galatians 6:14
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Colossians 2:8
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Colossians 2:20
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules?

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

1 John 2:17
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 4:5
They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.

1 John 5:19
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

1 Peter 2:11
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

I think it is safe to say that the U.S. is part of the "World" as defined by the Bible and has a value system that is commensurate with such. I find it funny that the folks who would typically defend criticism of the U.S. would also quote the Bible in defending her and also at the same time be the same folks that are highly critical when more "liberal" forces are in if God did not establish or "ordain" them as well. It makes no sense. I have written about this at length and a good online debate in this can be found HERE

Anyhow, reading, watching and listening to Chomsky has helped me tear through the conception that if I was not morally comfortable with the activities and positions of my government- then there was something wrong with me. In my view, Chomsky's statements on the concept of universality sum it all up quite nicely,

"The most elementary (moral principle) is a virtual truism: decent people apply to themselves the same standards that they apply to others, if not more stringent ones."

I believe that ultimately his views are truly conservative, spiritual and in fact are much closer to the understanding of the "World" found in the teachings of Jesus than the jingoism and comfort with political power and dominance that hold sway in the arena of popular opinion today. Chomsky's thoughts have helped bring me much closer to God. This non-Christain has opened up my life and my understanding of my life in a way that no other Christian thinker's offerings have ever been able to. I reckon that to be a good reason and motivation to start writing and speaking out in itself.

Chomsky says,

"The most elementary (moral principle) is a virtual truism: decent people apply to themselves the same standards that they apply to others, if not more stringent ones."

The Bible says,
Matt.7:1; "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Some would turn this passage around and use it to refute the positions Dr. Chomsky lays out- or any judgement that they don't like for that matter...However, Chomsky also asserts,

"(1) Facts matter, even if we do not like them.

(2) Elementary moral principles matter, even if they have consequences that we would prefer not to face."

1 comment:

Starrider said...

Then of course there is the "Golden Rule"...."do unto others as you would have them do unto you."