Trading Youth For Experience, That Is Life

We all do it. We all trade youth for experience, and through trial, error and temporary failure, we ultimately succeed or die with regret wishing that we had succeeded. We are consciousness and energy though, so there is always a chance even if that energy changes into something else. Originally, I was going to write this article as a simple treatise on winning and losing, but it is turning into something else entirely.

As the best of us and the worst of us has time pass on us in a forward motion, there is nothing inevitable with change as a sole exception and more change and time always moving forward, even if we “could successfully go back to the past”, we really cannot, because we have experience reality from a different energy point.

So, no matter what, we trade innocence for experience and youth for understanding, and however much we “want to go home again, we cannot”.

For example: My Mom had this experience where she went back to where she grew up in Chicago, Illinois quite a few years back when my Grandmother was alive and realized this fact while standing in the yard at the home of my Grandmother. It was at this point when she was telling the story that I understood this fact fully without illusions: We all trade in our innocence for experience and understanding, we can either go ahead and succeed or miserably wish for our innocence back.

Reality comes down to winning or losing anyhow. The best winners use their failures as experience. While the worst losers try to get “lucky” or fortunate without the experience acknowledged or the work behind it all.

Everybody, seemingly, would love to win in a lucky way without much effort, understanding or work, would they not? But repeated winning in a desirable way with effort, understanding and work is much better. After all, the approximation of winning without effort, understanding or work is like a drug addict trying to achieve that first high again they experienced when they started using drugs. It never happens quite the same. So, I will rephrase that first part about “we all do it”: The best of us trade innocence for experience to repeatedly win. After all, my Father had a story about “the man who wished in one hand and went to the bathroom on the other hand, and which hand got filled first.” That brings me to my point: We must trade inexperience for understanding to really win.

My name is Joshua Clayton, I am a freelance writer based in Inglewood, California. I also write under a few pen-names and aliases, but Joshua Clayton is my real name, and I write by that for the most part now. I am a philosophical writer and objective thinker and honest action taker. I also work at a senior center in Gardena, California as my day job, among other things, but primarily I am a writer.

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What Is Theology? Demystifying A Scary Practice

Theology can seem like a scary word to some people. For some, this word evokes images of large libraries and stuffy book lovers sitting on the library floor reading huge volumes of work by the like Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics or H. Orton Wiley’s three-volume Systematic Theology. For others, you picture a university or seminary where professional pastors and future professors go, but come back to your local church with bigger words and ideas than you can account for on your child’s language arts homework. And still for some, the idea of some professor sitting in an ivory tower writing and scheming up some new and novel idea just trying to make your life miserable that is surely unbiblical. Surely, it’s not something for the inexperienced or young Christian, and there is no way a common person who has been in the faith a while, like you, could ever grasp or understand it, you barely get by on Sunday with the sermon and your devotions that don’t always register. For many of you I’m sure you are just confused when it comes to this subject, I’ve probably met someone just like you too in a similar boat, and just wondering what is theology to begin with. It’s a good question to ask. The fact that you even ask it demonstrates that you take seriously your relationship with God, because this word and it’s many subject areas do come up in ways we are not always aware of. So, let’s go on a journey and hopefully get you some clarity on the matter.

“Theology” is a term that has been used since the 3rd century to mean “talking about God” or the “science of God.” In and of itself, theology gets at the nature and relationship people have with God and what the word “god” means to people. After all, “God” means different things to different people and to different religious traditions. To the Muslim it is speaking about Allah and the teachings of the Quran and the four other holy books of their Islamic faith. To the Jew it is Jehovah/YHWH and the keeping of the Law. Both monotheistic traditions believe in one “God,” but what they believe about that “God” is vastly different from Christians. For polytheistic (many god) traditions it could mean doing something for one god to avoid the wrath of another. For the Deist, it could just be simply about finding general truths in all traditions and living a moral life and going to heaven. Everyone believes different things and that essentially is what theology is and aims to discuss. It is discussion about God or gods and the relationship that exists between us and them and us with others.

What Makes Theology Christian?

Christian theology is talking about God in Christian ways. Christians, think about their faith. Christian faith is about both a matter of reflection and an outcome of that reflection. It looks at why we do the things we do and why. It considers why Protestants uphold an importance of the Scripture and Catholics look at both Scripture and Tradition. To answer the question then of what makes theology Christian, it all comes down to what we believe. One such example of this in practice is the various beliefs about the Church itself.

For some people the Christian Church should only be a body of believers, while for others they believe it should be a mixed group. There are certainly other ideas out there also on the matter. Christian theology however forces us to think in an orderly manner about the fundamental ideas of our Christian faith. Theology is, at least to great extent, intellectual reflection on the act, content, and implications of Christian faith. It is used to sometimes help communicate an understanding of certain elements of our Christian faith asking things such as:

• Where did these different approaches come from?
• What are the merits of such an approach?
• What impact or difference is made to the business of Christian living?

Committed Ideas of Theology

Christian theology is about trying to understand why the Christian Church is committed to ideas that seem complicated and, at times, a little implausible. When we look at the question of what is theology, we might consider such difficult concepts about the relationship of Jesus Christ humanity and divinity. Christians affirm that Jesus is both 100% human and 100% divine, but some might ask why say this when it is simpler to say that Jesus is truly human. Another example is the matter of the Trinity. Why is God a Trinity, when it just seems easier to believe in God? Theology answers these challenges and gives voice to not only what we believe, but why we believe it.

Does Theology Just Make Faith Unnecessarily Complicated?

When answering the question of “what is theology” it is not uncommon to hear a question about theology making faith unnecessarily complicated. And, I believe that concern is justified, but to an extent. I often find it helpful to remember what Anselm of Canterbury said on the matter of theology, and that it is “faith seeking understanding.”

As I said in sections above, Christianity thinks about its faith. We make various claims about God and what we are taught and read about God and the relationship we have with God. However, we are also people who are curious and have questions, sometimes questions about divorce and remarriage or infant baptism. In essence we say and profess one thing, but now we answer the why aspect of it. It would seem simple to just say well the Bible says xyz about divorce, but what about sexual or emotional abuse that leads one to exit a marriage? Are they biblically justified in leaving that marriage? The answer on this matter gets a bit more complicated, because now contextual elements are needed not just from the Bible’s teaching about marriage and divorce, but it’s teachings on violence and the duty of care spouses have to the marriage and how those cultures in which the biblical authors write approaches and experienced things. At times, you need to look at historical Christian and other writings of that time to learn what was going on and then approach the matter from an informed opinion with a set or reasons and recommendations. This is putting theology into practice, it’s an area called Biblical Theology and that gets involved with matters of hermeneutics and exegesis and other elements of biblical literature and study.

Another consideration in answering the matter of this being complicated is that Christians do encounter non-Christians. Sometimes non-Christians are interested in the Christian faith and knowing more about it. Perhaps they are curious or not certain about what they believe. Perhaps their parents never emphasized the importance of religion growing up and they feel like they are missing out. Or perhaps you are in a college course debating atheism. Simply stating that “because the Bible says so” isn’t going to fly in these situations. In fact, for the curious or agnostic they may simply think and believe that Christians worship a book rather than an all-powerful God who actually existed. They would need some background on why the Bible is important and not merely a book or moral teachings and sayings. Theology offers people in these situations an explanation of Christian faith and it helps people understand why Christians differ on certain points of importance such as baptism by immersion or by sprinkling.

Perhaps the most compelling reason as to the importance of theology and to do it even if it seems complicated is the discipleship of the mind. Theology is the discipleship of the mind. Deut. 6:1-24 and Matthew 22:37 both address the importance of our belief in God and living obediently, which happens to include loving God and others with all our being. The Apostle Paul makes an appeal to us in Romans 12:1-2 about the importance of the renewal and transformation of our mind onto the things of God so we might worship God properly and follow God’s will. When we engage in theology in the contemplation of the act and being of our faith we are getting a look at the inner dynamic of a life of faith and its desire to understand what is believed.

Other Benefits of Theology

Of course, there are other aspects of engaging in theology for the everyday Christian. One such example is that it gives you a deeper person enrichment and appreciation of one’s faith. Perhaps the most exciting thing about Christian gatherings and time I’ve spent with other members of the family of God is in celebration and contemplation of ideas for engaging others for the sake of the Kingdom of God. We read and study the Scripture and other Christian writings or videos for ideas and insights to help that process along and answering challenges. That is an engagement of theology.

Another benefit is that there tends to be a sort of excitement that comes when one wrestles with God. Augustine once exclaimed this very idea in saying that theology was and eros of the mind. Anyone familiar with Greek and the words for “love” or even familiar with human intimacy, will know that this is where the term erotic comes from. Theology is an erotic sensation that engages us with our Creator. It is “a sense of longing to understand more about God’s nature and ways.”

And lastly, the most important benefit of theology which I can think of is that it has a transformative impact on people’s lives. This happens not just to us personally as we learn and grow, but it also is foundational to why we do things. It’s at the core of Christian outreach and social services that are conducted in certain manners. It is why the many food banks out there are sponsored and ran by Churches and Christian organizations. It’s about saying that there is a God who loves others and calls us to be His hands and feet in a hurting and lost world.

Closing Thoughts

I hope you’ve come to understand that answering “what is theology” is an important thing to wrestle with. Having this understanding is foundational before we even try to engage any other issue or speak on any other issue. We should be clear not only what we believe, but why we believe it. It’s not about trying to change what the Bible says or come up with some new doctrine, but it is about engaging that biblical text and giving an account for what we believe. I’m excited to see what the future of God’s Church will be and I hope that this will encourage you and help you to engage your faith at a deeper level as you growth in wisdom and stature and in favor with God your fellow man. If you got questions or are just curious I would encourage you to leave a comment. God Bless and talk soon.

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The Scotsman

In the years following the fall of Camelot the continued struggle to unite England waged on. To the north in Scotland warring factions of Vikings continued their brutal and savage pillaging of local inhabitants. For over three hundred years up until the 9th century both England and Scotland were so divided wars and bloodshed was a fact of life. So little time for peace and prosperity and what little there was of both swiftly came to a violent and savage end. Out of this period rode a man who would change the landscape of England and Scotland. Silas Moore a Saxon noble whose own linage can be traced to the court of Charlemagne arrived in Southern England at a time when the English Saxons were constantly being threatened by Danish invaders from the East.

Silas a tall fair skinned man with flowing reddish hair, bearing a scar across his left cheek knew the ways of war as very few men of his time knew. From the time he was born in 850 AD Silas was groomed for combat. By the age of 10 he already was an excellent marksman and at full gallop could shoot an arrow straight through a standing target. When he turned 19 he was in the court and at the right side of Charles King of Aquitane because of his bravely in fighting the invading Vikings. When Charles died in 877 Silas took leave and headed across the channel. After all he was very well suited to serve Alfred the Great in a time when they both needed each other.

In 877 with his loyal followers he and his men made their way to Wessex. With the Danish invading all along the east coast of Britain it was Silas that eventually came to the aid of the new Saxon King. For the next 9 years Silas and his men fought the Vikings. Battle after battle the savagery only continued. Where ever Silas went he was met by invading Norsemen. By 885 Silas Moore that noble Saxon who single handily defeated many of the Vikings attacks now aligned himself with Alfred The Great. It was Silas after all that secured Alfred The Great’s future success in defeating the Dames at the Battle of Ashdowners. In doing so Silas Moore earned his place at the side of Alfred the Great. It had been almost ten long years since Silas was again at the service of a King. Although the victory at Ashcowners was short lived for the next two years the Danes continued to wage war. Soon the battles reached Alfred’s court in Wessex and it was Silas who convinced Alfred retreat to the marches that surrounded the town. Silas then used his military training to usher in tactics that have become known as Guerrilla warfare. With Silas’s help Alfred finally defeated the invading Danes.

It was Silas whose own military skill that helped secure the last remaining independent Saxon stronghold in Wessex England. By 886 with the aid of Silas Alfred forged a treaty with the Danes leaving a divided England. The North and East of England between the Thames and the Tess rivers was to be Danish territory while Alfred gained control to the West and South. Now that peace had finally been achieved Silas turned his attention to the North, Scotland awaits. With his band of brothers ever so loyal to Silas they made their way into the highlands of Scotland. It was at this time the Vikings landed in the Orkneys and Northern Scotland. This was around 888 A.D. under their chief, Stirgud the Stout. When Silas reached the Roman Antonine Wall he was greeted by Hugh McGreggor. The McGreggors’ were the military arm of Donald II.

It was some 400 years earlier that the Romans in their attempt to conquer Scotland built the Antoine wall in the center of Scotland in a vain attempt to contain the northern tribes of Picts and Celts. After the Romans left and for the next 400 years Scotland continued to be brutally and savagely attacked by invading Norsemen. By 887 the Norsemen were only continuing their attacks. The savagery of the Vikings was only matched by the brutality of the McGreggor’s and even Silas. In the fall of 887 it was up to the McGreggors to come from the east and his band of fighters to try again to stop the Vikings. But, when Hugh McGreggor met up with the arriving Silas he now knew that the two combined forces could mount a counter offensive in driving the marauding Vikings back into the North Sea.

The mission to unite Scotland and drive the Vikings back across the North Sea seemed realistic now that Silas and his men arrived. It was just like old times when Silas arrived in Scotland. For it was just a few years ago Silas arrived in the nick of time to help Alfred The Great. When the Vikings attacked and destroyed the village of Dumbarton Silas and Hugh McGreggor mounted the counter offensive that would seal the fate of Scotland. With stealth and cunning Silas and his men managed to trick the Vikings into thinking that the McGreggors were going to attack from the North when they were actually going to sneak up from the south in the cover of darkness.

On the night of October 13th the McGreggor’s men slowly moved in while Silas came from the West. With his band of men they inched closer to the Viking encampment with their horses in tow. Just when they say the flames of their fires they quickly mounted and charged into the slumbering Viking camp. Riding tall in his saddle with Broad Sword in hand red hair flowing Silas was the first to swoop down severing the heads of Vikings as he and his men galloped on through the now awakening Vikings. Soon panic spread and blood spilled covering the ground red. The McGreggor’s army galloping through the encampment using bows and arrows, swords and spears as they managed a bloody and savage retaliation upon the Norsemen. One by one the Vikings fell. The battle was over in less the three hours. Stirgud the Stout was captured when he fell of his horse just as Silas was about to strike.

The captured Viking chief was begging for his freedom promising never to return if he was let free. Upon their return to Dumbarton Castle where Hugh knew King Donald was held captive it was Silas that negotiated an exchange for their chief if the rest of the Vikings relinquish their hold of the Castle and release Donald II. In this exchange Silas would grant the remaining Norseman safe passage back to the east coast where they were free to sail back across the north sea. The exchange was met and on a dark late October day both Stirgud and King Donald II were set free.

This peace though came at a high price thousands of Vikings lay dead in the Highlands just a few miles from Dumbarton Castle and too many Scott’s gave their lives in defense of their homeland. As for Silas the bloody years of fighting took its toll. As he watched the last Viking ship set sail the sun had already set on the life and times of one of histories long forgotten knights in a time known as the Dark Ages.

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