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May 27, 2005

The Anti-Purpose-Driven Life: SoMA’s New Series of Essays

Psycho/SOMAtic Steve on June 18, 2005 07:56 PM EST writes:
as long as there's a plan, I'm not responsible

I've $.02 to pitch in. Reading about Mr. Warren angers me, since his discourse fits so conveniently with the toxic combination of self-righteousness and hypocrisy that's poisoning spirituality these days. Talk about God's master plans seems to be the reserve of those keen on passing responsibility for their actions--or inaction--on to an 'ultimate' scapegoat. Is that how one's relationship to God is to be defined? The buck finally stops with Him? At least Son of Sam only shifted the blame to his dog... maybe he'd have gotten off more easily if he'd ranted about God the way our sports figures, Wall Street thieves and their politicians do.
Scapegoating the Supreme Being--and de-responsibilizing ourselves in the process--takes the urgent problems of finding justice and grounding ethical action right out of the picture. These are complicated problems that require open debate, but we'll never get it if people like Rick Warren keep telling us there's a holy roadmap coming down from on high.
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John D. Spalding on June 17, 2005 11:42 AM EST writes:
(cont.) And if God plans the days we're born and die, then God certainly planned the day those muderer victims would die, and presumably how. From the victims' persepective, getting murdered as they did might seem arbitrary. Not to Warren: "there are no accidents in life."... If, as Warren says, God plans for you to live in, say, Ohio, what happens if you move to Calif.? Your entire life--the people you meet, the decisions you make--will be outside God's plan. Or does God's preordained plan somehow change according to our decisions? By definition that's not possible...Finally, let's assume God's plan for the murder suspect wasn't to minister in prison, but was to, say, design golf courses. What good is God's plan for the guy now? I doubt it was this stark question that cooled the man down in the aftermath of the murders... I'm curious what you or anyone else makes of those passages I quoted, Amy. Thanks for visiting SoMA!
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John D. Spalding on June 17, 2005 11:25 AM EST writes:
Thanks for your comments, Amy and Paul. Amy: you make the very good distinction between a divine plan and a divine purpose. But here's what Warren says: "Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your life in advance choosing the exact time of your birth and death...God also planned where you'd be born and where you'd live for his purpose. Your race and nationality are no accident. God left no detail to chance. He planned it all for his purpose...he planned it all with great precision...Nothing in your life is arbitrary. It's all for a purpose." Sounds like a plan to me. Now, I'm sure Warren would say we can choose NOT to follow God's plan. But back to the Atlanta murder suspect. He was comforted by the thought that perhaps God's plan was for him to minister in prison. Wouldn't this mean God also planned, intended, or at least knew about the crime that would land him in jail? (cont. next post)
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Amy on June 17, 2005 06:44 AM EST writes:
divine plan not the same as divine purpose

The advent of this new book is quite interesting. I look forward to reading it.

However, having read "The Purpose-Driven Life", I don't think it means that everything is within God's purpose--every detail of human history, including the murder rampage. I understand the book to mean that there is an overarching purpose to life, which we can choose to embrace or not.

So it seems to me a combination of destiny (purpose) and choice (free will) equals life. It's neither simply one or the other.
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Rod on June 10, 2005 10:16 AM EST writes:
The Popularity of Purpose

When I first became "saved" (such a loaded term), I was introduced to this concept of purpose and destiny. For me it was important confirmation that God does indeed have a rationale for putting us here other than he simply needs people to worship and serve him, making him out to be some kind of ego-maniac. From the Christian perspective we are created to worship, but the way in which we emulate Christ and impact the world for the good is one of the best ways to worship God.

Evangelical churches across America; black, white, and other have made Rick Warren's books required reading for their members. For those who have never considered this concept of purpose in a Christian context, they have some value. For me, I was completely bored and never made it past Chapter 3.

www.rodgarvin.blogspot.com
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Paul M. Martin on June 1, 2005 01:51 PM EST writes:
divine plan

That seems to be one of the most "fundamental" tenets of fundamentalists: The Plan. I've sometimes wondered what holds the whole thing together - the pro-baby/prenatal life, homophobia, preoccupation with personal salvation/damnation, etc.

I've never been able to figure the underlying theme. In any case, it's certainly definite. It provides structure and an air of certainty. Maybe that's the basic "purpose?"
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