Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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.
- Romans 12:1-2
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
- Acts 4:23
“At ﬁrst glance, nothing seems to be more irrational than Marcuse’s claim that ‘that which is’ cannot be true, which appears in his 1941 book, Reason and Revolution. If that which is cannot be true, the reader is tempted to ask, then what is? But Marcuse’s idea is partly an attempt to overturn the claim made by the German philosopher Hegel that what is rational is actual, and also that what is actual is rational.
“Marcuse believes this is a dangerous idea because it leads us to think that what is actually the case such as our existing political system—is necessarily rational. He reminds us that those things we take as reasonable may be far more unreasonable than we like to admit. He also wants to shake us up into realizing the irrational nature of many of the things that we —take for granted.
“In particular, Marcuse is deeply uneasy with capitalist societies and with what he calls their ‘terrifying harmony of freedom and oppression, productivity and destruction, growth and regression.’ We assume that the societies we live in are based upon reason and justice, but when we look more closely, we may ﬁnd that they are neither as just nor as reasonable as we believe.
“Marcuse is not discounting reason, but trying to point out that reason is subversive, and that we can use it to call into question the society in which we live. The aim of philosophy, for Marcuse, is a ‘rationalist theory of society.’
“Fast cars are the kind of consumables that Marcuse accuses us of using to recognize ourselves; he says we ﬁnd ‘our soul’ in these items, becoming mere extensions of the things we create.”
- Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained
Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) is of the same Frankfurt School of critical theory as was Walter Benjamin, who was discussed last week. Like Benjamin, Marcuse was a Jew who followed Communist doctrine. Unlike Walter Benjamin, he emigrated to the United States in 1933. He had been working with Martin Heidegger, but Heidegger joined the Nazi Party and Marcuse knew there would be no professor position for him. He worked for the US government agency, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) which became the CIA after the war. He wrote about how the USSR had botched the concept of Communism and he is now known as the father of the New Left.
As for the title above, in one of the darkest times of my working career, I made friends with another engineer who had the title in a frame behind his desk. “Everything that you know is wrong.” I have no idea who quoted it first, but it was the name of a comedy LP by the Fireside Theatre in 1974. The four songs by that title and three books came out long after my friend’s framed “quotation.”
Although his “theology” is all wrong here, I offer the Weird Al Yankovic version.
Yet, the author of the book mentioned that Marcuse was not trying to destroy rationality, but we should not follow the hard line of Hegel. While Marcuse may have been looking at Nazism as not being rational, much of modern government, both left and right is not very rational today, maybe to the point of insanity – all to distance themselves from God. Governments throughout the globe have rejected God and are going it alone. In their delusion, they kill millions through abortion as a “choice” rather than calling it murder. If you feel misfit within society, you must be something other than a boy or girl. And absolutely, never go to God or the Bible for your answers. Is this rational? Does anyone think rational thought anymore?
But the Bible states that we should not conform to this world. The world was a different kind of crazy when Paul wrote those words, but the world was probably not nearly as opposed to rationality. When will the world quit following in the Emperor’s New Clothes vein (Hans Christian Andersen)? When will a child laugh and say that the world is naked, so that the world will snap out of its latest craze?
But rather than discuss this further, Marcuse points to various things as illustrations. He may have found the root cause. The root cause is not fast cars, but rather the enticements of the world.
As for fast cars, I bought a Datsun Z car when I graduated from college. It was a 260 Z, meaning 2.6 liter engine. They only made that model for half of a year. I had wanted the 240 Z, but I graduated too late and by the next model year, they were making the 280 Z, since the 260 Z did not give them the performance they desired. Nissan now sells the 300 Z as their performance vehicle.
But then I got married and how can you drive your family to church, once you have children, in a two-seater? When the speed limit is 55 miles per hour, as it was in those days, why have a vehicle that can go 200 miles per hour? And no, I once drove about 120 miles per hour on the beach road after midnight in Texas, but I slowed down when I saw a campfire on the beach. Safety first. I traded the car in after having it for a year and a half.
My wife asked that if we won the lottery, would I want a 300 Z? I told her that I could probably get into one, but I would need help getting out. That is the main reason that we have an SUV. They are higher off the ground.
There is a travel website advertisement that jokes about people who are obsessed with the latest model of gaming system, the latest cellphone, the biggest television, etc. Of course, their transition is that would we not have more regrets when our life has ended over the places that we did not go?
But isn’t places that we go just another means of knitting our souls into this world and forgetting that God’s judgment awaits in the next world? Oh, that’s right! Everything that I know is WRONG and God does not exist.
No, God exists. God wants us to worship Him, not accumulate stuff or use our free time and spend the money that we borrow to travel to exotic locations.
So, Marcuse may have had a point, sort of. The Scripture above from the book of Acts has been used by many to point to Jesus and the early church being Communistic, but the Communist Manifesto starts with abolishing religions as well as a rebellion against governments.
God is not the problem. Our problems have always stemmed from turning our backs to God.
But even in things that do not seem to relate to faith, can we believe what the world is saying? Veterinarians, maybe not all, have said that it is cruel and inhumane to have dogs live outside, when they need air conditioning to survive. But a little over one hundred years ago (1902), those dogs’ ancestors thrived without air conditioning as did humans because there was no air conditioning.
So, is everything related to this world Wrong? Maybe the Apostle Paul said it best in the book of Romans. “… and everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b).
So, maybe Weird Al Yankovic has it right, except that once we go to Heaven and we are separated from the brokenness of this world, everything will be right, the reality of things as well as our knowledge of those things.
If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
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