Monday, May 08, 2006

Elvis' struggles with God & other issues....

A few weeks ago Mama Mia blogged on Elvis Presley's spiritual side; that in large part inspired me to dig into my CD archives for an interesting presentation made on the legendary singer by Dr. Ravi Zacharias, one of the leading apologists in contemporary Christianity. Mama Mia has since had the opportunity to listen to the CD and should therefore be in a position to give you her own assesment of the content. But Dr. Zacharia's presentation does, in large part, remind me of the woeful tales of countless men and women of reknown who, down the ages, have in their later years or on deathbeds been confronted by the reality and supremacy of a Holy God they had denied all along at the height of their power, wisdom or other forms of accomplishment and, sometimes, even pain. In the MYSTERY OF EVIL AND THE MIRACLE OF LIFE, Dr. Zacharias (I'm quoting the CD jacket here) "examines how the Gospel comes in contradiction to our existential struggles - struggles of human wickedness and the hunger for something greater than this world. He traces the origin of evil and particularly the lure of sin placed before Adam and Eve when Satan made God's truth suspect....(he) examines our hunger for fulfillment of needs that God alone is big enough to fill and offers a challenge to surrender the human will to God's control." In excellent, well-polished arguments, Dr. Zacharias puts forth his case......here are some excerpts...be sure to get yourself a copy of the hour-long CD.....that way or by contacting his office. - "All human beings, whether studied or unstudied in philosophy, ultimately look for their lives to conform to reality as they understand it whether it is right or wrong. If they know that fire burns, they will avoid putting their hand there unless they are purely....suicidal. They want their lives and bodies to correspond to that which is real so that even if they don't use logic or reason, they want their lives to be consistent with reality." - "The reason there is a breakdown (in society) is not even so much that rational strength and the ability to think has been abandoned but our lives are beaking down because we don't understand what reality is all about...what I would like to show you is where this breakdown is coming in and how the Gospel is then coming in contradiction to the world of existentialist struggles...I think you'll find it extremely meaningful." - He then devotes some good amount of time to German philosopher F. Nietzsche and Irish literary icon Oscar Wilde, two very significant atheistic figures that died in 1900, though he is lots more detailed on the latter. You would have to listen to him so as to feel the passion, candour, intensity and wit with which he dissects Wilde the literary genius and debauched gay playboy. He does a critique of Wilde's well known novel - The Picture of Dorian Gray - and notes: "In his (own) life, he denuded the body, but in his novel.....he bared, I think, his soul." - He then quotes some dissilusioned scholars who, despairing at the frustrations emerging from the weaknesses of secularism, are now suggesting that "the world desperately needs a noble lie" so as to survive its troubles. He quotes one of them as saying "modern culture urgently needs a noble lie....a myth that links the moral teachings of religion with the scientific facts of life. Science has eroded the plausibility of the Judeo-Christian myths...including archaic views of the universe, a presumption that humans are at the center of existence, and the stories of Jesus' ressurection and Moses bringing the 10 commandments from the mountain...these are pure myths." Dr. Zacharias then goes on: "This tells you the unabashed seduction of secular thought knows having abandoned reason, existential life becomes unliveable....how are they going to solve the dillemma...dispel the myths of religion and all you are left with is despair which considers life in the universe meaningless." - Having said that, he then delves into what he considers to be the four struggles of existentialism (here is a general summary). a). The mystery of human wickedness: What does evil really mean? He argues that evil means you and I can define reality apart from God; that's the lie we have been tempted to live by (as Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden). They chose to make God a liar. Evil is the natural outworking of a lie; "it's as simple as that but also catastrophic." b). The marvel of humanity's hunger for worship: There's a deep longing within each one of us; there's a beyond in us that goes beyond the scope of romantic love, the stars, etc. There's a haunting sense of emptiness which no human or anything else can satisfy. It is at this point that Dr. Zacharias recalls a conversation he says he once had with one of the people related to Elvis Presley following the singer's death from a supposed addiction to prescription drugs, leaving his family distraught and the world of teenagers shaken that its icon had died. What was it that drove the man? The Elvis buddy is then quoted as saying: "All I know is that with all the women he had screaming for him and all the fame he had before him, (Elvis) was an extremely lonely man. He said that he cried with loneliness...the song that I believe he meant more deeply than any other but a song that he could not appropriateas as far as the outworld world knew is one I saw him singing in Las Vegas before a crowd of gamblers and drinking people....when he told them I want to sing to you you a song that deeply moves me....and he sang How Great Thou Art...and his audience was in spell-bound silence...many times when I bid him goodnight as I was the last one to leave him every night...he would be at the piano singing hymns. He really hungered for something greater than the world was giving him." Dr. Zacharias then proceeds, using Psalms 42:1-11 as a basis, to argue that "the hunger that even the blatant secularist has he cannot explain....it conflicts existentially and God fills it." c). The mastery of the human will - He argues that's where the collision really takes place. He gives two excellent illustrations of media mogul Ted Turner and Alexander the Great for a point to which you just need to listen so as to understand. Of the latter, he says that "the problem with Alexander the Great is that he was his own worst rival." d). The miracle of existence itself - He begins to wind up his presentation by quoting an atheist who has said that "the greatest gift in our generation to our children and posterity is that we have released them (our kids) from the fear of the supernatural." Dr. Zacharias then bemoans what he says is the overestimation of the power of miracles by Christians and the underestimation of the same by skeptics. He says: "Our hearts have determined to stay course in those paths....but there's a miracle the world is still looking for....not just an answer to origins but something that will change the enslavement within. The truth is true objectively, though appropriated subjectively. God's truth is the one we all yearn for from the deepest of our insides." He then winds it up by saying: "In this existential struggle, God's word is true. Let's do this generation a favour by defending this because the word of God conforms to reality and our lives must conform to reality too. May God bless you and I trust His word will become true in your life. If you don't know Him, I hope you'll find His definition of reality; if you know Him let's live for the truth. God bless you."

10 Comments:

Blogger UARIDI said...

It is interesting that no matter how much human beings achieve they still hunger for God.

5/08/2006 09:14:00 pm  
Anonymous mama mia said...

Nice post!

hmmm... I wish I could think of something profound to say, but I'm running on empty :)

Ravi's treatment of the subject was thorough and persuasive. I was especially moved by the fact that even a well-heeled, much-worshiped icon such as Elvis was brought to his knees as he contemplated God.

Ravi's messages are definitely worth a listen. I've been working through his online archives. Excellent apologist.

5/09/2006 08:25:00 pm  
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