Wessel's blog

All the World Is a Stage: Improv and the Christian Worldview

Actors on stage
Read time: 9 minutes

About a year ago I did an introductory improv acting course. I had already been exposed to improv acting through local shows and a work-sponsored social by a local improv company, and it had struck me as something which can be fun to pursue. It certainly was outside of my comfort zone. I was not alone: most—if not all—of my fellow classmates, including professional actresses, had to get use to a very different kind of thinking and expressing ourselves. But our competent teachers eased us into this new experience. What I subsequently learned was that improv acting was both easier and more difficult than I had thought it would be. And at the heart of the difficulty also is a hallmark of the Christian worldview. [node:read-more:link]

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Who Do You Say That I Am: The Question of God's Identity

Torah Scroll
Read time: 8 minutes

For thousands of years, philosophers struggled with a particularly abstract, but very important, problem: how can we know what we know? This is called epistemology. Most of us probably don't think about this, but rather take it as obvious or self-evident. But spending a little bit of time on this question quickly reveals its significance. While there were sceptics before him, this kind of thinking led Descartes to a methodological scepticism until he reached a point where he felt that he could not know anything. Descartes resolved this problem for himself with his famous "I think, therefore I am", but even today people struggle with what they know, how they can know, and what they can know. [node:read-more:link]

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Who Do You Say You Are: A Question of (Self) Identity

Woman in thought
Read time: 9 minutes

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for me to do is to respond to someone who asks "tell me about yourself". That is a broad question. Where does one start? There are so many thoughts, feelings, experiences and ambitions which one has accrued over one's life that it is difficult to distil it into something which won't come across as long-winded or narcissistic.

Tied up in this request is a question about identity: who are you? [node:read-more:link]

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Acts 10 Is Not About Food!

A curious pig
Read time: 9 minutes

A couple of months ago I was listening to a sermon by someone whom I respect and whose work I appreciate. He is faithful to the Bible and in building up the church. The sermon was on what it is that sets Christians apart from the rest of the world. He drew parallels with how the ancient nation of Israel was to be set apart (Deuteronomy 14:2). They were meant to live in a way which was distinct from their neighbours—metaphorically as well as spiritually—so that they could be a light to the other nations (Exodus 34:10). The laws given through Moses to ancient Israel was not a way to become holy, but to show their holiness (that is, that they are set apart by God to live according to His will). As such, we do not need to fret over individual laws and what they mean; indeed, as an example, in Acts 10 God abolished the dietary laws of the Old Testament!

Except, that He did not. [node:read-more:link]

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Enough is Enough: Humans Were Not Meant to be Efficient

Smoke rises up from factories
Read time: 10 minutes

If I were to say the title "Cheaper by the Dozen", most people will likely think of the 2003 movie featuring Steve Martin: a comedy about the chaos of a family with twelve children. Few people may know, though, that the story is (very!) loosely based on a 1948 book about a real family of twelve children and their parents, Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. Far from the slapstick of the 2003 film1, it was a warm hearted memoir of an interesting and sometimes eccentric family, with genuine humorous anecdotes. [node:read-more:link]

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Festival of Thought 2018

Festival of Thought logo
Read time: 4 minutes

Last week the Festival of Thought was hosted in Cape Town and Stellenbosch. The festival is a wonderful initiative by RZIM, aimed at students and the business world, to discuss the big questions in life, such as meaning and morality. With more than a dozen local and international speakers, and around 100 events across five metropolitans or campuses, this was a huge effort which was a wonderful opportunity for people to gain some insights into contemporary debates and engage with others in open, honest and civil discussion. [node:read-more:link]

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Good and Evil in Star Wars

Star Wars logo
Read time: 8 minutes

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... there was perhaps the most famous story (with an ardent following) of science fantasy that was ever known! It is an epic tale of good versus evil. But, many people may not realise that it is not the kind of good, or a kind of evil, which they may intuitively have expected. Indeed, while it superficially looks like the stories of good and evil familiar to Western lore, the story of Star Wars is rooted in a much different tradition, where the concepts of good and evil have a unique origin and different meaning. [node:read-more:link]

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Equip 2018

Equip logo
Read time: 4 minutes

From 29 March until 2 April 2018, I once again had the privilege to attend the Equip Easter Conference at the beautiful Rocklands in Simon's Town. Our speaker this year was Richard Coekin from Dundonald in London. Apart from his involvement with Dundonald, he is also the director of the Co-Mission Church Planting Initiative, which has done incredible work in some difficult mission fields. [node:read-more:link]

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Responding to the Euthyphro Dilemma

Bust of Socrates
Read time: 8 minutes

Introduction

The Euthyphro dilemma is an argument meant to illustrate a difficulty which theism faces. This difficulty is, from where does goodness come? If something is good because God decreed it as such, we are in a precarious situation where God can command something truly horrible as being good, such as murder or genocide. On the other hand, if God knows what is good from a transcendent source and simply relays it to us, then God is not all powerful, but Himself dependant on abstract, transcendent truths.

The Euthyphro dilemma is the bane of Christian apologists. Not because it is an effective refutation of theism, but because it is a tired argument which has already been refuted many times. Yet, still, armchair anti-theists, and even philosophical scholars, believe that the Euthyphro dilemma is a death knell to theism1.

In this article I aim to undertake to refute the Euthyphro dilemma. The refutation is not anything new, but I aim to do it in a way, possibly novel, where the originator of this argument is turned upon himself. [node:read-more:link]

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L'Abri in South Africa

The L'Abri Logo
Read time: 5 minutes

L'Abri is in the process of establishing a presence in South Africa. To celebrate this, a few events were held over the weekend around Cape Town, and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a couple; both small workshops. L'Abri South Africa will be based in Johannesburg. [node:read-more:link]

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Common Sense

Water drops cause ripples in a bucket of water
Read time: 6 minutes

Imagine living in a small, rural village. You are a subsistence farmer, growing vegetables, and have a couple of nice fruit trees. You also have a handful of livestock. In the middle of the village is a large piece of open land with juicy grass growing on it. Nobody is allowed to build there, because the leader of the village has decreed that this is common land. The intention is that everyone in the village graze their livestock on their own land, but because the properties are small, livestock can also graze on the common land to get enough food to be healthy. [node:read-more:link]

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Is Our Worship Narcissistic?

Hand raised during a praise and worship session
Read time: 5 minutes

"Millenials are narcissistic," we are told. Social commentators, employers, even pastors lament how difficult it is to work with this generation. They continue to struggle to figure out how best to connect with them, because millenials are literally the next generation, and to them the reigns will necessarily be handed. [node:read-more:link]

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Did Christianity Cause the Dark Ages?

Medieval scribe writing at a desk
Read time: 11 minutes

What is in a name? And how does a name influence how we think about the thing that has been named? What conclusions do we draw from a name?

There is a period of time in the history of Europe which is known at the Dark Ages, although these days it is better known as the Middle Ages or, even better, the Medieval period.

A particular picture has been doing the rounds on the Internet which makes the following claim about the Medieval period:

You know, there was another time when science wasn't taken seriously and religion ruled the world. We called it the Dark Ages.

Atheistic Facebook pages and the like are fond of sharing images such as this. But does it hold any truth? [node:read-more:link]

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A Strange Case of Metaphysics

Read time: 6 minutes

Scientists are often not fond of the idea of metaphysics. Physics is, of course, the study of the natural world and universe. Metaphysics is the study of what is really real. It implies that there is something beyond physics and, therefore, beyond the natural world and the physical universe. This is anathema to scientism—that is, scientific naturalism: how dare one assume that there exists something beyond nature, especially since there is no physical and testable evidence of such things?

Yet there seems to be a prominent and curious case of when metaphysics is appealed to when science disagrees with what people want to believe... [node:read-more:link]

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Merry Christmas 2017

Silhouette of the nativity scene
Read time: 3 minutes

Sometimes we do not feel like being here. By "here", I mean in this world; on earth. Sometimes we are distressed about big, insurmountable things, like war and famine. Other times, we are personally wronged. These things can make us want to flee; whether to a desolated island, another planet, or even depart this realm completely for heaven. [node:read-more:link]

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