Monday, 24 June 2013

Minimalism & Seeing Past The Superficial.

"Since discovering minimalism, my life has changed significantly. The process of promoting values and removing distractions has forced new intentionality in life. As a result, many of my habits have changed. I spend money differently. I spend time more efficiently. I exercise more. I wake earlier." -- Joshua Becker
"In an era of public booty-bouncing and other ubiquitous in-your-face expressions of sensuality, it’s about time we had a new standard of sexy.

Real sexiness is so much more than physical shape and form. It’s more than style and wardrobe, attitude and visible swag. And it’s certainly more than the lopsided exposed skin to covered skin ratio depicted on today’s popular media channels.

We are increasingly in desperate need of a more enduring standard, one that includes more than face and body – one that includes the shape and form of internal qualities, those that add joy and passion to life, those of heart, mind and soul."
- Ken Wert
Real love
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres...... Love never fails." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
You might be wondering what the first two excerpts above have in common, both written by expert writers and both very concise and germane, however both are different topics... or are they ??  Why did I also quote the platitude from Corinthians?  Everyone has heard this quote, just about every wedding and funeral service these days uses it.  I refer to it as a platitude not because I feel the verse is fallacious (I actually believe it's perfect), but rather because it has become so overused and misunderstood in today's society.  Increasing moral decline and focus on worldly pleasures mean people have forgotten this is actually how love was meant to be, yet they still toss the quote around in an banal fashion as if they embrace it's essence.  Divorce, abortion, failed relationships, homeless children, debt, drugs, and the like all prove to me that the world is slowly but surely forgetting how to LOVE.
It was no mistake that I placed Joshua's quote before Ken's, I am not saying that one article is better than the other, or one writer more relevant, I am saying however that one process enhances the next.  Joshua Becker in his article talks about how minimalism promotes values and removes distractions (what a fantastic concise sentence), and Ken talks about the superficial ubiquitous promotion of sexuality minus the heart, mind and soul.  God help our children and their future relationships if they are allowed to succumb to this form of indoctrination.
Let's merge the two.

"Minimalism has changed my life and enriched my relationships. I have found new direction and intentionality in all I do and think. The process of promoting values and removing distractions has allowed me to shun indoctrination and peer pressure and find freedom in my life. My relationship with my spouse has never been deeper or more meaningful. I have learned to see the book, when before all I saw was it's cover.  In an era of public booty-bouncing and other ubiquitous in-your-face expressions of sensuality, it’s about time we had a new standard of sexy.

Real sexiness is so much more than physical shape and form. It’s more than style and wardrobe, attitude and visible swag. And it’s certainly more than the lopsided exposed skin to covered skin ratio depicted on today’s popular media channels.

We are increasingly in desperate need of a more enduring standard, one that includes more than face and body – one that includes the shape and form of internal qualities, those that add joy and passion to life, those of heart, mind and soul.
Minimalism has given me a new way to see myself, the world, and other people.  Once I saw the superficial now I look for the meaningful, once I looked only for "sexy" now I seek inner beauty,  once I sought self pleasure now I seek to please. " - Brett Tulk et alii.

Many of the problems that relationships face today result from an increasing trend of Independence within the relationship. It's no longer savvy to be in a co-dependant relationship, couples should be able to stand on their own two feet and thus be free to bail when the going gets tough. While a level of independence is healthy, isn't a relationship about caring for each other and being co-dependant?  I just don't see the point in being in a relationship where you live more like bed sharing flat mates. We all know the term for this increasing trend, F... Buddies, which by it's own definition infers that the priority focus is physical with as few strings attached as possible.

In the English vocabulary we use the single word "love" to describe many types of feelings, it's interesting to note that biblical Greek had more than one definition for our singular umbrella word "love".  I Have a another quote below for you to peruse, it explains five different Greek meanings for love.  The problem today is we focus more on the selfish demarcations of the word when we should be, at the least, more holistic and the best totally selfless.  Minimalism has helped me to see love in all it's forms and to experience the same in return.  Don't be put off by the biblical content, this post is not about religion, I used it only as a reference to explain the different forms of love.

"Think about this: the word ‘LOVE’ is a loosely used term in the English language. I love God, I love my wife, I love my Dad, I love spicy curry, I love writing, I love cooking and I love football. Surely these are not all the same type and degree of love yet we use the same word to describe all.

Do I love spicy curry in the same way that I love football? Do I love Dad in the same way that I love writing or cooking? Do I love my wife in the same way that I love God?

To begin to better understand LOVE let us consult the Greek and C.S. Lewis‘ book The Four Loves, Harcourt, Brace 1960. The Ancient & Modern Greek languages have many different words for love. Here are four (4) that I know of, that describe different aspects of LOVE.

NOTE: There are five (5) words below but we cannot include the first as akin to love for obvious reasons.

1. PATHOS (Strong’s G3806)
This may also be called “lust”. This is a depraved vile passion that includes inordinate sexual appetites. It is described as ‘inordinate affection‘ in Colossians 3 and Christians are urged to KILL it.

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” (v.5 KJV)

Many people mistake this for love and are held captive by it’s enticing grasp. PATHOS is an affection but it is NOT love.

This may also be called “romance”. It is a passionate emotion, with a major focus on sensual connection and a minor focus on sexual desire and longing. This Greek word is not found in the Holy Bible but is described by Lewis. He says:

“A man in this state really hasn’t leisure to think of sex. He is too busy thinking of a person. The fact that she is a woman is far less important than the fact that she is herself. He is full of desire, but the desire may not be sexually toned. If you asked him what he wanted, the true reply would often be, “To go on thinking of her.”" [pg. 133]

While EROS may not focus on sex it does not exclude sex. Lewis himself admits that “at a later stage the explicitly sexual awakens” in this type of man. EROS is an emotion but is not true love.

This may also be called “affection”. According to Lewis, it is the most natural, sensitive, and wide spread type of ‘love’. He says:

“The Greeks called this love storge (two syllables and the g is “hard”). I shall here call it simply Affection. My Greek Lexicon defines storge as “affection, especially of parents to offspring”; but also of offspring to parents. And that, I have no doubt, is the original form of the thing as well as the central meaning of the word. The image we must start with is that of a mother nursing a baby…” [pg. 53]

Lewis explains:

“The importance of this image is that it presents us at the very outset with a certain paradox. The Need and Need-love of the young is obvious; so is the Gift-love of the mother. She gives birth, gives suck, gives protection. On the other hand, she must give birth or die. She must give suck or suffer. That way, her Affection too is a Need-love. There is the paradox. It is a Need-love but what it needs is to give. It is a Gift-love
but it needs to be needed.” [pg. 54]

Even though STORGE exists without coercion it exhibits a GIFT-NEED / NEED-NEED relationship. For it to become true love NEED must be eliminated and another element added. STORGE is affection but it is not true love in and of itself.

4. PHILOS (Strong’s G5384)
This may also be called “friendship”. According to Lewis this expression of love, or true friendship, is the same as the love that David and Jonathan shared and is almost non-existent now.

“…the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” (1 Samuel 18:1 KJV)

“I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26 KJV)

Lewis says very few modern people equate this type of friendship with love. Is it that mankind has grown so cold that the ability to love in this way has diminished? Has PATHOS become prevalent and in it’s prevalence corrupted PHILOS?

PHILOS is used throughout the New testament. One such example is the conversation Jesus had with Peter in John 21:15-17.

Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. The first two times, in verses 15 and 16 Jesus used the word AGAPAO, which refers to that LOVE which Christ himself has for mankind. Peter used the word PHILEO in his response to Jesus. PHILEO derives from PHILOS and refers simply to friendship. The third time Jesus asked the question, verse 17, Jesus used the word PHILEO and Peter felt sorrowful.

“He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”

Twice Jesus asked: Peter, do you love me the way that I love you? Peter’s answer was: I love you as a friend. Then the third time Jesus asked: Peter, do you love me as a friend? Peter was hurt and sorrowful because it was the truth, he only loved Jesus as a friend and not unconditionally. This may explain why he eventually went on to deny Jesus three times.

How many of us love in this way and need to examine ourselves? PHILOS is a lovely affection but it is not unconditional love.

5. AGAPE (Strong’s G26)
This may also be called “charity” or “unconditional love“. It is described in the Holy Bible as the greatest virtue.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 KJV)

The word charity is translated from the Greek word AGAPE, pronounced ä-gä’-pā. It is very different from our modern word
charity, which refers merely to kindness.

Biblical CHARITY (true love) denotes affection, good will, love, benevolence and brotherly love. Most importantly, TRUE LOVE: suffers long, is kind, does not envy, is not boastful, and is not prideful (v.4). TRUE LOVE does not behave disgracefully, is not self-seeking, is not provoked easily and does not calculate evil (v.5). TRUE LOVE does not rejoice in acts of injustice or unrighteousness but rejoices in truth (v.6). TRUE LOVE protects from imminent danger, has confidence in truth, hopefully trusts, and endures until rewarded (v.7). TRUE LOVE is never without power or effect (v.8).

We see here that AGAPE is the epitome of LOVE and that GOD is love’s ultimate personification since He IS love. Anyone who does not love does not know God.

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:8 KJV)

It stands to reason that once we
FIND GOD, we find true love and become vessels of LOVE (God). We can expect that vessels of this true LOVE will automatically demonstrate LOVE and will gravitate towards each other. The search for anything other than AGAPE is futile.

Be LOVE (agape) and be LOVED!" -

To conclude can I encourage you to ponder the above article then in light of what you read have a look at Marc and Angels link, check it through and see how many boxes you can tick.  Take this opportunity to ask yourself if you see past the superficial and appreciate inner true beauty. 
~~~ Brett Tulk ~~~

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