Philosophies, perspectives, and beliefs that shape my life and work.
"I like to party."
And by "party," I mean "read books."
about the name VIA
The name "via" comes from the Latin which means "the way" or "by way of." It is an ablative form of "via," which means "way, road, channel, course." It is also from the French "viable" which means "capable of life" (1539), from "vie," "life” (from the Latin vita "life;").
There are 5 reasons why I use “VIA.”
1. The early followers of Jesus were not originally called "Christians" (a title that comes later at Antioch, cf. Acts 11:26). Rather, they were known as a Jewish sect called "The Way" (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22).
My faith tradition is rooted in the developments that occurred in the context of first-century Judaism. This understanding compels a rigorous study and commitment to the original context of this movement to unveil, as best as we can, the original intent of the movement’s founder
The name “VIA” recognizes myself as a member of “The Way.”
2. Jesus called himself "The Way." (John 14:6) An allusion to Deuteronomy 5:33, this term evokes and invokes an inauguration of what was known as “The Kingdom of God,” a way of life in accordance with the love, compassion, mercy, and justice of the God of Israel.
The name "VIA" is my commitment to “The Way."
3. A main trade route through ancient Israel is now called the "Via Maris" [by way of the sea (דרך הים), cf. Isaiah 9:1-2]. Ancient societies relied upon the Via Maris for trade and commerce. It is significant to recognize that the land of Israel, the stories of the Bible, and the foundational events of Jewish and Christian history are located at the crossroads of the world, nestled and settled in the center of the Fertile Crescent. This geographical location evinces the global vision of this faith, that “all families on earth shall be blessed.” This purpose is especially palpable for myself as a resident of Silicon Valley, a center of the “technological fertile crescent.”
The name "VIA" locates me as living on "The Way."
4. The word "via" in American English just simply means "through the medium or agency of" or "by a route that touches or passes through; by way of:..." The "agency" or "medium" or "route" is not the destination, nor the glory of the travel. Rather, the "way" is merely a conduit, a means through which you get to a destination or goal. The name "via" could also be understood as a carrier service, e.g., sending a piece of mail via the USPS.
The name "VIA" humbles me as a mere conduit for "The Way."
5. Philosophically, I believe life is a journey, a path to be traversed upon, step by step.
The name "VIA" reminds me to enjoy and take advantage of every step along "The Way."
This Roman mile marker is from the city of Capernaum in Galilee inscribed with the words "VIA MARIS" or "way of the sea," a main travel and trade route through ancient Israel.
I consider myself...
a professional amateur
The word "amateur" comes from the root word for "love." So in calling myself a "professional amateur," I am saying two things.
First, that I am in the "profession" or “business” of "love," that my prime objective in ministry, in consulting, in worship, and in speaking, is to care for the people I serve. My commitment is to create products, services, sermons, media, and teachings that spread and share the full essence of love, of agape (αγαπη), ahava (אהבה) and hesed (חסד).
Second, I love my work. It is often thought that an "amateur" is someone who is "inept," or "unskillful." Etymologically speaking, however, an amateur is someone who engages in their craft out of a deep love for it (which usually results in high competency). In addition, I choose to love it. It's fun, engaging, challenging, and I truly desire to make difference in this world.
BONUS: The Hebrew word for work is first found in Genesis 2, where God rests from all his "work" (מלאכה). It not only connotes "creativity," "craft," and "service," it is morphologically similar to the word "angel" (מלאך) which means "messenger" or "sender."
a pragmatic theorist
The process of developing and substantiating theories helps us understand how the world works through a system of ideas. Scientifically, theories are upheld and confirmed by the collection of facts.
I consider myself a theorist, in this general sense. I like making sense of the world through various "theories." For example, I theorize that no one really grows up but just gets better at being a Junior Higher, that all adults are really just sophisticated juveniles. Given the number of grown individuals I have encountered who whine, are egocentric, and throw temper tantrums when they don't get their way (especially in politics), I propose my theory to be "confirmed."
However, a "pragmatist" is someone who operates and functions realistically, in a practical rather than a theoretical level. In Hellenistic thought, a pragmatist is someone who "relates to the facts" of the matter.
So, in calling myself a "pragmatic theorist," I characterize myself as someone who likes to collect data and formulate systems of thought that are practical and applicable to real people, in real-life circumstances and situations. An abstract system of thought must do some good in the world, and make an "on-the-ground" difference.
a humanistic theologian
I have studied theology my entire adult life, first in church, then in bible college, seminary, and independently, just for kicks and giggles. I'll be honest. Much of theology–in my humble opinion–is fantastical, ethereal, and so esoteric (unable to truly be grasped) that it exists solely in the towers of the scholastic elite, the privileged few who have the leisure and arrogant erudition to spend time nuancing the finer details of "god" or "the divine." It is "so heavenly minded," it is really "no earthly good."
Theology, in my work, in the rawest sense, ought to be humanistic, a philosophical viewpoint that focuses on the person. It must be meaningful, in the truest sense, for someone's life, identity, purpose, and work. This kind of theology incarnates ideas about the divine, metaphysical, and transcendent into a love for fellow people.
Is there a tension that exists here, between a "theocentric" and "anthropocentric" theology? Absolutely. But a "humanistic theologian" avoids getting lost in the "-centric" debate altogether, and simply embraces them both as collaboratively interdependent.
an existential possibilitarian
In short, I believe in "hope."
In long-form, there are several psychological postures that determine one's outlook or attitude toward the world, such as, "Scarcity v. Abundance," (Stephen Covey) "Growth v. Fixed Mindset," (Carol Dweck) and "Learned Optimism" (Martin Seligman). I use the word "existential" to describe the base reality of all of these, which is "we exist."
Pithier, my muse post sums it up: "We have a glass. Checkmate pessimists."
Existence has two main features. One, is "being," (ontology) and two is the movement through the dimension of time (chronology). It is disheartening to me that so many of us use existence to fret about what we are "not" and what has been lost through the passing of time. This enslaves us to the past, and to an ontology that no longer exists.
But that is not truth. Nor is it helpful.
Being an "existential possibilitarian" means being captivated by the reality of existence, and to celebrate it as a gift. It means that the passage of time is not to be lamented, but to be celebrated because in front of us are not yet imagined, unfathomable possibilities that can be realized. We simply must believe.
[BONUS: The image on this frame is a picture of a mustard seed plant over the background of the Herodium, the mountain palace of Herod the Great. See Matthew 17:20.]
a passionate ideophile
The Latin word "passio" means "to suffer," usually from "strong emotion" or "desire."
I love books, and accordingly have considered myself a bibliophile. However, I have decided to change that moniker, because I realized that I don't actually like the physical artifact, or even the art of it as a "bibliophile" would. Rather, I yearn for the content—the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, the ideas—that change the world. Perhaps I should use the word "sophiaphile?"
In Platonic thought, an "idea" is the non-physical "form" that represents the most accurate reality. The most common illustration is that the "idea of a chair" is more real than the physical object. Why? If the physical object would cease to exist, the "idea" of a chair would still exist. While I do not subscribe to this philosophy, the philosophical pursuit of that which most accurately represents reality does describe who I am.
The Greek word "ειδος" (eidos) connotes "seeing" or "comprehending." In this regard, I am passionate about seeing and comprehending the world, in all its fullness.
an epistemological agnostic
This is no doubt the term that gets me into the most trouble, as someone who is a spiritual leader and yet uses the word "agnostic."
"Epistemology" is the theory and construct of knowledge and truth. It asks, How do we know what we know? Do we truly "know" anything? What is the nature of that knowledge? What is truth?
The word "agnostic," etymologically speaking, is simply "not knowing," or the "absence" of ultimate knowledge. While some use this word to describe their worldview, that they are uncommitted or doubtful for the affirmation of some proposition, I use it to simply describe a disdain for absolutism and pure objective certitude. We are, after all, subjects who receive knowledge filtered through our own experiences.
In many ways, describing myself as an "epistemological agnostic" is to simply express humility. It is to say, my understanding should never be undisputed, my convictions never unquestioned.
It is also to say that there is more that I don't know than I do know, and life is about the continued quest to further and advance wisdom and understanding. Epistemological absolutists do not pursue discovery or more wisdom. May I never be so calcified.
an ontological cartographer
Ontology is the branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being and existence. Cartography is the science or practice of drawing maps, a diagrammatic representation that illustrates a spacial arrangement. To map one's nature, being, and existence is to locate it within some sort of framework.
To be an ontological cartographer is to find, create, develop, and curate ways of framing our world that make sense of our existence manifesting in “meaning” or “purpose.” Regardless of whether the pathway is religious, scientific, or philosophical, I find great joy in the mapping, for myself, and for others.
an excruciatingly curious creature
I believe curiosity is the remedy for many of life’s ailments. The opposite of fear is not courage, but curiosity. The opposite of condemnation is not forgiveness, but curiosity. The opposite of shame is not pride, but curiosity.
I also believe curiosity is one of the highest virtues in life, a posture that stands on the three pillars of humility, inquiry, and discovery.
This curiosity is “excruciating,” as it is painful how much I don’t know, and will never know. However, the impulse and intention to understand drive me to wondrous and amazing places, and I have found life in the pursuit of that discovery.
It all comes down to this:
Everyone needs a story by which they live, a community with whom they belong, and a purpose to which they contribute.