Meaning: Either it’s there or it isn’t

One of the most appealing aspects of the Judeo-Christian understanding of reality is the idea of meaning and purpose: everything — including my life — has both meaning and purpose. Unlike an atheistic understanding of reality, my worldview doesn’t require that I live a fiction: instead, I get to live my life exactly as it is: with a meaning and a purpose.

Let me unpack that a bit.

One of the great tragedies of contemporary American culture is that despite the abundance of material wealth and leisure time which the vast majority of us have, many of us are profoundly unhappy. There are many causes for this malaise, among them a sense of purposelessness and a lack of meaning.

To overcome both, some people try to maintain a state of perpetual distraction, while others throw themselves into their work, hobby, or something else which at least gives their life the appearance of meaning.

The conundrum is this: if the atheist is right and there is no God, then life has no meaning, and any attempt to give it meaning is fictitious. While the average atheist may not have thought this through, the more intellectually-serious and -coherent atheists have (e.g. the twentieth century British philosopher Bertrand Russell, as I discussed in this post).

On the other hand, the Judeo-Christian account of reality says that yes, my life has meaning, every circumstance I encounter has meaning… indeed, everything in existence has meaning.

Instead of living either a lie — pretending there is meaning where there isn’t — or a life of “heroic despair” — acknowledging there is no meaning and soldiering on anyway — I get to live an adventure: first, discovering the meaning of my life, and then living it to the fullest.

I’ll take the latter option, and twice on Sundays, thank you very much.

So… what’s the meaning of your life?

Additions to the Q&A

an angry sky god?

I’ve made some additions to the Ultimate Q&A outline (see the entire work-in-progress here). Additions are in italics…

  • 1.1.2. Are you open to the possibility that God might exist?
  • No.
    • Why not?
      • I don’t want someone telling me what to do
      • I don’t like the idea of someone always watching everything I do

Again, feel free to propose additional questions and/or answers in the comments…

The Ultimate Catholic Q&A

Raphael, Transfiguration, 1516-1520

One of my long-term projects for Cruciform is an outline of sorts laying out the reasonable case for Catholicism. I’d like it to be in a flowchart format, but for the time being, it’ll have to be an outline. I’ve made this a Page that you can click on in the upper right as well.

Here’s the beginnings of the outline… feel free to add any questions in the comments.

  • 1. Do you believe there is a God?
    • What do you mean by “God”?
      • Great question! In short, by “God” I mean the Creator of the Universe spoken of in the Bible who is also the Uncaused Cause written about by the ancient Greek philosophers.
    •  Yes, I believe in that God.
      • Great, proceed to question 2.
    • No, I don’t believe that that God exists.
      • 1.1. Do you believe that any gods exist?
        • Yes, but not that one.
          • 1.1.1. Which gods do you believe in?
        • No, I don’t believe that any gods exist.
          • 1.1.2. Are you open to the possibility that God might exist?
            • No.
              • Why not?
            • Yes, but I don’t believe that that God exists because…
              • there is no proof that that God exists
              • belief in God contradicts science
              • pain & suffering prove that that God doesn’t exist
  • 2. Do you believe that Jesus of Nazareth is God?
  • 3. Do you believe that Jesus founded the Catholic Church?

Honey vs. Vinegar

One of my occasional hobbyhorses is the tone of civil discourse in general and online discourse in particular; at least when it comes to persuasion, I’m a firm believer in honey over vinegar: the first attracts more flies than the second.


But I’m also a convert to this approach, and a work-in-progress at that… after over 20 years of internet arguing, I’ve simply been more successful when I’ve bitten my tongue and at least tried to rein in my desire to unload on the abortion-rights advocate/atheist/fundamentalist Baptist/liberal Catholic with whom I’m talking.

The problem for me is simply that I love to argue, as family and high school classmates can tell you. But the point in evangelization isn’t to win arguments but to win souls, and in my experience, the latter is no guarantee of the former.

Let me give an example.

Continue reading “Honey vs. Vinegar”

What to Expect When You’re Reading (Cruciform)

As I’ve mentioned before, this isn’t my first blog… the first go was pretty rant-heavy and all across the board, topic-wise.

It was also very across the board in terms of frequency of posting, due to the fact that most of my posts were in response to the news of the day, oftentimes political (hence the ranting).

With Cruciform, my intent is to be more deliberate in both topics and frequency. I’ve already spoken to the focus of this site; in terms of frequency you can expect to see one lengthy post per week and two to four shorter posts.

But this is also an experiment, with the results determined in large part by the preference of you, the reader… so please… let me know what you think as we go forward. And to that end, expect me to see questions every so often about what is most interesting and helpful to you, including the regularity of my posts.

Thanks for journeying with me!


One thing that continues to strike me is the way that deep truths both have a certain beauty to them and provoke a beautiful response. The latter has certainly been the case with the Christian tradition and the multiple forms of artistic beauty that it inspires.

To that point, the other day I read this post listing ten classical music pieces for Easter. The author notes that he’s leaving off the most well-known Easter-inspired piece, which leads us down another road…

Many Christian traditions are known for the spiritual practice of giving something up for the six week-plus season of Lent, leading up to the celebration of Easter. Catholics, for instance, give up meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent.

Perhaps less well-known is the practice of “giving up” the Alleluia…

As with many Christian worship services, the Catholic Mass always includes a reading from one of the four Gospels. Immediately prior to the reading comes the Gospel acclamation, typically a verse or two from the Bible, which is “bookended” by the singing of the word “Alleluia.” This word is a variation of the Hebrew word Hallelujah, which is an exhortation to give praise to God.

During the seasons of Advent and Lent, however, Catholics “give up” the Alleluia, not singing it from Ash Wednesday through Good Friday. It is only at the Easter Vigil after sundown on Holy Saturday that this word is sung again.

Now that Lent is over and Easter has begun, this word — both an exhortation to give praise to God and itself a means of giving that praise — returns full force.

As such, it only seems appropriate to listen to what is probably the most well-known composition around this biblical word of praise: the “Hallelujah Chorus” from George Handel’s 1741 work The Messiah.

So… turn the volume up to 11, click the Play icon below and listen to the Royal Choral Society’s stirring performance of this classic:

Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!

Happy Easter!

The Resurrection of Christ, Paolo Veronese, c. 1570


Thirteen years after I started blogging (to the liturgical-day: it was late on the Easter Vigil of 2002) and six years after I unintentionally took a hiatus from said blogging (kids will do that to you!), I figure it’s time to get back in the saddle again. Well, I didn’t so much figure it out as succumb to the pressure accept the encouragement of some people near & dear to me… 😉

I see this blog as having a bit of a tighter focus that my first go… I plan to keep things focused on topics pertaining to Christian discipleship and living it out in the culture(s) of twenty-first century America.

I’m grateful to have you along for the ride… check out the About… page for more about me and this blog, and please join in the conversation by commenting or reaching out to me by email ( or twitter (@chrisburgwald).