Friday, January 23, 2015

What I Think About Chickens and God

When I was in the first grade, I discovered one of my classmates lived right around the corner from me. She became my first unrelated friend. We lived in rural Northwest Ohio and spent the summers riding our bikes and/or walking down the freshly tarred back road she lived on. Maybe three quarters of a mile away, past nothing except a neighboring farm warranting its own traffic signs

(My sister kindly went and took these two shots for me today.) :)

and fields growing corn taller than we were, we would visit a drainage ditch with two tunnels under an even "backer" road. We called this magical place "The Bridge".

I introduced my brothers and cousins to The Bridge right away. My older brother almost stepped on a snake there once. My youngest brother liked watching two small otters that played there one year. My cousin David caught a crayfish, a.k.a. the strangest-looking creature I think I ever saw outside of a zoo or a science book. Me? I would lie on my stomach in one of the tunnels really still and suddenly spring my hand to try and catch minnows in the small pool of water below the tunnel's edge. I never succeeded. But I noticed an interesting phenomenon. Whenever my hand moved in the water, the pool became murky and I would have to be still and wait for a while until I could see what was happening with the minnows again.

I've noticed this makes a good analogy for how my mind works. As I input information on a subject, it seems I can't think clearly about that subject for a very long time - like my mind takes time to unconsciously make up itself, with only data entry required by me. Also, my emotions and thoughts seem to be bound together somehow, because when I can't think, my emotions seem to make up the murky stuff I can't see through. It's akin to a snow globe sitting on an ever-shifting base. The confetti of my thoughts and emotions always seems to be in a blizzard through which I can only glimpse at what lies beneath it.

But every once in a while things settle and all of a sudden, for a few moments everything feels calm and I can actually articulate what I believe about things. Things like God, about whom my sense of perception is constantly evolving. I had one of those moments about 4:00 this morning. It was a welcome experience, because I have felt so completely ungrounded lately. I would like to articulate my thoughts here as a point of reference for my thinking in the near future.

In spite of often bordering on doubt as to whether God even actually exists, I confess I do still believe in a fundamental part of who I am. I do not know who, what, where, why, or how God is. As for "when" God is, God was, is, and will be; God is eternal and always. I have an inkling as to who and what God is, which informs my understanding of who and what I am as a human. God is my Creator, and God is love. The expression of God's image in me, therefore, is in the giving and receiving of love. And this informs the "why," as in, "Why are we here?" and "Why does God put us here and allow evil to dwell here with us?"

"Heaven," or "where" God is (according to traditional thought), is supposed to be perfect, with no pain or injustice. But in such an atmosphere, how would the God-likeness in us (the imago Dei) ever know expression? I believe evil and injustice and lack break the heart of God; but they serve a purpose. What would break God's heart more? Perhaps a perfect void of love (a.k.a. "hell")? In the face of cruelty and poverty and oppression, individuals have opportunity both to give and receive love, whether is be in the form of a blanket, a refuge, a smile.... Just as people grow in knowledge and maturity in so many other areas, they also grow in "the Spirit"...which I think "living in the Spirit (of God)" means living as God would (and does) live - in the continual giving and receiving of love. A child may be able to love by sharing a favorite toy. An adult may be able to love by sharing their home with a friend, or even stranger, in need. The greater the darkness, the greater the opportunity there seems to be for expressions of love, such as smuggling/harboring refugees from an attempted genocide.

(unknown source: I saw it on Facebook!)
As N.T. Wright (and others?) has articulated so much better than I, perhaps our longing - for home, peace, justice, etc. - is an echo of something we know deep inside of us exists, somewhere, sometime. Do I understand it all? NO. Do I believe? Yes. Something in me just won't let go.

7 comments:

  1. Thrilled to see a post from you again my friend! While I think we suffer in this life due to the sinful nature of mankind after the fall, I do believe in suffering we have a great opportunity to minister to the needs of others. And in our own sufferings we learn what ministrations are needed in those times. It can be hard to know something is needed or what to do if you have never walked in their shoes.

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    1. Oh, yes! So true. Thank you for adding that. It also reminded me, when we are experiencing hardship ourselves and choose to show love to someone else in need, that is a whole higher level of walking in the Spirit, I think.

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  2. I never consciously believed in God. I definitely became an atheist in 3rd grade when we had a crazy teacher serving us a lot of dogmatic and old-fashioned religious nonsense ("I'm not angry with you, but God is angy with you"). Being an atheist does of couse make it somewhat more difficult to answer questions like why are we here? and what's the meaning of life? I usually see it as a consequence of the laws of physics. It's quite unlikely that the earth and mankind will appear in this way, but with billion of galaxies and planets, the unlikely things will happen sometimes. Just like most people don't win the big lottery, but some do. Another interesting question is if civilization is possible without with out religion to guide our moral and ethics. I think the answer is yes, because most of mankind is born with a sense of empathy, fortunately >:)

    Cold As Heaven


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    1. What horrible things for little ears to hear!! Unfortunately, mine did too :/. Some people never reexamine what they were taught to believe.

      I think it would be interesting to learn if any historical people groups functioned without any kind of religious morality. Most of us had some sort of belief system either in our own upbringing or in that of our society... I do think it's interesting that morality exists regardless of WHICH religion is being looked at (in anthropological studies).

      If "survival of the fittest" givens how we treat each other, empathy doesn't seem to me to be the reasonable option when carrying for another (expressing love) means possible detriment to oneself, as there are so many examples of this in history, like in war or taking care of the diseased, etc. It makes me think there's more to it all than just physics.

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  3. Be assured that much would be greatly different if this world and our existences in it were ever meant to last for longer than an exceedingly short time in comparison to the whole of eternity. Be also assured that we have a lot in common and I would love to talk to you in greater depth about such things when you are willing.

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    1. Jerry, I am always up to deeper conversations of this sort. I'm kind of strapped for time at the moment, working two jobs and with school in full swing. My schedule MIGHT be a little clearer in a few weeks, so maybe we could talk more then. :)

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    2. I look forward to it, and since I am now working on another book, there is certainly no rush.

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