|All of these cartoons come from Bizarro's website. I want to take this artist to coffee and ask him how he works. Brilliant.|
I have a feeling I'm gonna piss some folks off with this one. If you are one of those folks...sorry, but may I ask you nicely to get over it.
Here is my thought for today:
Believe in something, but always ask questions of it.
The people who I see are the happiest and most productive believe in something. I am not talking about just religious beliefs, although those are central to who I am as a person. What is it, outside of your family, that you are passionate about? What is it that makes you willing to take a stand or move outside your comfort zone? I'm excluding family because most of us are hard-wired to be passionate about them. If you are not, then this isn't the blog post to explore that. Its not about money, either. Money is money and, again, if that is what makes you passionate, this is not the blog post for you either.
For some of us, our faith is what makes us passionate. Others its the environment or some other social issue. There are any number of choices--my one caveat is that that passion has to make the world a better place. Safer. More reverent. More sustainable. More informed. More...you get my point, right?
My point is, those beliefs connect us to the world beyond ourselves and our family. Those connections to ourselves and family are important, but the connection to the 'other' reminds us that self and clan can take us to some dark, selfish places when we don't think of the world around us. And that world around us needs all of us.
Now, some of my evangelical friends are pissed that I have lumped the Christian faith in with global warming and music education. Surely, your faith gets higher billing that social issues, they say.
And some of my more progressive friends are pissed that I let religion in at all. Religion is the root of all evil, they say.
At this point I am going to ask all concerned to follow the motto: "I don't have to agree, but I do have to respect." Please listen before you try to flame me to the stone age.
To answer my friends, I'm gonna go backwards.
Number one, religion is humanity trying to put its brain around a God who transcends our brains. Man, in the name of God, has done some really shitty things...the Crusades, colonialism, slavery. Unfortunately, there are more every generation adding to that list. That isn't about following Christ. That reflects more on man than God. God has raised up disciples, not automatons. Disciples often go off script and, in a desire to please God or themselves, do damage. It's like blaming God for what happened in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. That was man on just about every level. We can ask where God was during the hurricane and the aftermath, but expecting God to fix everything with his 'magic do over' wand seriously misses the point. I saw God in the legions of people who drove minutes or hours to Lower Ninth Ward and waded into the waters to help the 'least of' their sisters and brothers.
Secondly, Christianity doesn't have a monopoly on making the world a better place and I there are times I think I see God more in the secular than the sacred. Just sayin'.
I do believe John 14:6 and the decisions I make are centered around what I believe God is calling me to do, to say and to think. I will have a conversation about my faith and the truths I believe with anyone who wants to have one. However, I know God uses creation to tell his story (Luke 19:40). God used wise men from another land to greet the Messiah (Matthew 2:1-12). [BTW-we can argue 'heathen magi' or god-fearing magi', but God used out-of-towners who didn't look or act like us'-which is my point.] Most importantly, Jesus listened to others based on where they were and then challenged them to be better (an adulterer: John 8:1-8, an outsider with mental illness/demons Mark 5:1-20, a Roman citizen: Acts 16:25-40, and a Jew: Acts 9:1-19.).
Belief and action is one half of the equation, the other half is to ask questions. I'm gonna invoke God here (my agnostic and atheistic friends--adjust as needed). God commands us to do stuff but faithfulness is not robotic. One of my favorite books of the bible is 1 John. One of my favorite verses is 1 John 4:1-3. Test every spirit. Sometimes what appears to be a text message from God is not. If you believe it to be from God then you need to do it. God gave us a brain and intended for us to use it. I often feel God more closely in my questions that anywhere else. There is something encouraging in knowing that the God who created the universe is patient enough to let me wrestle with his call and then rejoin him when I catch up.
In the non-secular world, organizations and institutions need truth-tellers as well. People to ask hard questions. History is riddled with once necessary and effective organizations which failed its adherents. My general rule of thumb is, when an organization or group stops asking questions of itself, its time for me to graciously make my way out of it.
God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.--Soren Kierkegaard
Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and
religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed
from deep nonsense. --Carl Sagan