Tuesday, January 1, 2008

the mind of a child

I learned somewhere that the mind of a child can hold two conflicting thoughts without a problem. The child does not need a reason to believe something. My childhood, and maybe yours, was filled with belief absent obvious reason other than faith or trust. I didn't ever worry that my dad didn't know where we were going on vacation, I just got in the car and went. I didn't question whether he had checked the oil or the tires or anything else. I trusted him. And he never gave me reason to not trust him.
When parents would come to visit me in the past about a child being afraid of monsters, I would tell them that it was a bad idea to put a fake label on a can of Lysol and call it Monster Spray and spray under the bed before the child went to sleep. If you were telling the child during the day that there was no such thing as monsters, how could you justify spraying for them at night? But I was thinking like an adult. Kids can handle those kinds of things. Things don't have to "make sense". Now my advice is different, and I hope that day by day I can think more like a child.
I don't need to be "faked out" to believe in God. But in our world system, there is much "evidence" that God is not real, and in a twist of the monster story above, we are asked to NOT believe in something that we know is real. The child will grow out of belief in monsters, and there are those that think that people should grow out of their belief in God as well. To put these two ideas in the same paragraph seems almost sinful, but for many people in this world, the beliefs in God and monsters are on the same level. They are wrong.
God is not limited by our reasoning. Our wisdom is foolishness to Him. We don't have to know everything, and not everything has to make sense. This may sound trite and childish, and I'll take the latter and hope to convince you that the former isn't true. I get very uncomfortable when Christians try to put God in a box and explain His miracles and put His Word into neat little outlines that fit our minds. There is a God and He is the Creator of the universe, I'm convinced of that just like I was convinced my dad had enough money for vacation and that we wouldn't run out of gas before the next stop. I had no reason, only trust and experience. And that's enough for me. When those who wish to prove or disprove the existence of God look for evidence to support their ideas, they are looking with adult minds, minds that don't believe in things they can't see, touch, hear, and examine. But they swallow things they want to believe much easier.
We choose to believe or not to believe things. Most things that we believe are things of which we really have no intellectual understanding. We believe because we are told to believe, that others believe it, others that are smarter or prettier or richer than we are. So it must be true. Belief in global warming, global cooling, recessions, the big bang theory, evolution, how kids grow up good or bad, all these are things most people have no earthly knowledge of, but most have a belief voiced as an opinion. Why do we put belief in God, in Creation, in Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, to a tougher test than the stuff Al Gore, Michael Moore, etc., put out as truth? Maybe God needs a PR person? Someone to convince people He did what He says He did, that He's in charge and that we shouldn't worry. I don't think so. Read the book of Job in the Bible and near the end, after 4 friends of Job try to explain God with adult minds and mess it up royally, God pretty much does His own PR. He says "where were you when I..." and proceeds to list many things that He created, things that have no easy scientific explanation other than that they "are", and then puts down the microphone and leaves it up to us to believe or not believe. All belief is based to some extent on faith, whether we think of it that way or not - I believe this chair is going to hold my weight, that this computer is hooked up to the internet, that I will get in my car later and it will start and take me where I steer it, etc. I trust that these things are true, not necessarily from any great knowledge of furniture or computer or automotive design, but from experience and observation. So we live our lives on the basis of belief and trust, but then when belief and trust in God are raised as questions, we tend to scrutinize and "need to know more" in order to believe, instead of just going with experience and observation, and even what other people tell us is true. Does God need a PR person? Need? No. Want? Yes. And it's me and you. We should live lives that make it easier for people to experience and observe God firsthand. If there is no basis for trust in God in a person's life, if they couldn't trust their dad like I could, then we need to be God to that person. Point out where He's working and how He's working. Not with a heavy hand, but with a helping hand, a loving hand. And maybe not even with God on our lips all the time, but inferred by our actions that will make this person wonder what is different about you. Not with an agenda of being God's PR person, but by living a life spent in communion with Him all the time, so that out of our actions it will be obvious that God is there. Try to go back to when you had the mind of a child, talk to a child, listen to a child. If you look for God, you will see Him.


there is a sense of entitlement in our culture. no kidding. you may not have noticed, and if you haven't, don't read any further.

the entitlement we feel we have is that we should have choices. i've written on choice before, but i was just struck again at the mess we've made in society by demanding and offering too many choices. i do understand that the things that i want to choose and the things you want to choose are going to be different, but at some point there is general agreement and beyond that it just creates chaos.

so where did choice begin? it began several thousand years ago with eve, the serpent, and the garden of eden. how long were adam and eve in the garden before this event occurred? once God told them NOT to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, reverse psychology as a human characteristic was uncovered. i suspect it was there, but it showed its face at that point.
i really hadn't given it too much thought, but sometimes i'd wonder "what's wrong with knowing good and evil?" well, good was the "default" mode of humans until this point. there was no evil as far as adam and eve were concerned. they were truly innocent and in a good way, ignorant. evil didn't exist, so they never "chose" evil. it wasn't on the list of things to choose. so once eve ate the apple, so to speak, we were doomed to continue to add choices and choices to life until we've arrived at today.
i think i've written on my favorite bumper stickers before, but one is "question authority" and the other is "subvert the dominant paradigm". both are dependent on authority, someone or some entity to rebel against. of course, God is the ultimate authority we question, and HIs is the paradigm we so try to subvert. but we've tossed God out, sometime in the 60's or 70's, and now all we have are our own authority and paradigms on which to exercise our opposition.
at least when God was the ultimate authority, there was pretty much no question as to where He stood on most subjects. sure, we could muddy the waters on some issues, but the 10 commandments are pretty much written in stone. therefore, to try to subvert God's paradigm or question His authority one was limited to His Word as the "other" opinion.
today we have many authorities to question and many paradigms to subvert. some should be questioned and subverted, true, but to state the idea that one must always find problems with any authority or paradigm has led to the lack of any true authority in the world. there is no expert who cannot be found wrong on some point, no good idea that doesn't have a down side. there is no diet, no health food, no new drug, no government, no doctor, no procedure, against which there can be no question. and once questioned, subversion often follows.
my point? like growth charts for children, our current society, politically, morally, philosophically, is built on shifting sand. one is compared against another, like "curving" a test in school. if everyone did poorly, but you didn't do as poorly as the next guy, your grade is still good, regardless of the fact that you don't know the material well enough to pass. as long as we compare ourselves to ourselves, we will always find someone worse off than we are, and that makes what we do, the choice we make, ok, since they made a worse choice than us (based on our definition of good and bad). so...we need a point that doesn't shift. but we've decided (made a choice) to leave Him out, to pay no attention, to ignore the Creator of the universe. so we drift with our own ideas and choices, our own fallible authorities and paradigms to question and subvert. what was once considered vulgar is now commonplace, what was decidedly good is now illegal by the twisting of our constitution.
we have too many choices because we have chosen to have so many. before the garden, humans couldn't choose anything but good but there was no evil on the list of choices, but because we (i don't think we would do any better than eve) want choices, we have them. now we have to choose to do good. maybe when the dominant paradigm is evil, and the authorities all bad, our subversion and questioning will be justified.