Friday, August 26, 2005

Jump With Me, Intermezzo

In response to Part 2, tg2 posted the following:

If you hold something as being central to your faith (coming from a fundamentalist evangelical) that is something that will not move -- no matter how much you grow in understanding. Do you define that as a brick or as a frame? Does it matter? At the end of the day, what really matters is what you have understood about your faith. Without the pieces, there is no puzzle, without the puzzle there is no picture, without the picture there is no understanding ...

Good thought. What really matters?

I don't know if Pandora is ready to get out of the box or not, but maybe we should start at the beginning. In our postmodern, post-Christian world, what is REAL?

How do you know what it is? How do you recognize it? How do you distinguish the counterfeit?

Any takers?

9 Comments:

At 4:48 PM, Anonymous scott m said...

Connections to other people and their impact or ripples in your life. That was my first gut response to your question, "... what is REAL?" But then, my initial perspective was a reflection on what drew me to/back to the REAL God from the profusion offered and experienced. No argument did it. No argument could have done it. Nothing I read. No mystical or ecstatic experience. None of those are unique to Christianity. It was the repeated, unlooked for impact of Christians in my life that began to turn me. And that grew into a concern that by outright rejecting this one belief system, for reasons which individuals kept showing were not entirely true, I was shortchanging those in closest relationship to me, my wife and kids. So that is where I start.

But then I began to realize your question went further. Once you've opened the door of Christianity, how do you know what is REAL? In our post-everything world, everything is questioned. Nothing is assumed. Anyone who enters that door has accepted that Jesus is real. So that is the place to start. And honestly, it is on Christ that the letter writers pin the core of our faith as well. Jesus was real, in a real and fully human body. And he was fully God as well. He died on a cross. He rose again. He's alive and he provides a person to whom I can relate.

Those truths lie at the heart of our faith. I've returned to them again and again. The text that Jesus experienced everything I experience, encountered every temptation, and truly understands what I face has meant more to me than I can say, even when I didn't know much else.

From there I moved to the central creeds of the church. What has endured at the heart of the church for centuries?

I think it's too simplistic to just say scripture and leave it at that. All scripture must still be interpreted, related, understood, and applied. Scripture is god-breathed. It's useful. It's even true. But our attempts to understand it form the springs. As I seek to grasp and live the truth contained in scripture, I must hook it to the central truths found in Jesus and also his body, the church. Could an understanding that is truly new (even relatively speaking) be correct? I suppose anything is possible. But I always hesitate.

And frankly, the mad pursuit of perfect rational scriptural knowledge over the past few centuries has not led to anything definably or observably real. It looks more like a religion of rationalism, sacred writings, or both.

Cling to the revealed and consistently affirmed truths about Jesus. That's a huge part of the frame. Then explore and live out the rest with people. You will only know truth through relation, not through sterile, rational examination.

I'm rambling again....

 
At 12:47 PM, Blogger James Whitlock said...

Use your analogy of the brick>frame>picture.
Maybe their brick is brittle,
maybe their frame is not that sturdy, but you want to look at the picture. Maybe their picture is incomplete, or tells a different story. You have to look at the whole thing to really understand or recognize what is REAL..

We all paint different pictures..
and have different understanding of them..

You may think you have painted a Picasso, BUT GOD see's it as finger painting from you first day in Kindergarten...

Or it could be reversed, you see a fingerpainting and GOD see's a Picasso..

THE REAL question is "Do they know the picture they painted? And why they painted that picture?"

Hmm....

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger tom cottar said...

Hmm...

Deep thoughts from Mr. Wizard...LOL!

I think you're probably right. And I also think we sometimes think that we are professional art critics, juding the painting of others without really having a clue as to why they painted it. Maybe sometimes we don't even understand why we painted our own picture.

I guess it comes down to the question: Does something have to be experienced to be real? Can every experiece be 'real' and can reality be experienced? If something is experienced, is it true? And is there a difference between 'truth' and 'reality'?

tg2's original post had to do with 'what really matters'...in the scheme of eternity, I can only think of one thing: relationships (with God and with other people). I'm not sure much else lasts beyond that.

Is there something else that 'matters' in the scheme of things?

 
At 5:37 PM, Blogger James Whitlock said...

You are absolutely correct...

Nothing else matters but GOD and your relationship with other people, family, friends, coworkers.

I have interviewed hundreds of people, and one question that tells me alot about a person.

IS :How do you define success? or what makes a person successful?

MY answer to this question is:

For me, success to me is to know that I have a great relationship with christ, and he, has allowed me to have an abundance of family and friends. MY legacy on earth is my relationship with them. THE more family and friends I have, the more god has blessed me...

There is no material object or possesion in this world that could even come close to that....

And I am truley greatful for that...

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger -tg2 said...

I agree -- I'm also reminded of the famous quote by Dale Carnegie:

Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.

In that I am both successful (I got my relationship with my redeemer) and I am happy because that is what I wanted ;)

 
At 6:46 PM, Anonymous scott m said...

I liked the imagery of paintings. Though I'm not much of a painter, I've always enjoyed them. Part of bouncing on the trampoline has to include an element of honoring and appreciating the paintings of others, even when they are not in our own native style.

If that makes sense ...

 
At 6:55 PM, Blogger -tg2 said...

As long as (and yes, this is part of MY frame) the picture they're painting is one that aligns itself with what I hold to.

One might consider scott m's comment to be one of embracing alternate religions -- not something I'm able to do.

You might consider me a bigot, but yes, I believe that my religion, nay may Saviour, is the ONLY way to heaven. I would also extend that to say He is the only way to enlightenment (defined as an understanding of why we're here).

Scott, I expect nothing less than 40-1 lashes for the above comment.

 
At 1:32 PM, Blogger scott m said...

;-)

I wasn't really thinking of other religions at the time I was writing, but rather the diversity within Christianity. I'm certainly not talking about adopting a different faith.

However, I reread what I wrote, and I would have no problem applying my text and its imagery to non-Christian religions. There is something that is beautiful and good in most of them. And if you're relating to someone who adheres to a different religion, recognize that it's usually pretty central to them. I'm trying to convey this thought properly, but it's something that's easy to say improperly. However, there is something dishonoring about treating someone's core beliefs dismissively or refusing to acknowledge anything good when some good exists.

I'm not suggesting that you adopt other religions, just that it costs nothing to honestly appreciate that which is beautiful, useful, or true in something that someone believes or does. After all, we do (I hope) want them to share in the even greater beauty of the kingdom. Nor is the idea without precedent in the Bible. I think there are several examples, but the one that comes to mind clearest is Paul's speech in Athens.

Something to think about, anyway.

 
At 2:56 PM, Blogger -tg2 said...

I started out responding to your comment and a bigger question came to mind...

How far away from a central truth that you hold to as part of your religion (frame) do you have to go before you find yourself in a different religion? I realize that a lot of the answer to that question depends on what that central truth is and which direction you're going -- in addition to their being a pan-dimensional (THHGTTG) concept or relationships between the tenets of your faith. But... fold that concept into a one dimensional graph (think Lorentz attractor) and you have an idea of where I'm headed with it.

I'm going to have to explore this idea further... what did I do with that bailing-wire and bubble-gum?

 

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