Friday, April 15, 2005

reason and the bubble boy



tell your story? that's tough if you're afraid that people will miss what you're really trying to say.

being that i kind of grew up in the church bubble, i have always tried to avoid the testimonial approach to discussing spirituality... it is too easy for people to default to the 'well, that's easy for you to say- you've never lived' setting. this is arguably the main reason why the life of Christ was one frought with pain and poverty as well as purpose... that no one would be able to default easily to the 'well that's easy to say if you're God' setting.

i've always been more interested in talking about Jesus because, quite frankly, he's more interesting- at least that has been my official line. playing an introspective game of twenty questions in the last little while, however, has brought to light something surprising to me... and although i would passionately argue to the contrary, i think that a simple truth about me is that i really hate surprises. you see, when icarus posted an invitation for any and all to share their personal journey towards God, i had already been stalled for awhile on this one.

i mean, it's all different when somebody asks isn't it? it presumably means that they actually want to know because they feel that it will somehow benefit their own journey. well then i am at a bit of a loss because a lot of my own defaults in this regard are probably faulty. to get past the insecurity and the control issues that are tightly held at bay and just trust another person to handle with respect that which is vulnerable and personal is a real challenge for me. although i have known this about myself for most of my life, i don't think that i truly realized what a stranglehold it all has had on my 'personal witness' until icarus asked me a month or so ago how i came to faith. i wanted to answer; i just wanted to do so with more than a personal chronology and a flimsy attempt at tracing some cause and effect.

the fact in all this murky emotional disclosure is that i think i might have made the gospel about me somehow. i am afraid of somebody dismissing Jesus because of my failure to articulate, in terms of my own life, how he has made a difference. i am afraid that an attempt at sharing a spiritual testimonial will come off like a sloppy endorsement- like that lame commercial about some headache remedy that i recall from my childhood: "i'm not a doctor, but i play one on t.v...."

i think i am also afraid of being personally evaluated on the basis of my life's story because it's not really flashy. if i'm going to be a t.v. commercial, i'd much rather be the "i liked it so much that i bought the company" guy. well, eventually you have to just say 'get over yourself' and take a shot at conquering your own stuff, because ultimately the gospel will move forward through the world with or without your help and endorsement... it comes down to whether you want to be part of that movement.

so my faith journey? growing up as a christian kid, attending youth group, going to bible college, getting married to a girl i met at bible college, gaining a degree in education, being redirected in my calling after a few years to begin pursuing ministry as a pastor, blogging about God incessantly... yada yada yada- who cares?

however, God has spoken truth into my life a number of times using numerous languages and voices. whether it has been through a book that i've been reading or a film that has crashed in unexpectedly or a dream at night or a conversation with a friend or somebody's sermon or somebody else's blog, i find my journey redirected as regularly as i have my antennae up high enough to pick up the signal. i guess that i would be categorized as experiencial in my faith journey because i draw a lot of guidance from as many of life's experiences as i can keep track of, always going back to the bible and those with whom i walk closest for the ongoing affirmation or clarification that i need in order to somehow survive the decisions i've made claiming to have been by the inspiration of this God to whom i have dedicated my life's breath

an example is as recent as yesterday when i read something in a blogger profile that bumped me over to a spot where i decided to try to tackle this whole testimonial thing again.


  • Q: Your people want to make a statue in your honor. What will it be made out of and what victory will it commemorate?
  • A: It will be a generic man, portrayed realistically and ideally, commemorating the victory of reason over faith.

'the victory of reason over faith'?

later on that evening, i had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a computer engineer guy that plays a mean bass guitar. we were discussing modern man's propensity to explain things, to identify things, to define things, to categorize things and ultimately to assess value to things so that they may be clearly priorized on some continuum... like that radiohead song: everything in its right place.

everything in its right place?

this approach to life is hard for me to lock into because on most days my world feels like a pandimensional ven diagram of perpetually changing, formless, shapeless, brilliantly coloured smells which momentarily share time and space with an infinite number of other like, yet distinctively unlike ones before everything changes again a nanosecond later, never to be repeated exactly, although similarities may exist between this instant and that one ten millenia and several light years away. because of random precision and irrational numbers, the odds of repitition are undefinable... and i'm okay with that- it just makes communicating with my friends the logicians really difficult. i wish i could think in a straight line, but the reality is that i can only approximate it for a very short time before getting a headache. i have one now.

but could i claim the same thing for my statue: the victory of reason over faith? i wish i could delineate some hierarchical difference between the two in order to determine which one would win over the other in a footrace, but i can't and i think that the ability to do or not do that comes down to our hardwiring. the best i can do is try to have the two walk side by side on the same road, letting each other converse together without finishing each other's sentences. i have no reason to not have faith. my faith is strengthened by all of the things that i cannot explain, in that in the unexplainable is my wonder, my fuel and my joy and my worship- is raison d'etre the same as reason?

this life is a rich one and i probably shouldn't be so eager to apologize for that- as if roadwear brings credibility or something. pain builds character, sure, but my faith has hardly been an opiate to buffer me against prejudice, family tragedy, mortality, betrayal, broken dreams, financial stress or anything else. what faith does is give me reason to carry on, defaulting control of the things that are so outside of my scope to a personal deity who desires a relationship with me in spite of all the stuff of pretension and pride that i carry around with me wherever i go, so that i am free to attend to the smaller details of one life and how it can be lived in spirit and in truth.

well there's a treasure at the end of this narrow road I'm traveling
and it gives me a purpose for my life
Jesus is my treasure- he's the reason that I am living
and he's gonna be my reason when I die
(Gary Chapman: Treasure, 1994)
***
there are three amazing books that explore these themes far more articulately than i can:
Finding Faith by Brian D McLaren
A Reasonable Faith by Tony Campolo
A Case For Christ by Lee Strobel

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3 Comments:

Blogger Matthew said...

Nice post. I have read a book by Lee Strobel, I think it was called the Case for a Creator. He was pretty straight forward and I liked it.

I can't believe someone would want a tribute to the 'triumph of reason over faith' - like it could ever happen in the first place. Also, if there was no faith, that would mean that the human race as a collective whole would know everything. I doubt that day will ever come and those who think it will are both naive and ignorant.

For me, my faith in large part comes from using reason - if that makes sense. I look around and see autonomous, conscious beings. I then ponder the fact that random processes lead to disorder not order, and I think there had to have been supernatural intervention. I am an engineer, so maybe it's not a big surprise I think about the mechanics of things, but hey whatever floats my faith-boat right?

4/17/2005  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

yeah, lee strobel was an atheist and a writer or reporter or something for a chicago paper (tribune, i think) who decided to explore for himself this whole God thing to its logical conclusion. he ended up becoming a pastor at willow creek community church in barrington ill. and writing a bunch of books which are quite direct and readable.

he is adept at thinking in a straight line!

4/18/2005  
Blogger Icarus Goodman said...

Sorry for taking so long to reply, had a lot of school projects due. Anyway, I really appreciate you sharing your inner workings like this, it helps people understand where you are coming from on the whole go debate.

Matthew,

In reagards to the reason over faith statue, you're right it proabbly won't ever happen, at least not anytime soon (soon as in a couple thousand years). I disagre with you assertion that for reason to triumph, man must know everything.

Reason is not knowledge, it is a method of obtaining knowledge. It means looking at things objectivly, and using logic and evidence in order to understand phenomena. It's not always right. People can reason incorrectly, they might not have all the facts, etc. But, it is by far the best ethod we have for understanding the world in which we live.

Contrast that with faith, and by faith i mean that blind faith, where one believes i somthing for no reason, with no objective evidence to back him up, often they believe something to be true because they want it to be true, or fear it not being true. It is this blind faith that leads to so many trouble in the world.

I do not mean faith as in trust, like, i have faith that my friend won't murder me in my sleep. really, that's just a level of trust based on prior experience and logic and is completely in line with reason.

I find you to be a very reasonable person, most if not all of your positins you attempt to defend with reason, which I appaud you for, bu as I said earlier, reason is not infallible, and when it comes to god, i believe you have made a mistake somewhere in your reasoning process, which I hope to illuminate in the coming days. Either that, or i havemade a mistake, hopefull though dialogue we discover where any mistakes have been made, and hus come one step closer to the truth.

4/20/2005  

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