Beginning from the End

We begin so many conversations from the end; from our conclusions. I find this to be unhelpful both when we agree and when we disagree. When we agree we assume the journey that was travelled was either the same or very similar…this, of course, allows us to swim in very shallow waters. The second problem with this is that the underlying fundamental belief that brought us (or, at the least, was our foundation) to our conclusion(s) may be diametrically opposed and therefore our conclusions are incompatible with each other!

What, then, with ones we are in disagreement? The inherent danger is that to argue backwards from differing conclusions is that it is nearly impossible to make an argument (convincingly) from a premise that the other sees as fundamentally flawed.

So, then, where do we begin? I would argue that we must begin at the last place that we found mutual footing (keeping in mind the problem with agreeing from above), this becomes our common ground that we can at any moment return in order to reorient or return to civility.

Today, we are inundated with memes, sloganeering, and bumper stickers that contain polemic conclusions and no effort to help bring about understanding and mutual appreciation for the other’s view, intellect, and lifelong experience. The danger of anonymity today also plays into this..we are able to lay in wait, unseen in the fringes of the internet’s forest – sniper rifle raised just waiting to fire upon those whom you oppose. No chance for them to confront their assailant.

I recently came across a statement that we must be reminded that even though we do the vast majority of communicating with others through machines, gadgets, and objects –> we truly are interacting with subjects! (See Martin Buber’s I and Thou for a great treatise on the importance of others as subjects!)

The great tragedy of our day is that we have so many ways to communicate with each other…we’ve lost the appreciation of that time. Flippancy and shortness rule the day…gone are the days of handwritten notes and other thoughtful discourse. Text messages, tweets, Facebook status updates – these are the things that line our shallow shores.

So let’s start from the beginning – let’s start from a place of mutual adoration and appreciation for the other’s views. Respecting one another and treating them as humans and not objects to be discarded. Maybe then we’ll get some place a bit deeper and more meaningful.

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What is the point of biblical literacy amongst the congregants of the church?

Soren Kierkegaard made a fascinating statement. He said, “The problem with Christendom is that, as fishers of men, we have made the holes in our nets too small.”

What a strange statement. Isn’t being ‘caught up’ in our faith meant to be easy? Kierkegaard’s argument implies that we allow for ‘any-size’ to be ‘caught’ –> Therefore folks that are ‘caught-up’ in Christendom become stunted and never ‘need’ to get ‘bigger’ in order to be ‘caught.’ So where is the problem with this?

First let me say that I don’t believe that Kierkegaard is implying that those with a simple faith lack salvation — rather in the way we do church we allow ‘little’ to be enough.

How do I explain this without upsetting, you, the reader?

I would liken Kierkegaard’s statement to today’s more understood cliche of ‘remaining on the milk of your mother’ –> at some point you must be weened off in order to grow, remain healthy, and (even) survive. ~ The church on the other hand has created a culture that allows one to remain on the breast of the faith. (Kierkegaard pointed this out in the church well over 100 years ago) Worse, even, is that many churches, in my opinion, are designed in such a way as to keep you there – or – at the very least to make it difficult to move on to better healthier eating habits.

So, how has this hurt the church?

I would argue that it has reduced our ability to have intelligent conversations regarding our faith and lifestyle; reducing us into sniveling children treating our conversations as if someone just took our favorite toy.

Like a child we know only a few intelligible words/sentences (read::verses) and mostly we don’t even know where we learned them, or worse, how to properly use them in context.

When was the last time reasoning worked with a toddler?

Imagine having a literary discussion with a child who can’t read and has only had ‘Golden Books’ read to them. Pastors, typically, are instructed to preach between a 5th and 7th grade level. I would argue that most sermons are not even that complex.

Is this how we ‘equip’ our faithful to be a witness to the Messiah? Treat, teach, and train them to be toddlers while telling them to be an example to adults…Why isn’t this working?

I recently asked my son (9yo) a question about Star Wars – to which he did not know the answer. Instead of expressing that he “did not know” he made up a fairly believable answer – that was wrong! Children are afraid of ‘not knowing’ something…especially about something they love and cherish! Many ‘milk dependent’ Christians are the same way, afraid to say “I don’t know” especially when speaking to someone that is not a part of the faith. Does a child making up an answer ever seem ‘trustworthy’ for life changing decisions?

[This is part of my daily 250 word discipline to help my writing process…but I’d love to hear your thoughts!]