NOTE: I have to ask my vermicompost readers to bear with me a little bit here. The disability I fight with sometimes manages to mess me up as to exactly what day it is, and I completely missed the fact that it was Friday today, so I didn’t get the next Vermicomposting article ready. I shall, however, slide it into the next slot which is immediately following this one which I have just posted, so that means I will publish it tomorrow, Saturday night, at Midnight. Sorry about the delay. Brian.
I can’t help but shake my head when I encounter people who think because I identify myself as a Christian, that I believe I have all the answers to all of life’s greatest questions, or that I somehow, for whatever reason, now look down on those who are atheistic in their views, are agnostic, or are followers of another faith. I shake my head because nothing could be further from the truth, and the entire idea is not only bizarre, but totally ludicrous to my way of thinking. Even stranger is the idea that my Christianity somehow has neutralized any intelligence that I was ever graced with in my life, that every last thought I now have is centered on singing hymns, or reciting scriptures, and all my energies are spent devising subtle ways of converting unsuspecting others over to my way of thinking. Again, these things are not even in the ballpark of truth that I try so hard to play in.
The nearest I can come to expressing unto you the truth of why I am a Christian is to tell you that for 40-45 years I have been searching for the truth as to what exactly is the reason for this existence that surrounds me, and of which I am part. I am also seeking the truths concerning all kinds of other questions regarding myself, the world around me, and whether or not there is even more that I simply cannot yet see, but which may be interacting with that which is visible much in the same way as atoms and such interact with us all the time even though we can’t see them. I want to know why we are here, and I want to know if there is a “there”. A “there” that is active in my life right now, or that will become active at a later date, and is there something I should be doing to prepare for it.
Believe it or not, these are not crazy questions. They are questions that have been asked by many people before me, and many people before myself spent their entire lives searching for the same answers that I now find myself looking for. Some people used drugs in their search. Some used mysticism, and still others, like myself, thought the answers lay in religion. When the medicine men in the old aboriginal tribes here in North America, or in Australia, or Africa, went on Vision Quests, they were basically doing the same thing as a Muslim or a Christian is doing when they pray. The methods may be different, but the results they were seeking were pretty much the same. Each of them were trying to make contact with what they considered to be their Higher Power, a being, or perhaps a sentient Force, from whom or which some of their questions might receive answers.
These days I identify myself as a Christian because at this juncture in my search for these answers, Christianity has supplied me with a far greater number of suitable answers to more of my questions than any other discipline that I have looked into over the years. That is not to say that Christianity has given me all the answers, or that I haven’t received some very suitable answers from many other areas, especially science, which has answered many questions for me throughout my life-time. It is for that reason that I often want to laugh when people talk to me like I’m anti-science or something. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve also found some good solid answers, as well as comfort (something else that is very important) in Buddhism, in the Koran, in the writings of Confucius, as well as many others, including Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Bruce Springsteen. And we mustn’t forget that like anyone else who loves to write, I have a voracious appetite for reading, everything from novels, to Blogs, to your Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman. And I’ve managed to find answers to at least some questions, some big, some small, in just about everything (it really is there if you look).
The other thing that so many people seem to miss that again makes me shake my head is that I’m not brainwashed. I do question my faith, and I think everyone should. I know Christians who seem to think its a sin to admit to a little doubt about one’s salvation, or to ever question anything that their pastor, or another member of their congregation has ever said. I personally think this is a very dangerous position. To start with, if you are having doubts about your salvation, and you deny it, you might fool your friends, and you might fool yourself, but do you really think you can fool your Creator. So what’s the point. I think it’s better to admit it, and talk it out with Him. He likes talking to His children, and children do have doubts from time to time about whether their parents love them. So talk it out, and let Him reassure you. I’m very serious when I say that I have this problem constantly. Maybe it’s the PTSD, or maybe it’s something else, but usually, if I talk to Him about it, it works itself out.
The other thing, questioning the Bible, or your church elders, that’s something that a lot of Christians I know would have a hard time doing, and that’s the result of the way they were brought up. Growing up on my own saved me from that kind of deep ingrained conditioning. I question things, and I think if anything is stirring up your soul enough that it’s causing you discomfort, then questioning it is certainly alright. The idea is to search, and find God. You can’t find anything if you don’t ask for clarification when something is confusing to you. So if you find something puzzling you when you’re reading your Bible, question it, dig into it, compare it to other Scripture, check out some reference books, a commentary or two. I find the old Church Fathers seemed to have a special kind of wisdom. Look up Charles Spurgeon just for starters, he usually has something good to say.
But anyway, like I said, for myself it’s a search. A search for truth, and now that I’m home full-time, the search has gotten somewhat more intense, and that means the questioning has gotten more intense right along with it. For instance, all this writing has made me curious once more about a particular question that really is hard to find a clear answer about either in the Bible itself, or in the many study books that are available to anyone who chooses to use them (my theological library contains just under 1500 books). The question has to do with whether there are certain people chosen for salvation, and others who, for whatever reason, simply have no chance whatsoever, to be saved. It’s certainly not a popular question as I’m sure you can see, and I’m not about to offer any views as to what my personal opinion on the topic is at this exact time in my studies. The fact is, the Christian Bible does have certain sections in it that deal with a subject know as “predestination“, and some Christians use these sections to argue that only a fixed number of people have any right to expect salvation after they die. Just as many, or even more Christians, argue that the first batch of Bible students are interpreting the Scriptures wrong, and everyone has a right to the same reasonable expectation of salvation after death. Like I said, a very touchy topic, but exactly the type of thing a serious seeker after the truth is going to come up against in his/her quest for enlightenment. There are just as many, if not more, tough questions than easy ones, so seriously hunting for answers to life’s biggest questions is not for people who like their meals spoon-fed.
When an individual comes up to me after finding out that I’m a Christian and states in his/her best self-righteous tone of voice, “Well , if your God really did exist, how could He let little babies die of horrible diseases?”, I have to wonder if he/she really doesn’t realize that as a serious student of the Bible, and an honest seeker of truth, that I’ve considered that exact question, and perhaps shed tears over it, possibly a hundred times in my life or more, and the main difference between the person who asked me the question and myself is that they are, perhaps unintentionally, minimizing the utter horror of the very question that they’re asking because they really aren’t looking for an answer to the question, they just want to win an argument, or stump the guy who has such gall as to believe in something they have likely never even tried to understand, and I have done my best to strain my feeble human brain in an insane attempt to try and understand the thought processes of a Being, Who if He exists, has thinking processes so superior to mine, that there is nothing on Earth so small and insignificant that I could fairly complete that statement by comparing my thought processes to it.
But anyway, I will continue to struggle, and I will continue to question, because the truth is out there somewhere, and I will, hopefully, one day find my piece of it. I think that’s all I can really hope for, and I don’t think anyone can ever hope for anything more. At least not until this physical world is through. We can search, those of us who are moved to do so, and some of us will eventually be somewhat successful in that we will reach a point where we will know something more than what we began with. I don’t mean the mundane things, we all learn some of that, but what I’m getting at is more like that one idea that changes the individual. Like Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas had this amazing life. He was loved by many, and ridiculed by many. Pretty much exiled by the Roman Catholic Church, and then years after his death, the Roman Catholic Church is in many ways based on his teachings. He wrote a bunch of amazing books. Then a short while before he died Thomas Aquinas stopped talking…to anyone. He laid in his bed apparently, and said nothing. Until just before he died, when on his deathbed, he uttered one last thing. The last words Thomas Aquinas spoke were, “It’s all straw.” I think that’s the truth that Thomas Aquinas discovered in his lifetime. I don’t know what he meant, but hopefully Thomas did.
The Bubble Bursts
The darkness crowding just outside
The safety of this fragile light
That I once thought God did provide
So He could keep me in His sight.
I hear the bubble flex and bend
I hear it crack and crack again
I failed once more I know not when
And now the darkness rushes in.
The one I fear is on the loose
To fight and rage is of no use
I’ve fought him time and time again
I only know I cannot win.
The Lord’s the only one who can
Thwart the plan’s of that old man
But first He needs all of my heart
For I must also do my part.
If what I need is true belief
Why do I never find relief
Lasting longer than a day
What must I do to make it stay?
Is there more than I’ve been told
Lost in the dust and days of old
Am I His or am I not
Am I truly loved by God?
I know that He has never lied
His only Son He gave to die
For those He chose to call His own
But are there some He chose not to know?
If in that number I belong
Then nothing’s right and nothing’s wrong
My life is simply what it is
For I was never truly His.
I walk this world but I am dead
These are not thoughts within my head
But lines of code which I obey
And scripted words these things I say.
This heart is not my own to give
This life is not my own to live
No gift will ever come to me
For no machine is ever free.
So dangling right before my eyes
The Words of One Who does not lie
Tell of Paradise to come
Available to everyone.
To everyone who heard the call
To everyone who took the Fall
To everyone who will believe
His promise that they will be free.
But in the background filling space
Like a rock or like a tree
Try to see we who are lost
And shed one gracious tear for me.
There we go, another day. Its been real wet, and even a little cold out this way, so I hope things are a little better wherever you all find yourselves as everyone starts getting ready for the holidays. Keep it safe, stay warm, and we’ll be reading you all soon. Until then…