Dynamically Static.

     A book was just recently published about tough questions kids ask about Christianity. During an interview about the book, the author spoke on how he wanted to help parents not have a “deer in the headlights” look when their kids asked something and they didn’t know the answer. He rushed to say that no one has all the answers, but we should be willing to find the answers with our children.
     I think the entire premise of this book is what is wrong with Christianity today. The book, due to its format, is a static description of what we think the answers are at this moment in our history and culture. While there may be some absolutes (see: “Just Love”) that we should all agree on, there was a time when some of the principles we see as bedrock now, were absolute rubbish; and vice versa. Christ illustrated this throughout scripture when he condemned the pompous and proud Pharisees. They were so sure they had all the answers, they were no longer willing to be wrong. Their answers had become their god, so God could no longer be their answer.
     An alternative to static, rigid, unchanging answers is that, instead, we teach process. However, this manner of education is a double edged sword and we must be aware of this as we wield it. What I suggest is that we discover what the core process(es) of Scripture are. According to Scripture, loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength is the greatest commandment, and the second is like it; love your neighbor as yourself. For all the laws and prophets hinge upon those two commands. Both of those commands hinge on our ability to love. That seems to assume that we should be figuring out what it means to love and how we know when we are being loving. In other words: What do we do and how do we know we’re doing it?
     The laws of Scripture have never been, nor will they ever be, the path to salvation. Scripture says this, not me (Rom. 8:3-6). The process that is at the core of Scripture is to love. If this is the case, then when our children ask about the Trinity, the covenant, politics, abortion, gay marriage, or anything else, why not join them in discovering what the most loving thing is? In order to do this, however, we must be honest with ourselves and brace for the day when we follow this process and it leads us to doubt what we believe to be right or wrong.
     My parents generation fought against racism. Their parents fought against sexism. Their grandparents fought to against slavery. Our generation is fighting for equality. But here’s the thing, and it’s something we must not forget as we age: Each generation thought the previous was backward and needed to change. Each generation thought they were right. And each generation, for the most part, thought the one that came after them was forgetting their values. When we begin to walk this path with ourselves, our children, our parents, we may not always like where it takes us. But if we spend the time to discover what it really means to be loving (something I’ll talk about in my next post), and judge our actions by that standard, we will begin to live out the lives and actions to which Christ called us.  
     What do you think? Is it better to have “the answer” and tell our children what is right, or should we take the chance of them coming to the “wrong” conclusions and being mislead? There are risks to either choice, so which risk is the most severe?

Subjectivity & Truth, & the Moon.

“Subjectivity is truth.” ~Soren Kierkegaard

     Probably one of the least understood quotes of Kierkegaard. The most common interpretation is that all truth is relative. However, this goes directly against what Kierkegaard was trying to say. What it means is that people can only know what they know. Seems redundant, but it’s true. Brian Regan actually makes a joke about this that may illuminate the point I’m hoping to make.
     There have been times when I was discussing my frustrations, hurt, or experience with someone. That someone then takes it upon themselves to trivialize my experience as “less than” because their experience was so much worse, greater, or better than mine. I believe Regan references how often this happens when people are talking about getting their wisdom teeth removed. See the video below after the jump. Somehow, everyone feels some compulsion to one-up the previous story. These often start with phrases like: “You think that’s bad?” and “Well, you haven’t experienced…”. While I’m all for good natured fish stories, there are some areas that are sacred.
     My daughter, at three years old, was nearly certain that the world would implode because she wasn’t going to get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner last night. Initially, I thought about how silly and petty her frustration was. Then, I remembered; in her subjective world, tomorrow is not a real thing! Time doesn’t work for a three year old the same as it does for adults. I still remember being about five and my mom telling me dinner would be ready in three hours and me thinking, “three hours? That’s it! I’m a goner and she doesn’t even care! She’s not even sweating and she’s talking to a dead man. A dead man that’s dead because she wouldn’t feed him!” This left me in a bit of a bind because my daughter needs to understand that when the family eats, she eats. We don’t make her special food. Life doesn’t work like that. On the other hand, should I risk minimizing her experience of stress by saying there are starving children in Africa?
     Just because someone else had it worse, doesn’t mean whatever your current experience isn’t the worst for you. This is where Brian Regan points out how difficult it could be to have a friendship with someone who’s walked on the moon. I mean, what story could you possibly have that would top, “I walked on the moon!”? None. There isn’t one!
     We must allow others to experience their pain as they are experiencing it and attempt to see it from their view. Entering into their experience, their subjectivity, may require us to set aside out own judgments about the severity of their story and identify with this: This may be the worst they have ever experienced. It doesn’t matter if we’ve walked on the emotional equivalent of the moon and see their struggle as a triffle. What matters is that it matters to them. And that’s all it should take to matter to us.

(c) Nathan D. Croy. 2013