This is the thirteenth and final entry in the Christian round of the 2012 Ideological Turing Test for Religion. In this round, the honest answers of Christians are mixed in with atheists’ best efforts to talk like Christians. It’s your job to see if you can spot the difference. The voting link appears at the end of the entry, and you can look at all entries in this round here.
When (if ever) have you deferred to your philosophical or theological system over your intuitions?
I was raised in the church, and have continued to be active in church including attending seminary and pastoring congregations. I always have been and am still being shaped theological communities and their practices.
Perhaps it is this. A few of my less admirable characteristics: I have a temper, a strong sense of self-righteousness, and an over-developed sense of guilt. I have learned through many years and many people, including historic church figures, my own teachers, and those I walk with today, to have HEALTHY understanding of humility. Humility is simply recognizing that God loves everyone else just as much as God loves me. And that God loves me just as much as God loves everyone else.
So my theological mentors have taught me about grace,
- grace for others when they are wrong (being self-righteous I know I’m always right – lol),
- grace for myself when I fall short of my own expectations, or those of the church, or God, or Jesus, or my neighbors etc.
In short, I have learned from the church to forgive, accept forgiveness, let go, and make something new and good of each day. This does not come to me naturally.
Are there people whose opinions on morality you trust more than your own? How do you recognize them? How is trusting them different than trusting someone’s opinion on physics?
Even Jesus, fully human and fully divine, with a unique, incarnational relationship with God, did not have supernatural knowledge. Our limits are a part of what it means to be fully human, even for Jesus. There is no one I would trust more than myself, and me, not much. Someone said “We’re all *** and God loves us anyway.”
I value deeply conversation with others. I am currently a part of clergy group that is insightful and diverse, and therefore is able to discuss issues from a variety of perspectives. I grew up working in hay fields with a conservative Mennonite family – no tv, homemade clothes, separate schools, literal understanding of the Bible, full of love and grace.
We just had a youth perform as Sandy is a school production of Grease. It was amazing. That cast has decided they would not want to do Grease again, because they do not approve of the underlying message. Talk about moral thoughtfulness, they seem worth listening too. These are some of the people whose thoughts I would value.
Knowledge gained through theoretical propositions that can be tested and eventually proven true or false (at the very least statistically) through experimental testing is a different than Wisdom that is discerned through attentiveness to experience and relationships (spiritual, human, and with the natural world).
Science and philosophy each lead to both facts and wisdom. Is science the pursuit of facts that may give rise to Wisdom? Is theology the pursuit of God’s wisdom that may give rise to testable, verifiable facts?
Can you name any works of art (interpreted pretty broadly: books, music, plays, poetry, mathematical proofs, etc) which really capture the way you see life/fill you with a sense of awe and wonder? You can give a short explanation or just list a few pieces.
I could talk about this all day. I will stick to pop music because it is a legacy I received from a theological mentor among others.
John Mellencamp – from my teenage years till now
- Scarecrow album about struggles of American family farm life that I was watching and experiencing
Van Morrison – Irish blue-eyed soul
- And It Stoned Me
- Bright Side of the Road
- Be Thou My Vision (yes, the hymn)
- Full Force Gale
- Crazy Love, Into the Mystic, Moondance…..
Bob Dylan – nuf said?
- Forever Young
- Make You Feel My Love
- The Times They Are a Changin’, Blowin’ in the Wind
Guy Clark – Texas singer-song writer
- Boats to Build
- Let Him Roll
- The Randall Knife
- The Cape
Indigo Girls – springing from deep religious heritage, uber-talented, engaged activists
- Hammer and a Nail
- Closer to Fine
- Shame on You
The world is full of God’s presence and God’s call expressed in many ways. The question is, do we have ears to hear, and are we willing to reach out and touch the holy.