I have three pets. There is, Toby, the Hyper-Beagle; there is a bunny, Mr. Snuggles, and a white dove named Angel, who is twenty-four years old. The dog has free reign of the house (as well as of the humans!), but Mr. Snuggles lives in a 10’ by 6’ pen and Angel is in a cage. Angel’s cage is small, but she never complains. For years, she has lived in this small cage with two perches and some toys. Every day, she sings, and it is a beautiful, soothing sound. She also laughs and barks like a dog…welcome to my world!
The cage is small, but she is completely content and happy. We sometimes open the door to her cage to see if she will fly out, but she never does. She is content to safely remain in that cage, even though we have plenty of room for her to fly around if she wished. Her cage is all she needs, all she has ever had, and all she will ever need, from her point of view.
Many Conservative American Evangelicals are stuck in the tiny cages of their limited beliefs. I know this because I was one of them for so long. The Bible was more than enough for me. If someone said that God had done something in their life that I could not confirm with scripture, I simply rejected it, and them. My spiritual beliefs were gathered over a thirty-year period. I worked hard to get and keep them. For a long time, no one could ask me theological questions or engage in discussion with me because I was unmovable in my conservative beliefs and perceptions. I lost friends and estranged loved ones because of my arrogance. I had my small, fundamentalist cage and everything I needed. I was not coming out of it. I was perfectly content and safe in there. I deconstructed all of that after discovering new and better information that altered my beliefs.
Conversely, Mr. Snuggles, the bunny, has no problem at all stepping out of his cage when we open the gate. He jumps around and around, looking for new things to explore (and power cords to chew). He isn’t at all afraid to step out of his familiar environment and take in all that surrounds him.
In recent years, I have read books, attended seminars, webinars, and conferences to gather new and better information about faith, energy, and enlightenment. Slowly, I started venturing out of my conservative cage and exploring my own thoughts. I began to question the precepts which I had once held on to so tightly. I met with people from other world religions and even made a few friends. I attended churches from other cultures, denominations, and faith histories. A couple of them even had me come and speak. I was treated better by them than I ever was in any of my former churches!
I was shifting my perception and opening myself to new and better information.
Our perception of God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Heaven, Hell, Homosexuality, Marriage, Divorce, and Morality is what it is because it has always looked that way and it made perfect sense. These insights have been passed down for generations and indoctrinated into believers everywhere. Church history is replete with people who challenged the popular beliefs of their day. Some were hanged, imprisoned, and exiled. For what? For shifting their faith perceptions based on new and more accurate information. Reformations and revivals happened as people began to see that God is much bigger than their mental cages will ever allow Him to be! They opened their mental cage doors and courageously ventured out. It changed the world! Let’s take a quick trip down under.
The Australian Jewel Beetle is brown, dimpled, and glossy. Only the male can fly, and he does just that, looking for a mate. Female beetles are larger than the males, and don’t fly. Mating occurs on the ground. The female beetle has a large, shiny brown body covered in dimples. A male flying in search of a mate will scan the ground below him, looking for a shiny brown object with a dimpled surface. And therein lies the problem.
The beetles almost went extinct some time ago. Males were flying and landing on a brown, dimpled, and glossy object of their affections and mating. The problem was that they were landing on brown, dimpled, glossy discarded bottles of beer in the outback. In order to preserve the Australian Jewel Beetle, Australia had to literally change the color of their beer bottles from brown to white to save this species. It is the quintessential story of men leaving women for the bottle!
The male only saw the gloss, the brown, and the dimples. It never occurred to him that he had mated with an inanimate object. Furthermore, the male risks being devoured by ants or drying up in the sun, still trying his hardest to please his false “partner.” He was instinctively drawn to the familiar color and texture. Even while crawling all over the bottle, he could not discover his mistake. Likewise, our human instinct is to see what we want to see. To perceive what we wish to perceive, based on what we know and trust because it makes perfect sense to us. Is that so awful?
What if there is an alternative? Evolutionists postulate that we have natural intuitions to see only what we need to survive, rather than perceiving reality in its broader context. These evolutionary “hacks” exist to keep us safe and should be taken seriously.
“See that snake? Do not pick it up.”
“See that cliff? Do not jump off it.”
“See that hot oven? Do not touch it.”
These are perceptual symbols that God created us with to keep us safe and alive.
The problem is that, like the jewel beetle and my dove, we like our reality as we perceive it. We don’t like to admit we are wrong. But here’s the point: Once we let go of our stubbornly intuitive but massively false assumptions about the God and the Universe, we open ourselves to new ways to perceive life’s greatest mysteries. When we jettison our misinterpreted, incomplete, flawed perceptions and beliefs and choose to step outside the cages of our minds, we will begin to discover that reality is more fascinating and surprising than we’ve ever imagined.
This cognitive shift is the beginning of reconstruction. Reconstruction beckons us to surrender our long-held beliefs, mindsets, points of view, and opinions in favor of updated knowledge that leads to healthier attitudes and outcomes. Otherwise, like the Australian Jewel Beetle, we risk spiritual and mental extinction, or being devoured by the ants of our stubbornness.