Thursday, September 21, 2006

Shelving My Closed Mind

Borders started teaching me how to shelve books yesterday. Each subject has a different method of shelving, so I quickly became overwhelmed by how many subjects there are. Tons of ideas exist out there.

My initial, fleshy reaction to this is one of intimidation. How can God convey himself to anyone in this swirl of thoughts and ideas? I find myself wanting people to read nothing but Christian fiction and the Bible so as not to be swayed by the numerous other ideas, theories, and subjects in the book store and the world.

But then, God's character comes forth and rebukes these wayward thoughts and the lack of faith of which they are evidence.

If I am going to believe in a God who claims to be the creator and who claims to be all-powerful, surely he is not afraid of an honest discussion of ideas. If people honestly seek to find purpose in life, to find God, surely the God who calls himself Truth will not be hidden by theories and purposes which are not him. The world often stereotypes Christians as close-minded and intolerant, which becomes supremely frustrating in this light. If we are going to believe in a God that is big and powerful and true beyond our comprehension, surely we should not be afraid to give everyone a voice and an ear. God will prove himself because of who he is.

So here's to open-mindedness and diversity. May I not be afraid of hard questions and differences. May I have faith that the all-powerful God of Truth will protect his character and love his children. If we are honestly asking and looking, he will find us.


Jenn Pappa said...

ooooh fun topic. I think this is particularly appealing to me because I majored in journalism and a huge portion of journalism is understanding the American view of free press.

One piece of work that contributed to our ideas of a free press was from John Milton's Areopagitica. Milton argued for what we now call "the open market place of ideas." This idea is based on the belief that individuals can reason to the point of recognizing truth. Milton believed that the only way for individuals to recognize this truth is to be able to see every view point and idea out there. When people argue with each other, the good arguments will prevail ("man sharpens man like iron sharpens iron").
Anyways, my point is that you are a young Milton and that’s a good thing, he was brilliant.

The problem however, is that there will never be a full view of every idea for each individual and the assumption that good will always prevail is merely an assumption. As stated in a previous blog entry, people don't always rely on reason to make their decisions.

So alas, Milton is quite an idealist. I agree with his argument that there should be a free flow of ideas because that does increase our understanding. I also believe we should first question our ideals and then try our best to fight for the ideals we continue to believe good to become reality. Therefore, I believe in a free press and in learning to think with reason, despite emotion.

Jeff said...

I agree, great topic....

First thing that comes to mind is the old Sonicflood worship album. I wish I could remember the exact quote, but it went something like this "God is not afraid of you seeking, He is confident that if you look hard enough you will find him."

A friend of mine from college was very into liberal theology. One of these that really made me think was Schleirmacher. His basic thesis was that all religions and things contain some amount of God, in other words, God reveals himself in all things (sounds like our conversation yesterday on IM).

In my personal opinion, there is value to be found in all things. And if you believe God to be who HE SAYS HE IS, then you should have nothing to worry about in looking around.

I have a lot to say on this topic, but it might take me some time to properly formulate...these were just some quick tidbits.

Tammy O said...

When he stood before Pontius Pilate, Jesus said that he was here to bear witness to the truth. Pilate then asked his infamous question, "What is truth?" Man has been asking this question for as long as the truth has been obscured, which is since the Fall. However, most people do not really want to know what the truth is. They will listen to whoever tells them what they want to hear. "I believe this is truth because this is what I want to be truth."
That said, we should absolutely be taking in other people's ideas, 1)because, as Jeff said, there are usually elements of truth in everything and 2)our primary reason, in order to "always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you."
Part of being prepared is knowing what ideas are out there. Maybe you read something that challenges your faith that you never thought about before. You go to the scripture and you ask God to show you his truth. Thus, your own faith is strengthened through testing, your understanding is deepened, and when the matter comes up in conversation you will be prepared to defend your faith. So the other side of being prepared is studying the word and being in communion with God.
And of course, open discussion with believers is a great source of learning. God teaches us all different things at different times, so someone else may have a better understanding of something than I do and can share with me what God has shown them.

Oakley said...

Glad that you have such a zen for others to experience Christ as you have and will. As a Biology major, huge fan of science fiction writing, and believer I often feel lost in transition. Most hardcore science minded folks refuse to acknowledge God in their lives and most mainstream Christians seem to show no desire to experience God through study of the natural world. I was constantly amazed at the level of complexity of life and all that we have been given by studying Biology in college, and I cannot see how anyone could be blind to God's hand in this. Lots of science fiction writing deals mainly with religion and the lack/prescence of God in fictional realities. It never fails to keep me testing boundaries to reaffirm and strengthen faith. Since I haven't really taken the plunge into many (any??) christian works of literature that you speak of, I'd love to hear some good suggestions for a 20-something guy outta college.

Tammy O said...

Yea for biology majors!
There is definitely much spiritual truth illustrated in nature. Andrew Murray said, "All earthly things are shadows of heavenly realities." (The True Vine) So true!
What kind of writing are you looking for? Fiction, biography, christian living, etc.?

katie said...

Non christians are just as closed minded ben, this is my reluctant confesstion that I was weary of you for a really long time and would have been friends with you a lot sooner if I could have gotten over the fact that you were at the koa with something that had the word ministry in it. I've also thrown away a cd before because I didn't know that evanescence was secretly christian music. My fear of that kind of stuff basically comes from the fact that I was really good friends with a girl with a super christian family when I was young and her parents basically told me I was going to I was ten and I always am afraid people who are jonesin' for jesus are goign to end up rejecting me...