The Walk

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Let’s get something straight, I have trust issues. There are two ways to look at my distrust. Maybe I trust only myself, or perhaps it’s only myself that I distrust. Why do I worry as I drive through town? Is it the other people’s lack of focus, or lack of skill that I distrust? Or merely my own ability to react quickly and correctly to their actions? They both lead to the same symptoms of behavior. So in the interest of taking the responsibility on myself, we’ll make this my inability to trust others.

As a child, I was raised under a “Christian” roof. Specifically the Assembly of God variety. Let me state first and foremost that I’m generally put off by the whole concept of “religion.” I find that religions are simply groups of beliefs that have been categorized for the benefit of self propagation. I have a hard time with this because it limits the ability to be truthful about what you believe. I’d like to believe this, but I’m a Baptist. Maybe if I weren’t Catholic I could believe that. What if the “this’s” or “that’s” are the only things standing between absolute truth and ignorance? I also find that this subdividing of beliefs usually doesn’t lead to any kind of interpersonal harmony. Sure on a small scale it might make me feel better about you because we go to the same place of worship. So surely we’re more alike than not, and surely that helps us fit in with each other comfortably. If reading religious texts has taught me anything, it is that most of the major religions don’t favor comfort. I can’t remember any wise proverbs about how becoming comfortable gets one closer to attaining any semblance of holiness or truth or wisdom or enlightenment.

Perhaps this is where the roots of my disappointment, confusion, anger, and fear can be found. There are so many things that we all stumble across in life that beg a countless number of questions to be asked. Most of these questions go unanswered. So which religion is the real deal? I have studied all of the more established religions of the world to find an answer that I could trust. Ultimately I seek truth. {John 8:32} This is a tricky quest, especially when you have trust issues. To add another level of difficulty to this quest is my tendency to favor a simplistic black or white view of life. Shades of gray have no place in my quest. Shades of gray are nothing more than degrees of justification for those who can’t handle truth. Since truth is what I’m searching for, gray is out. Whereas I view the Heinz 57 varieties of every major religion, usually termed “sects” or “denominations,” as nothing short of shades of gray, my view of these should fast become apparent. Despite all this, I have come to a certain set of beliefs that I hold to.

As some might suspect, this set of beliefs don’t fit comfortably under any particular religion’s umbrella. I believe that there is a certain amount of truth in each and every holy book. The problem I have is that I find more than a fair share of outright bologna in most of them as well. As one who enjoys philosophy, I far too often find myself following some random goat path to nowhere. I am constantly reminding myself to keep on subject. That said, forgive me if I stray in my attempt to literate the set of beliefs that I hold myself to.

God? This is where my quest begins. I believe in a God who is first and foremost, unlimited in any and every way. This lends to such philosophical puzzles as “Can God create a rock so large that He can not lift it,” and the like. These puzzles stem from the basic truth that people are limited, and we can’t wrap our heads around anything that isn’t. Right from the get‐go we have a bit of a dilemma. In order to continue beyond this, we have to come to the understanding that even our language and its ability to discuss the limitless is itself limited. As God is unlimited, several of the nit‐picky questions that arise can be easily and summarily dismissed. Is God a man or a woman? Is God a force, a spirit, a being? God can’t be boxed in by such questions. God is God, period. By definition, unlimited. {1 Timothy 6:16}

Creation or Evolution? I believe that evolution is a process created by an unlimited God. Only an unlimited God could create anything from nothing. God created all that we know, experience, and feel. {Genesis 1:1-2:3, Colossians 1:16} God put limits on it all as well. I am very comfortable living and thinking in a world with limits, or rules, or laws. Whether I enjoy being limited or not, I tend to favor limits and the order they bring. I once spoke to a man who was, incidentally, in a mental facility at the time, whose mind was not bound by this acceptance of such limits. He would not expect a ball that he threw up into the air to slow down, stop briefly, and then return back to his hand. He told me that he was in no position to decide what limits were in effect at any given point in time, and therefore the ball could at some point, continue off into space. He said that probability was not equal to rule. This man’s perspective fascinates me to this day, however I still expect the ball to come back to my hand, or at least back down to earth if my ability to throw or catch said ball is in question. We have limits everywhere around us. From the self imposed limits of public dress codes, to limits like gravity. We even have names for various groups of limits. Names like physics, mathematics, law, etiquette, and religion. We tend to focus a lot of energy and attention finding all the limits, measuring them, trying to escape them, and when we get desperate, even making up some of our own. I can’t buy into any religion that preaches that we are all one cumulative entity that is expressed in various essences. Usually this “entity” is what I would call God, and we are all the “essences” or “expressions” of the “entity.” Although this is a fascinating concept to think through, I have a hard time believing that I am, or any other human is at root, “entity” or God. I think if any of us were God, we’d figure out how to reach parts of our own planet that still remain unexplored, or how to practically apply string theory and travel through time, or how to get our kids to obey us the first time we ask, or keep a hard shell taco in one piece after the first bite.

Birth, Death, Neither, or Both? What happened to “me” before I was born, and what will happen to “me” after I die? Many holy texts speak of experiences pre and post our current experience called life. I feel that these questions fall right back into the categories of “limited” vs. “unlimited.” God, unlimited. Everything else, limited. I believe that “me” existed prior to my entrance into this life {Jeremiah 1:5}, and I think that “me” will exist after my exit {Job 14:14}. I know that this current expression of “me” exists in a world with specific, and recognized limits. I don’t subscribe to the belief that “me” was ever, or will ever, become unlimited in nature, or God. Therefore any possible pre‐ or post‐life “me” experience would also be limited in nature. There are similarities between the various holy texts regarding pre‐ and post‐life experience. After I pick which version seems most viable, I can start to narrow down what limits might plague a pre or post‐life “me.” I’m more interested in whether or not it is even relevant to the current life “me.” Perhaps if I could recall or had record of what experiences the pre‐life “me” encountered, I could use that to help guide my current life “me” in the right direction. Unfortunately I don’t recall my own entry into this current life experience, much less anything previous to it. That coupled with the fact that I have trust issues, makes it doubtful that I would rely on anyone else to have recorded it for me. That only leaves the post‐life “me” to discuss. Here I tend to lean toward the Judaeo‐Christian concepts of Heaven and Hell {Romans 2:7-8}. I’m amazed how little detail there is of either of these places in holy texts, as compared to the amount of detail we tend to write in ourselves. The basic concept is that Heaven is very close to unlimited goodness, whereas Hell is very close to unlimited badness. The obvious choice here is Heaven. Some seem to believe that Heaven will be perfection. I’ll have to jump ship here and say that I equate perfection with unlimited. Since God is unlimited, and Heaven is not God, Heaven can’t be unlimited. I tend to imagine that the Heaven experience is the next level for “me.” Not unlimited, but rather less limits, or at least a different set of limits. A new game, with new rules {Hebrews 7:11-13}. And before you ask, I’m not concerned with the new rules of the new game, just like an infant isn’t concerned with the new rules of calculus.

Holy Trinity? This one gets fun. The Bible says that God (remember that unlimited part here) has three personages, commonly referred to as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three personages combine to form the Trinity. {1 John 5:7-8} This is something that makes no sense to people. How can this be? Simple. God is unlimited. However we can’t help but try to fit this unlimited concept into our limited understanding and explain it with our limited vocabulary. I’ve heard this concept destroyed by the best of theologian, so I’ll try to make it simple. Think about water. Water can be a solid, or a liquid, or a gas. No matter what state or form it is in, it’s always water. This is the best I can do.

So what about this Jesus character? Well, back to explaining the unlimited with limited terms again. I’d have to use two words, Superman and baseball. I’m not going to delve into the intricate details of Superman lore on this one, just the basic mythology. So you have this guy, who is very ordinary in his native environment, who gets dumped into a foreign environment in which he becomes extraordinary. {John 1:10-14} Superman would be ordinary on Krypton, but on Earth he has powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. I think of Jesus in this way. At home as an equal part of the Trinity, He fits in nicely, but dump Him on Earth, and He sticks out like a sore thumb. Jesus is what happens when you take something unlimited, and put it in a limited environment. This is why people don’t know how to handle this concept of Jesus. It messes with the rules that we’ve learned. How can something unlimited, fit into a limited place? If you’ve read the Bible, you come to the conclusion that it doesn’t fit well at all. The beauty is, because of that unlimited part, it doesn’t have to fit. Before Jesus, there was a pretty good list of stuff you had to do a certain way to get a ticket to Heaven. So far, man had managed to achieve two strikes at bat. Garden of Eden {Genesis 3:22-24}, strike one. Strike two involved a lot of water {Genesis 7:23} and a rainbow ending. God seemed to be done playing this game and wanted give man one last chance to knock one out of the park. The way I figure it, God thinks, “These guys are doing such a bang up job of dealing with the basic limits of this world from the first part of the manual that I gave them, maybe I should knock the level of difficulty down a notch. I’ll send a visual aide and loop hole all in one. Somebody who will walk the walk, and talk the talk.” Enter Jesus. {Galatians 4:4-5} Had he not been unlimited in a limited environment, he wouldn’t have been qualified to also become a loop hole. Now we just try to do what Jesus did {1 John 2:6}. Sure, we won’t all hit home runs, but at least if we fess up to being a wuss at this game, ask for more practice, and at least get on base (even if only by being “walked”), we have the blessed hope of getting brought home when the ultimate clean up batter steps up to the plate.

So what about this “miracle” issue? Let’s recap a few things. First, God is unlimited, and everything else is limited. Second, I’m extremely comfortable around all things limited. Third, skeptical of all things appearing to be unlimited. That said, I consider it a “miracle” when anything “limited” is encountered by the only thing “unlimited” (aka God), in such a way that it is granted an exemption from at least one of its limits. I do believe that this has, does, and can again happen. However, this is not to say that I am in any way comfortable with it. There are numerous accounts of such craziness in the Bible, however I have also personally witnessed some of this as well. It’s not at all easy for me to accept it when it does happen. When a person’s deformed‐from‐birth leg grows about a foot in length in a matter of minutes, I classify that a “miracle.” I personally witnessed this occurrence, and quite frankly, it freaked me out a bit. I have also witnessed things that I would classify as “spiritual phenomenon,” with a similar feeling of discomfort. However, despite any discomfort that these situations cause within me, I can’t deny the fact of their occurrence.

What need does the unlimited have for the limited? I say, “None.” For whatever reason God saw fit to create man in the first place, we are here because He “wanted” us here, not because He “needed” us here. Why is there a seemingly growing list of folks trying to turn that concept on its head? If I’m allowed to live another day, it’s because God “wants” it that way. If I were to wake up healed of my less‐than‐perfect vision, it’s because God “wants” it that way. That said, I don’t believe God “needs” anything. So forgive me when I summarily dismiss the statements of folks that state the opposite. When I hear someone say that I need to sell all my earthly possessions to fund their “ministry,” I tend to laugh out loud. Especially when they seem to lose track of how many mansions, vehicles, jets, suits, gold chains and rings, and extramarital affairs they have. I don’t believe God requires heavy financial funding. I think things like honesty, integrity, self control, and obedience, might work out better for any real “ministry.” You haven’t been physically healed, or escaped poverty, or found that special someone yet because your faith isn’t strong enough, or perhaps you haven’t chanted the right phrase the right number of times or in the right order, etc. What a bunch of bunk! The bottom line is, God “wants” you this way. The very instant He doesn’t, you won’t be, period. Oh, but God wants us all to live free from handicap in any form. So we should therefore all be perfect, right? Whoops, not perfect, just free from the limits we don’t like. That doesn’t track either. How about this, God wants us to be what He wants us to be.

What if I were God? First, let’s all be grateful this is not, nor will it ever become anywhere near the truth. I have no difficulty recognizing that I am not God. Coming from a completely “limited” experience of existence, my first hurdle is figuring out what to do with the utter lack of limits. I have a hard enough time when one thing in one situation in one point in time doesn’t play by one of the existing limits. I would take joy in knowing the answers to several questions that I, as a previously limited person, have struggled with for years. That said, the answering of this question by anyone other than God, is where things go horribly awry. This is where my definition of “religion” stems from. It comes from regular old cats like me. This is scary and pompous, yet also usually humorous and entertaining. The results of this action are fun to discuss, think about, play with, etc. However, when we start to take these musings of man as “truth,” we lose our only hope of finding it. God gave us Himself, not religion. We (to the exclusion of the Rastafari) like to pick people, or things, or places, or processes, and add the suffix “ism.” We then structure a way of being around this term we’ve made up. We create rituals and rules for ourselves to follow. {Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:7} No religion, philosophy, or belief system is beyond this failure. More of the same, trying to make the “unlimited” understandable, or even controllable by the “limited.” People tend to go one of two directions on this. They either write down only the rules that they won’t have any trouble following, or inversely, only the rules they could never follow. When you have one of these systems that becomes very popular as measured by a number of adherents, you call it a religion. When your ideas get a little too restrictive, or perhaps not restrictive enough, leading to a lower number of adherents, you have a cult. Sometimes a cult can, change its rules to better suit its adherents, and then with this newly gained popularity, become a religion.

I have come to the conclusion that I would make a horrible deity. The closest I will ever get is being a father. At first, the rules start out short and sweet, like in the Garden of Eden. {Genesis 2:16-17} However when these fail to adequately explain your expectations, you tend to create a striking amount of somewhat arbitrary rules. Although these rules are created for the intended benefit of the child, they sometimes get ridiculous. I tend to follow the protocol set forth in the Ten Commandments. {Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5} Proof that I would make a horrible deity? Try my commandments out. Thou shalt try to figure crap out thyself before thou cometh asking for mine help. Thou shalt learneth and useth logic. Thou shalt embraceth technology. Thou shalt gaineth appreciation for all form of music and art. Thou shalt haveth a dog. Thou shalt learneth from thine own mistakes as well as the mistakes of thine brethren. Thou shalt acteth thine age, until thou learnest comic timing. Thou shalt not be a poor loser. Thou shalt cleaneth up thine own mess. Thou shalt hitteth the hole whenest thou goeth pee. Thou shalt eateth and liketh whatsoever thou shalt findeth on thine own plate. Just to nameth a few.

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