Saturday, October 06, 2007


Intuition and Language

Maybe this was sparked by Layla's post about atheists. I left a comment describing some of my experiences with dogmatic atheists, which is kind of funny. They disallow me the right to believe in God and argue, as passionately as any missionary, for their belief that there is no God.

This naturally leads to coming up with reasons to believe God is real. Being a believer in the scientific method I've tried very hard to come up with good solid reasons for believing that God is real and that he loves me. Jesus often says things like "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Vision and hearing. There is a surface beneath what we see that holds everything up.

Jesus said that if he were silenced, the very stones would cry out in worship. I've spent a lot of time walking and riding around. Stones, dirt, trees, flowers. All speak of something beyond daily efficiency. Why would nature be so profligate? If it were up to men to design the world there would be one organism per ecological niche instead of the complex and seemingly inefficient ways in which niches overlap in the real world. And why is there beauty? Why is there an appreciation of beauty? Why are there people building cyclotrons to understand atoms, and why are there people building sculptures from sand?

In my mind this all adds up to a picture of something deeper than words can carry. I've always wanted whole answers. Intuition says there has to be more, an intuition long trained to look between the words and underneath the facile expression of stories.

God isn't an easy answer. People often say He is. "Oh, you just believe that because you want everything tied up neatly." Saying that God made the universe may tell me where it started, but there's still all that messy complexity to understand; we still have the ability to ask questions even if the answers are too fine to be retained by the sieve of the scientific method. Then there's the effect of God on the human soul: rub shoulders with Him and you are changed, which quite neatly explains why people so often keep Him in a book.

So, why me? I recognize the limits of building-block truth. Sometimes you have to look at the mortar too. I have a deeply buried intuitive side. Few people see this unless they watch me make a sculpture. There is no reason to make sculpture other than expressing things I don't understand in a way that is comprehensible but technically useless.

It's not safe to be an intuitive person in this world. I can't explain the decisions I make. So, I keep people at a distance so they won't see the tissue of intuition that holds my conceptual world. Gossamer and moonbeams won't hold up under the hot analytic stare with which most people greet the world. Long ago I made the decision to retain the gossamer, preferring that to the hard-edged inflexible way I lived amid.

When God came along and picked me up I had given up. I expected the moonbeams to be torn away, replaced with something else. Who knows? I was at the end of the line anyway.

Giving up isn't that easy. When push came to shove I fought back. Intuition is right, dammit, even if the God of the Universe disagrees. Like Jacob, I fought. I fought myself right into an irrational sweet spot, like Br'er Rabbit and his briar patch. Who do you think made irrational people? Eyes to see, and it takes time for God to liberate my senses so I can see beyond my own assumptions.

This is actually quite safe. God is never vindictive. He's never like the atheists who need to convince others. He never tramples on my senses. He waits, hints, suggests, guides, and waits some more while I make up what's left of my mind. That I'm rather tattered at the moment is due to my own fighting than anything He has done. He gently holds my loose bits, gossamer, moonbeams and all, providing the water that this dynamic sculpture needs in order not to collapse.

What human being can tolerate being around such? I'm either a challenge to their way of being, or deluded, or a problem to be solved. Add to that my desire for protective coloration, which means I tend to become like what I think the other person wants to see. All to protect something more important to me than life: moonbeams, dewdrops, reality beyond the reality. Beauty. I'd rather live alone than give those things up, and it seems that people are like politicians in wanting to put their stamp on everyone they know. I don't want to change anyone. Nor do I want to be changed to suit someone else, no matter how well intentioned.

It's quite a knot. Obedience, freedom, intuition, knowledge, survival, logic, construction, desire, faith, intellect. In this we see the difference between what Jesus did and every other religion: God offers help. Without the Holy Spirit I would give up. The mountain is too steep, too tall. The knot is far too complicated and unlike Alexander I can't just get out my sword and cut the thing in half. To do so would be to kill myself. I need to get into that cosmic furball and find out where the threads lead. Only God can keep me from destroying the whole thing.

Friday, October 05, 2007


Obedience and Language

Not much has changed. The hole seems deeper, the thicket darker. In October 2003 I wrote "The Language of Obedience" hardly knowing what I was doing. That hasn't changed very much either. Maybe that's a good thing, as it forces me to figure things out on the fly instead of relying on ritual.

I don't care for obedience. Too many times people are obedient and all that happens is they all go over the cliff together. Think Gallipoli, buffalo stampeded by Sioux, the charge of the Light Brigade and swords against emplaced rifles. I'd rather make my own mistakes.

What future has a disobedient iconoclast in God's world? Paul talks about obedience and he went smiling into jails. I wonder how he got there. Does God really want unquestioning obedience?

I've read that the key to effective command is never to command people to do things they wouldn't do anyway. I've not seen many examples in real life, and that leads me to wonder if this is a real principle or just someone's idea. It has appeared in enough different contexts that the idea must have some validity.

It's just that I'm so strongly affected by survival training. Appear to follow the herd. It's hard for me to accept anything else; there is danger is setting off on unknown paths if only for the attention that walking alone draws. For all my iconoclasm I'm more comfortable blending in.

The idea that God waits for me to accept his way of command is radical. What I've been taught is that God gives the commands and we just go. No questions, no backtalk.
"How high?"
Experience is to be put firmly into the back seat.

My experience indicates that God is patient. He knows what he wants but seems to be very careful in never letting me find out what it is. One night we were talking about this.
"Why don't you tell me?"
"What? You want to turn me into a ritual?"
He had a point. I learn what needs to be done, figure out how to do it and then put the whole process on automatic. God has to surprise me in order to get me to truly see.

I always figured obedience would be a problem. Obedience in some things isn't a problem. I know the discipline of sand sculpture and obey the engineering so that I can express art that can't be done any other way. Obeying street signs is simple survival: we all agree, more or less. God's demands seem to be more subtle. What does he really want?

What do I really want? I used to think I knew. Creativity and obedience don't seem to go together but maybe that's just because of my damaged perception. Still, the question is difficult. I can't help feeling that I'm being set up for a big fall sometime, that all of God's apparent kindness is just the velvet glove around the steel fist. Why do I think that? History. Too many times I've trusted people and then gotten smacked. I guess it happens to everyone but I have a strong desire to prevent repetitions, and I'm clever enough to figure out ways to make that happen. God has to trump my cleverness with kindness and his gentle call.

It never seems to bother him. I sort of sense a smile, as if he likes the challenge.

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