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.

Hmmm, I had to chuckle a bit when I read:

"For all my iconoclasm I'm more comfortable blending in."

You don't strike me as one who blends in, and I mean that as a compliment.

The last paragraph is interesting. God gives us a certain number of years here on earth. We don't know how many we'll have, so what if you were know the end of your life was year (lets say in another 30 years from now) will you look back and be thankful that you prevented repetitiveness or will you wish you took a risk to see if maybe there was something special waiting for you on an unknown path...
Martin Luther King Jr said something to the effect that it's a moral obligation to follow just laws, and an obligation to disobey unjust laws. Kinda like Paul, I suppose.
I hate going with the flow, it gets me in trouble, but I do it.
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