Growing a Human

While Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should g20110620-221027.jpgo; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” was not the subject of the conversation the other day, it did occasion me to think of the following analogy. It is one I have contemplated for some time.

Growing up we get a skeleton for our faith. This begins as our parents show their faith to us. Notice I am not saying just the Christians, Muslims do it, Hindus do it, atheists do it. Parents show their children what is important to them. More often than not, these are the ideals that the child grows up with as well. How the parent treats them, as important or not, also begins to send messages to the children as to how they should treat the matters.

Now the skeleton by itself is extremely flexible-in someone else’s hands. Knees can bend in 2 directions because there are no tendons or muscles to restrict them. A child’s view of religion is not very deep. It is very open to interpretation, and without guidance it can lead to anything. As we are able to grow in our faith, we understand better and are required to take fewer things by faith having gained an understanding of the truths behind them.

As we get older and bigger we add tendons and muscles and maybe eventually skin. The reasons for some of the bones being where they are becomes evident. Or at least it becomes clear that they simply are where they belong. You can’t get muscles before the skeleton. And while the muscles and tendons can be seen as restricting the movement of the skeleton, it is the way the body is meant to be. The truth of the way the body should move. The more body we have built, the more truth we understand, the closer we come to having something to put skin on, and a face. Eventually if we are lucky enough, we can get a complete body. It isn’t by chance or accident, and it isn’t overnight.

One of my absolute favorite CS Lewis books is Til We Have Faces. It is an allegory of the Psyche/Cupid myth, and contains, of all the unlikely things, idol worship and a class of priests unlike any you would ever expect to meet in a Christian work of literature. Idol worship, sure, idol worship by the “good” guys? Not expected. It all boils down in the end to a point where the question from God to the main character is how can we speak face to face, unless you have a face? Without being able to comprehend the biggest question of all, how can it be discussed?

On a macro scale (and unless you look deeply at the remainder of the plot) this mimics the legendary agnostic Douglas Adams’ answer to the question of life the universe and everything. We are given the answer (42) but cannot understand the question until a greater event has occurred.

No, these two don’t go hand in hand. And likewise the moral of Til We Have Faces is not that we cannot understand anything about religion until we understand everything about religion. That is more a Josef Heller novel. The point of it all is that we start to grow our human body as a child. The input our parents give (or don’t) is important in starting that off. That start also gives us the impetus to continue (or not) to build our understanding of how it all works until such time as we are able to no longer have to rely on faith alone to grasp the fundamental truths of it all.

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5 responses to “Growing a Human

  1. * I do not believe Jesus rose from the dead. His message rose from the dead.
    – Whether Jesus actually rose from the dead or not is really not that important to me. He didn’t do too much preaching after he returned, so it seems somewhat immaterial. This is detrimental to others when they become fixated on Jesus as a mystical spirit which can appear on pieces of toast and be sold over the internet. The believe enables billboards which state Jesus is coming back on XX/XX/XXXX. People give money to these ‘false prophets’ but the root of the problem is the heartbreaking suspension of disbelief. These people would on a better track if they gave their hearts to the Church of Jesus of Latter Day Saints.

    * I do not believe Jesus was immaculately conceived. Mary getting pregnant out of wedlock seems to be immaculately conceived enough.
    Getting pregnant out of wedlock has forced countless unprepared individuals to marry and raise the child in barns. It would be much better if the grandparents were allowed to raise the kids (like President Obama and Oprah)

    * I do not believe in eternal life. The Kingdom of God is a society which has accepted the values of charity, humility, and grace.
    This is an overly selfish motive, and would not be healthy for me to believe.

  2. Found this to be a fascinating post which brought up exciting unexplored ideas and references I might be able to ponder later.

    My two-second understanding of the point made is: Details are critical to making valid arguments, understanding the point someone is trying to make, and/or understanding in general.

    I struggle with details. In everyday conversations I often miss the point being made because of a mechanical failure in the brain.

    However, I have found when frustration arises it is helpful to establish the intents and purposes of carrying on.

    Christian conservationism has an inescapable negative impact on my life, politically and socially. In order to deal with this burden, I feel it may be productive to learn the details of the other perspective using the safety of the internet. More specifically, I struggle to understand the justification for the views held by mainstream American Christianity, based on a story of Jesus as a man on Earth. As a student of people (and myself), I have found thought patterns to have a quality existing on a scale with two extremes: Inclusive and Passive/Aggressive. The Inclusive thought pattern aims to bridge, while the Passive/Aggressive thought pattern tends to divide. To help myself and others, my aim is to use a mix of inclusive and passive/aggressive discussion in order to maximize learning in myself and others to positively impact the political and social future in which I will live.

    Background on me:
    I was religiously educated in an Anabaptist faith and community. My parents were not ‘members’ of the faith. My mother resisted joining due to strong relationships outside of the church family (the fold). My father resisted joining out of intellectual honesty, and then later because he married my mom Both parents were born and raised in the Church. My Dad is getting older now, and decided to join the Church. My mom is now a member of the local Baptist church. I believe the Bible contains passages which are presented as facts which are false. The Bible also promulgates a religion I believe in with my whole heart.

    • While my upbringing was not an Anabaptist one, I could be one. I consider the ceremony I was a part of at the age of 1 in an Episcopal church to be my christening rather than my baptism. My baptism was 19 years later at the age of 20 on a Super Bowl Sunday (it really means something to me, even though it was the years of the Bills). So, depending on your point of view, I am by definition anabaptisized, or just a regular Baptist. I do not say this to make fun, but merely to mention that I believe I am following where you were going and to say that my own upbringing was less than orthodox.
      Somewhere after the age of 2 my parents joined a charismatic church that was mostly run by former Baptists. As a result, when I moved away and sought church for myself I felt particularly at home with the Baptist denomination.
      I wonder if the passages of the Bible to which you refer as being false are passages whose sincerity were questioned by your parents or the fold.
      Regardless, if you look hard enough I believe that you will see that the seeds of your faith, and the patterns with which you follow were sown by your intellectual father and outgoing mother. Not that you are a duplicate copy of them, but the main ideals, the degree of importance placed on them, and ability to understand and delve deeper into their meanings are similar to the forces that brought them the direction they have now, and brought them to the place they are.
      I suppose it is like the story of the five blind men who are brought into a room with an elephant. One has his hand placed on the trunk, another the ear, another a leg, one the tail, and yet another the stomach. All 5 come away with a pronounced different opinion of what they just saw, but while none of them got the whole picture, none of them were completely wrong about it either.
      Mind you I’m not saying I am completely right, I’m just explaining how three people could have the same inputs and yet have so drastically different an output.

      • You are an really interesting character!

        For Mom, many of the traditions of the church seem to be designed to divide people. For example, women are required to wear hair in a bun, wear only dresses, and have a subordinate attitude toward men. Several passages in the new testament are used as justification for these practices. This makes for a social situation in which non-members are generally uncomfortable around members. The social division these practices creates are for the purpose of separating the members from “the world”. Mainstream culture is considered worldly. My mom is sensitive to what her longtime friends think of her, and joining church would be going off the deep end. I would have to agree with them. My Mom joined the baptist church, and has told me that one either accepts the Bible as true or does not. I think this is unfair, but is a common sentiment I find is shared by mainstream Christianity. I see the demand to either accept or reject the literal interpretation of the Bible as a passive/aggressive response to legitimate questions.

        My Dad is a bit more open minded. He will entertain many different ideas about religion, while at the same time knows which people he needs to agree with at the end of the day. He is a member of the church. When I ask Dad about Dinosaurs, he does not try to make up stories, or say the scientists are retarded. My Mom would. Dad once tried to convince me that plants have emotions because they bend toward the light. He is not that retarded, and is simply trying to explain how he believes. I really respect him. I believe the only reason he joined church was to die with faith. It makes me cry I love him so much.

        I do not believe in miracles:
        * I do not believe Jesus rose from the dead. His message rose from the dead.
        * I do not believe Jesus was immaculately conceived. Mary getting pregnant out of wedlock seems to be immaculately conceived enough.
        * I do not believe in eternal life. The Kingdom of God is a society which has accepted the values of charity, humility, and grace.

        I could accept these on faith, but I believe this would be detrimental to others accepting the message of Jesus, and counterproductive for myself.

        Instead, I simply believe there is a higher power, and this higher power does not own me eternal life, happiness, or anything else.

        I have peace knowing I am trying to do the right thing for God.

        If I live to see a society which acknowledges the authenticity of an individual who falls madly in love with a caring, compassionate person and allows God to be the tie that binds these people for a eternal relationship, I may one day find bliss in the Kingdom of Heaven. This, however, is simply a hope and not a covenant.

      • I read a quote this morning that I have seen before but seemed appropriate here. It was by Albert Einstein: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” The points you make at the end just don’t, to my way of thinking, make sense. I absolutely disagree with your beliefs, but rather then discuss them outright, I want to focus on the statement that you could accept these on faith but believe it would be detrimental to others as well as counterproductive to yourself. Can you expound that?

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