life in the suture zone...

In the earthquake faults between tectonic plates, the suture zone is the in between place where they meet. I find in that a metaphor for the times in which we live... and invite your conversation in the suture zone.

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Location: Bakersfield, CA, United States

... a struggling, but mostly joyful, apprentice of Jesus.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

silence 2...

(Note: Steven and I had a harrowing journey from Texas back to Bakersfield Friday through almost Monday. Don't be surprised if Fort Hancock, TX, no brake lights for 1500+ miles, and Volkswagon's anti-shift locks show up in future posts!)

My experience at Mount Calvary has made me begin to think about the nature of silence and how there are many ways to look at it. Much of our view of silence, I suspect, depends on the way we were raised. Some of us were raised in noisy or moderately noisy homes. Some were raised in sedate environments where anything above a whisper was frowned on. I was raised in a rather free, moderately noisy household without a lot of restrictions in the noise area.

Sometimes experiences in life change your perspective, such as my encounter with silence at Mount Calvary.

Personally right now, my attitude toward silence has completely changed. I am in the noise avoidance mode as you can tell from my last post. A television left on grates on my nerves. The constant blather of talking heads makes me irritable, and I want to shout, “Will someone please shut that guy up?!?” I know, I know. There are important things being talked about on the news.... for example, the weather. But what you have to sit through to get to that point can be quite frustrating.

Theological attitudes toward silence also vary. What does silence mean anyway?

I come from a Christian denomination that has read much into silence, but the reading was all negative. “If the Bible doesn’t say you can do something (usually used in reference to worship practice or church organization--funny how it only dealt with that), then you shouldn’t do it.” Silence was (and still is in many places in my denomination) considered restrictive. One doesn’t have to dig deep to see the inherent dangers in such an approach nor flex the imagination much to discover the path to irrelevancy in such things. As I have often said before on this blog, sometimes we ask the wrong or unimportant questions. I think God may often say such things as, "C'mon people! Who gives a rip!?! What about the poor, the addicted, those with different opinions and all the rest I expected you to bless??? Remember Jesus?!?"

I don’t know that the opposite view of silence is any better: silence is completely permissive in terms of practice. This view leads to the same misdirection, IMHO, that the previous view leads to. In other words, we focus on the wrong question or questions.

I would ask the question, “Does silence from the deity have anything to do with behavior?” Actually, I have more questions than that, and more important ones based on where I am in my thought process right now. Certainly enough to lead to another few posts on this subject. Questions such as, “Does silence indicate absence or non-existence?” and “Is silence an appropriate expression of companionship?” and “Is silence a recognition of the failure to communicate?” There are even more floating around in my small head.

Hmmmm. Not too silent, eh?

Stay tuned in the next several days for more.

In the meantime…

Grace and peace,



Anonymous Wade said...

It is always a joy to recieve knowledge gathered and then shared
Your experience is a treasure, please continue

7:51 PM  
Blogger Tim Lewis said...

Mmm...silence. I need some more of that recently. I think I need to fast from TV or something. Thanks for the reminder.

Remember Jesus.

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Paul Graham said...

Silence can be a very comfortable blanket. When torn away, some of us get downright testy.

“Does silence indicate absence or non-existence?” Owen, you're far to wiley to answer that with a yes.

“Is silence an appropriate expression of companionship?” Ever sit down with Dorthy and enjoy a comfortable silence, now that the kids are gone? Ever do that with GOD? Your blog indicates you have.

“Is silence a recognition of the failure to communicate?” I would say no, somtimes return emails, phone calls, or stopping by are not as important when the needs others must be met. However when verbal or physical communications resume, important words are spoken.

Grace and peace to you and yours, but above all, Love!

7:40 PM  

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