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, June 12, 2007

believing in a good way....

Back in January I went to a leadership session where the speaker contrasted belief in the post-modern age in which we find ourselves with belief in the now-passing modern age of the last 500 years. I haven't done enough research to know if he actually has spoken on this at his own congregation or written this list on his blog. And since he is employed as a preaching minister for a church, I'm not going to mention his name lest someone with nefarious purposes does a name search on him in order to convict him of some supposed heresy. Several of you may have heard him at a conference some of us attend in Nashville or in Fresno and he may have mentioned the points there. If so, you know who I'm talking about. If not, don't worry about it. If you need to write someone up, write me up. Besides, I was writing fast and I certainly don't want to misrepresent him. If I lost you somewhere in this paragraph, just ignore it.

These are not my points, though I wish I had come up with them. Admittedly, I massaged them a little since one point had just one word written in my notes. I offer them as a point of departure for discussion with the thought that nearly everyone believes in something.

Believing in a good way...

-- allows you to remain open to things outside of your belief system and, most importantly, open to new ways of seeing things within your belief system

-- exhibits a curiosity about life and its mysteries

-- allows no question to be "off limits", no matter how it challenges my belief system

-- exhibits a humility and teachableness even though you remain grounded in your own belief structure

-- is comfortable with uncertainty (I wrote "certainty" in my notes, but I'm sure in writing fast it was supposed to be "uncertainty" and I just missed it; so I have changed it)

-- produces good "fruit", by which I think he means it turns you into something other than the human equivalent of a junkyard dog. One more editorial note in this regard, and this sounds quite judgmental. But I have noticed a greater proclivity to junkyard dogness in churches than just about anywhere else. It makes you go hmmmmmm.

Many of the above points center around not allowing ourselves to be set in concrete in regard to our beliefs and not placing so much weight on systematic intellectual constructs rather than how we practice life. While I have met some people who are convinced they have it all figured out, I've never really met anyone who has, myself included. There is profound mystery in the world. Of that I am sure. How's that for certainty? ;-)

One more thing.... It doesn't really matter whether you are religious or irreligious in this regard. To believe you have it all figured out is to put your complete faith not in the Bible or Koran or Bhagavad Gita or Torah or Yoga or Science or whatever. It is instead to place your faith totally in yourself and your own intellectual abilities to conquer such mysteries. I'm not advising that we all abandon critical thought. But, while I don't know about you, my three-pound box of brains is too small to figure all of that stuff out. This is one of the reasons I have adopted a more contemplative, experiential approach to and practice of life. Besides, at the outside, in 120 years what you thought about this that or whatever won't matter. Unless you are one of the "big name" philosophers, your thoughts will have dissipated into the ether of the universe (unless quantum physics discovers otherwise). Your three-pound box of brains will be decayed and gone.

How you lived? Now that's another story.

But that's just me.

What do you think? ;-)

Grace and peace,


P.S. My wife is doing better all the time. I am quite thankful for your thoughts and prayers.


Blogger preacherman said...

Great post.
Thank your for letting us know about believing in a good way.
I will keep your wife in my prayers. I hope you have a blessed week.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Dan Dalzell said...

What we believe does (or should) shape how we live, but in the end (and each day along the way) what really matters is how we live out our beliefs. Good thoughts in your post.

Glad to hear that Dorothy is doing better too.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

I couldn't agree more that what we do is far more lasting than what we believe. Great post. Good to see you writing again.


5:41 PM  
Blogger Marshall said...

Hi, Owen,

Glad to "hear your voice." :) I certainly hope Dorothy gets better with each passing day.

You make me think of a passage in Karen Armstrong in which she is talking with a Jewish scholar who says that for Jews orthopraxy is much more important than orthodoxy - practice over belief.

Lots of love.

9:04 PM  

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