Castles in the Sand

When the waters rise, will our castles remain?

Signpost with "Faith" and "Reason" point opposite directions

I started with the question of when did Christians become so anti-science. But then I remembered stories about Galileo and the Inquisition and other great thinkers of history and realized, this has been going on for way too long.

I think Galileo said it best: “The Bible teaches men how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”

I’m not sure how we decided the Bible was our best science textbook. Of course, I’m also not sure how we reached our current culture where we claim every word of the Bible (naturally as translated to English) must be 100 percent literally accurate with no contradictions, and yet we try to apply every word to today’s context without regarding what the words would have meant to the people in the time they were written.

I highly recommend a podcast episode by Tim Mackie from his “Exploring My Strange Bible” series focused on Science & Faith. He believes that the tension between science and faith is more of a perceived tension than a real tension. I agree with that assessment, and I hope you’ll take an hour to listen to his lecture from 2011 at Blackhawk Church in Madison, Wisconsin.

The goal is to recalibrate ourselves to recognize that the text we read in the scriptures are products of their time. The most obvious consequence of that is they’re in a different language and must be translated. But beyond that, we also have to recognize what their purpose was when they were written. Continue reading

Grayscale lion with brown eyes

We have a natural tendency as human beings to want things without actually considering the consequences, both of what it takes to achieve that thing and what the ensuing repercussions will be.

Take, for example, Simba in The Lion King. The new version came out last week, and I quite enjoyed it, although I agree with the reviews that point out the lack of emotion that photo-realistic animals can show compared to traditional animation. But either way, one of young Simba’s defining moments is when he sings the song “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.”

I’ve often heard that song and thought of it in much harsher tones, pointing out that he can’t be king until his father dies. So, in essence, without him realizing it, Simba’s ode to power and authority really boils down to “I just can’t wait until my dad dies.” Unfortunately, a few minutes later in the movie, that exact thing happens (#spoileralert), and Simba immediately discovers that things aren’t how he imagined them.

I think this is a key component of our own life experience as we grow and mature. With each step into adulthood, we learn new lessons about ourselves and our beliefs and the ramifications they have for others. How we respond to those new lessons defines us.

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Hands cupping a lit candle in a dark room

Humanity has an image problem. We often claim it’s a cultural thing, but I’m pretty sure if we look throughout history we’ll see the same thing.

Here it is: we care more about how we appear to others than what we actually do.

This isn’t necessarily about physical appearance, although that’s also true. We only post the best pictures on social media, and even then we might use editing tools to make it look even better. But I’m talking about something even deeper.

Perception is more important to us than actual value.

There’s reason behind this, as perception has actual value as currency. If we look at some of the recent revelations about methods Donald Trump used in the 1980s and ‘90s to inflate the appearances of his wealth, we see that simply by creating a mirage of extreme wealth, he opened opportunities for larger funding sources that led to more extreme wealth (although even how extreme it is now is a question we can’t answer since he refuses to provide any level of evidence for his claims).

It’s the entire premise behind the Wizard of Oz: “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” Only notice the awe-inspiring image you see before you.

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Little boy hiding in pillows on a couch

My grandmother is a worrier. She’s never met an outrageous possibility she couldn’t be anxious about.

If you ever walk anywhere by yourself, you’ll be mugged, kidnapped, or worse. If you ever ride a roller coaster or travel on an airplane, fiery death is imminent. The tiniest thing will keep her awake at night convinced her most horrible fears (and I can’t even imagine her most horrible fears) are coming true.

We’ve had countless conversations over the years trying to remind her that fear and anxiety are not of God, and that Christ calls her and empowers her to have a spirit of peace. She doesn’t have to live in fear of everything. It’s holding her back.

Unfortunately, my grandma is not alone in this. While her example might be an exaggeration, that same spirit has overtaken white Evangelical Christians in America.

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American flag and Christian flag

How’s that for a divisive post title?

Here’s the thing though, it really shouldn’t be divisive (and I did not intend it as clickbait). From both a US political history perspective and a Christian perspective, it should be acknowledged as both historical fact and a good thing. Nothing I’m going to say in this post is new, but I hope it can provoke some reevaluation on our parts, as I believe we’ve gotten way off course.

Let’s take a minute to review the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This was important. The founders reviewed history and recognized what happens when the government enforces a state religion – contrary to the peaceful teachings of most religions, the result was essentially always bad. We see that even with some of the first Europeans coming to America: although we severely sanitize the story, we all remember the pilgrims and Puritans coming to the New World to escape religious persecution. They were Christians seeking to escape persecution in their Christian nation.

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Hand tossing a rock

There’s a three-word declaration that is almost impossible for us to say. It contradicts human nature, which seeks to deny fault for a mistake (or even to deny there ever was a mistake). This declaration requires an effort that is counter to that nature and a humility to accept responsibility.

It’s much easier for us to say, “It’s not my fault!” and point the finger at someone else. If we trace back to the story of the first humans in the book of Genesis, that’s basically how humanity began. I ate the fruit, but it’s her fault for giving it to me. She made me do it!

Our culture hates signs of weakness, and it despises what it considers to be step-backs. If you make an inflammatory claim, you stand behind it. If someone factually disproves it, you attack them personally and turn the mob on them. Don’t ever suggest you made a mistake. Don’t ever flinch. Keep attacking, regardless of the fight.

I believe this approach is entirely unhealthy. I also believe that change starts with the individual, and I can only control myself. So here’s my confession.

I was wrong.

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Woman in busy street surrounded by people

Life can be really challenging. And you’re not alone in that.

I know, those statements seem obvious. But so often we get caught up in our social media whirlwind, where we see only what people want the world to see. People post only the highlights from their job, their marriage, their families. Aside from some potty humor, people don’t usually post about how many blowouts they’ve dealt with from their newborn child today.

It’s not just social media, though. Our culture’s been this way for a long time. We see it all around us in movies and television, where things just seem a bit more idyllic. Even with some of the more recent shows that have delved into tougher topics, they still simplify them in a way that make them seem either easily solvable or not actually something many people deal with.

That’s a problem. We see that, and then when it happens to us, we think there aren’t really many others going through it. We also think if it takes us more than 22 minutes to resolve it, we must have serious issues.

But it’s not true. Life can be really challenging. For all of us. You’re not alone.

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