Isn’t that the problem?
At least part of the problem?
Allow me to start this thought (this post) with a bit of humility. I don’t know it all, and the point of this post (if it can be boiled down to a single point) is above my paygrade, but even though I think thinking is important, I don’t think it’s the end-all/be-all. While love is humble, patient, and kind, it is not unreasonable – though it is no slave to reason either.
I am entirely open to wise ones and idiots stopping by to straighten me out here. Who knows? You might enlighten me.
I live in an ultimate reality – one in particular.
As a Christian, as a disciple, as a lover of God, I spend my days and nights running my observations and thoughts through a kind of grid. I study all the same (for the most part) subjects in school as everyone else with a liberal arts education. I watch most of the same movies, TV shows and news reports as everyone else. I read some of the same books, though that is starting to stray into some niche realities. But I funnel my observations and experiences through a grid which acknowledges God, resurrection, love, and peace.
So far, that is a pretty fair description of a lot of other “Christian” people. If that is the extent of our faith, we are not merely apt, but pretty much left with no alternative but, to argue our points.
That grid I run these thoughts through is a worldview lens, and it has not remained unchanged all my life. Even as a Christian, major changes to it have come up along the way. I used to hold to a typically American version of Christian faith which believed in a pie-in-the-sky type grid. The point of life, I thought, was to not get overly entangled in this sinful world as I develop a laser focus on Jesus and going to be with him (when I die) in some “heaven” somewhere else untouched by the dirt of creation.
This worldview was “Christian” sorta. It honored Jesus in some deeply broken ways that denied the goodness of creation and the redemption of it. It diminished the meaning of salvation to something palatable for modernity, allowing me to be thoroughly double-minded and not even know it.
Eventually, this worldview was challenged, and I made major changes. But even now, I recognize I am a work in progress. I don’t have it all figured out yet. There are some deeply mistaken bits of my worldview that keep me from seeing life clearly. I nonetheless believe that God was gracious with my old worldview and is gracious with my new one. So, I don’t get too jammed up about it, yet I am not satisfied with smugly sitting back to enjoy his grace with my broken worldview and then stagnate in it.
Well, I have chased that bunny far enough for this post. Allow me to say I conduct this worldview review in a world of sociological “constructs of reality,” of political “slants,” and of “my truth/your truth” relations. I was a modernist trying to be “Christian” when I came into this world, now I am a post-modernist trying to be “Christian.”
The Cold Modern World Where I Live
This is the general scheme of my thought world where I do my world viewing. I am sure there are more epistemological levels to it than I am currently voicing, but it’s already getting pretty deep – for me anyway. And yet, I have an underlying trust/faith with which I appeal to God through Jesus. Epistemology is not devoid of LOVE. The modernist worldview has no use for love. In fact, the modern worldview, for all it’s awesome contributions to life (lightbulbs, vaccines, and automobiles to name a few) got us here with a grid of cold indifference. There are no miracles in the modern worldview, instead of love being responsible for life, we have survival of the fittest.
Ignoring love did not make love go away. Additionally, though humanity remains dazzled by the power of modernity and the unifying force of it, we have learned there are some parts of life (important parts too) modernity cannot explain. Some thinkers bust out the cracks in this modernist prison of worldviews and rush headlong into all manner of witchcraft or new age bohemian mysteries. Such communities seem to thrive, at least spiritually, though they do so as parasites on modernity (in my estimation).
Such quarters/communities continue benefiting from the same lightbulbs, vaccines, and automobiles as the rest of us, but deny adherence to convention. And while witchcraft might stick in the craw of some, it still looks like a wonderful liberation – one in which the marketplace of ideas (and the marketplace of goods and services too) is only too welcoming and affirming of whatever wild notions of life you can conjure up for your “truth.” (Still beholding to the bottom line, the almighty dollar, but sure… anything goes!)
Modernity’s Spiritual Parasites
How else do you explain Motley Crue (yeah, the rock band) for instance?
Yeah, when I was a kid, Motley Crue made a celebrated “art” and “career” of sheer hedonism, of self-centered decadence that endangered themselves and others (was deadly, in fact). Yet they were the authors of bending all manner of realities I previously thought were bedrock foundations for life on earth. These guys were heterosexuals, but wore women’s clothes and makeup, danced around making fools of themselves while indulging every possible sexual fantasy I could conjure up (and then some) while thumbing their nose at authority, at convention, as they took hold of the wheel and determined their own life on their own terms.
You could hardly be more “rock -n- roll” than that. You could hardly be more “American” at some levels.
You wouldn’t know there was any pain in their lives for years to come. For a long time there, it seemed they established their own utopia. Thus, such a lifestyle looked like an exciting option to my teenaged worldview (tempered only by a heritage of Christian faith which was under assault from all quarters, though I had no idea).
I had to grow to middle age before I could look at that rock band and notice that such a lifestyle, if indulged by all, would not be sustainable. In fact, such an idea would be a nightmare, and now that I am grown up, the little I read, hear about, and see about that group, as those same people reflect on their lives, I find they suffered greatly along the way in the midst of that party life. Something I could not see when I was young.
If I could go back in time from here and now and find those boys as they were starting out in their bohemian influence on the world, what could I possibly say that might win them to Jesus?
“Hey, man. This life you are about to embark on with all it’s booze, drugs, women, money, fame, party, and influence – where you will be celebrated for every dumb thing you do – is a huge mistake which will cost you personally and will damage the world in countless ways. But if you look into Jesus, I am sure you will find healing for your soul….”
Yeah. That sounds like the truth, but a wheel-spinning truth with no traction. If I could go argue with these fools today, I don’t think I would get my foot in the door.
I never actually tried to live my life by their “truth,” but I certainly admired it a few times. There’s no doubt there were moments where their impact on my imagination influenced decisions in my life. And this particular rock band was never a favorite of mine!
I don’t think my grandparents ever knew the name Motley Crue. I doubt my parents did. But I sure did. But just imagine who I would be today if my parents and grandparents had been sold out fans of that group!
(I imagine such scenarios now that I am a foster/adoptive parent. My kids come from parents and grandparents who were fans of such influencers. The alternative realities give no feasible footholds from which to establish a beachhead and then argue for Jesus. I can try to argue with a stoned “mother” of six who gives up her baby to my home, but I don’t see that achieving anything. I can give all kinds of unheeded advice, or I can feel scorned after the fact and say “I told you so…” all to no avail.)
Alternative Realities Presenting Over the Course of My Adult Life
But let’s move off such an easy example for a moment. I can jump right into politics too, but allow me to cut a little deeper than simply attacking Q Anon for giving alternative realities which simply destroy previously shared realities at will. But already, I have said enough to demonstrate there is far more at work in the differences I have with Q than merely the news channels I watch on TV or search on the web.
I think the first time I was confronted with these political realities at such a visceral level was with the O.J. Simpson verdict after the Rodney King beating-trial and subsequent LA riots back when I was still a twenty-something. I saw what happened to Rodney King on video tape just like everyone else. I was a white American confronted with what previously had been a hidden reality.
Did that mean that all white cops always beat up all black suspects (or drivers pulled over on the side of the road)?
No. Of course, not. But it was so outlandish, it nonetheless revealed how possible such a scenario was/is and how easy it had been (before the pervasiveness of video cameras) to cover it up. There was an underground reality there which people like me were suddenly exposed to for the first time. I saw the injustice of it for myself and on the face of it.
But then the reality of that beating got ran through a grid of white justice, and those cops all got off!
Now… I am white enough, and law enforcement supportive enough, to see some mitigating circumstances due to the training which led to that injustice. I really am. But – BUT – I still see it as an injustice. I still think that normal, good people should have enough moxie about right and wrong not to engage in such things as Rodney King’s beating, and if – IF – caught up in it, to have the moxie to confess it, repent of it, and seek restoration.
None of that was the outcome of the white justice grid that crime was run through. At the end of the day, white made “right” and black could just suffer white “truth.”
Hmmm… a video tape confrontation should have led to justice for all, but instead it changed our reality of what justice means. (I think that’s a problem, btw.)
I watched that and felt it was a shame. I even had great sympathy with the rioters. I was disgusted with the beating of Reginald Denny, but at a systemic level, I had to see that “turnabout was fair play.” Still not justice, but fair. I was particularly glad to see some black faces try to save Denny, and even more thrilled to see Denny be so peaceful and forgiving after it. I felt both of those “truths” reflected more clearly the real truth of God. (But maybe that was just me.)
Yes, at the end of the day “fairness” and “justice” bifurcated.
Still, the part that troubled me most was when shortly after that riot, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty.
Now… bear with me on this point, because personally speaking, Johnnie Cochran was something of a hero of mine. I did not happen to champion his cause, but I was enthralled with his method. The way he presented an alternate reality was absolutely mystifying!
Nevertheless, the part that troubled me (and still does) is how that I sensed quite clearly that despite the racist cops investigating that crime, the evidence nonetheless bore out Simpson’s guilt. But AT THAT TIME, practically all black people I knew (which was few and anecdotal then) or knew of were telling me they were absolutely convinced of Simpson’s innocence. They were just sure he did NOT do it!
As a white man, I was even more troubled in that I sensed deep in my spirit that Simpson’s acquittal was driven more by the LA riots than by evidence or justice. White justice isn’t supposed to be influenced by such things. Oh… and white justice was supposed to just be JUSTICE, not particularly white, for that matter.
But you know what? Turnabout is fair play. Those cops who beat Rodney King got off, now Simpson got off too. LA burned in riots after the first verdict, and in NONE of these cases did I sense any real justice.
Meanwhile, I live(d) in America. We called it justice – as best we could. But really, it was a mess.
And underneath even that, I found people (black people) looking me straight in the eye calling Simpson’s verdict just. I believed (for the first time in my life) they believed that. We were not living in the same reality. The fact that Simpson got that verdict and that people could believe it was justice meant to me that we fundamentally have some cracks that go so deep into the bedrock of our shared foundation that I cannot see them and likely never will.
I want to argue the case! With fools.
I want to argue based on THE EVIDENCE, but even I feel the injustice of it if that is all I have. After all, turnabout is fair play. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but one wrong and one right is still not fair play either. That cannot be justice either.
By the way, my other favorite lawyer of that general time frame was Bill Clinton. He was not my favorite because of what he stood for, on the contrary, I despised his behavior – especially with Monica Lewinski, but his defense! My God! “That depends on what is is” is just stunning.
It was like ripping a page out of Beavis and Butthead. How dumb could you get? And yet, like Teflon, the accusations didn’t stick, not really, and so another lawyer with an alternative reality worked his magic, and I was enthralled. (At least this one didn’t alienate me from black people!)
Post Apocalyptic Elections and Pandemic (Past Experience at Work in Today’s Alternative Realities)
It is now, after making mention of those instances from my young adult life, that I reframe my experience(s) with politics and pandemic of recent times. I note that we now have a plethora of videos where cops mistreat, harm, and/or kill black people, and only recently is this without impunity. But now to stand for justice over blue on black is to tear the nation apart. To stand for old fashioned values is to be a racist insurrectionist. (How do I be a good white person today???)
As a white man with white values (although with white values tempered by fairness – I hope), I can see how hostile all the alternative realities are to my heritage or even to any central position we might adopt. As long as your justice is my Motely Crue, we will never speak the same language. I might argue with you, I might want to argue with you – especially since I see so clearly BOTH how close we are to the same page on the one hand AND that I have clarity in the one or two places where you don’t. But that just renders me arrogant and angry! (If you would just sit and listen a moment, I am sure I can straighten you out without any more bloodshed.)
But somewhere back there was a tipping point. In fact, it’s hard to say it was a point at all, but we are past it now. The barbarians are at the gate. If we don’t do something drastic, Rome will fall in a day. The stakes are higher now than they were when Rodney King was taped taking the wrath of white justice on the roadside. We finally hold at least a few cops accountable now, but our country is eating itself alive for the trouble!
Hey, I think it sucks that automobile manufacturers and steel mill workers are out jobs, and I want to see some of that come back too! How did it get to be that just because I want our cops to treat all citizens with care and respect (and by all, I mean including blacks) that I suddenly am against bringing back the mill? Why can’t I be both? And why am I threatened by Marjory Taylor Greene or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez if I care about BOTH of these issues?
Meanwhile, I talk about Jesus like some impotent jerk on the street corner shouting at passersby, “Sir? Sir?? Ma’am??? Have you heard the word of God?”
Man, I am shouting like a joke at people who have important business at the office. And in this joke I AM THE JOKE! They don’t have time, even if they do have the interest.
(By the way, a word to you liberals at this point (and no… this is not an exhaustive point, but part – PART – of the point you don’t seem to get), when you treat conservatives perpetually like the butt of your jokes (SNL? Steven Colbert?? Jon Stewart???), you breed contempt for you and your sense of reality which gives birth to scorn!)
(Oh, and also, btw, for you conservatives at this point (and no… this is also not exhaustive, but part of the point you don’t seem to get), if you are into Jesus, your scorn, anger, and hate – your righteous indignation – does not either represent Jesus or speak meaningfully to those you with whom you have this conflict. Your wagons are circled, and you are only a porcupine even to those liberals who MIGHT want to be reasonable with you… Just sayin’.)
Then there is the matter of my “tone.” People already don’t like me or want to hear from me for personal reasons, or that I stink.
Then there is the matter that I am wrong about some stuff, and currently I don’t see those things. So, I am either stupid or not the best resource.
Then there are those who sincerely are too angry to listen, in addition to being too busy.
And at the end of this long list of kinds of people and reasons for not listening are the haters – and there is plenty of them.
Remember those boys who dragged James Byrd Jr. to his death? Yeah, they weren’t going to listen to me or Mr. Byrd on that fateful night. They had some blind rage going, and you can’t shout reason loud enough to be heard over that.
Like the scene from Cool Hand Luke, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” But even that is too simplified.
The Jesus Card
Look. This post is already needlessly too long. But such is any good book on reason. All I have done is slowly come to reasonable observations about these alternate realities. Even the modern worldview was a new reality 300 – 400 years ago. So, there have been others, many others, but of course modernity is the King Kong of realities, but it’s being gutted by bohemians and barbarians of every kind and by sympathizers of bohemians and barbarians.
I mean, if we all became homosexual, we would need science to make reproduction for us, or else we will all die out. Science is from that cold worldview that gave us survival of the fittest. But if we all want to live in that same worldview, it will lead to death. The world, and that worldview, NEEDS some of us to live by some different world order or else the world cannot go on.
Deciding which worldview and world order provides a substantive and sustainable situation is, in the marketplace of ideas, up for grabs still, but that marketplace is not just innocently sitting there unattached to this or that worldview. Not really. No, even the marketplace of ideas is an invention of someone trying to “make nice” while making a buck.
There is a “THE TRUTH” alright, but it’s not actually “OUT THERE.” The TRUTH is relative, and to know it (him?), you must relate!
Ahhh… but now I am playing my Christian card, huh?
Yeah, I suppose I am. But then I don’t think there is a legitimate way not to do that, and not because I am merely biased this way, but because as one who believes the world was created in LOVE by LOVE and ordered for LOVE, I think you get a little cosmic dirt on ya in the process of thinking about all this stuff. I think that any arguments with fools without LOVE is nothing more than noisy gonging around.
That’s what I think about thinking.
In fact, I am not against thinking or arguing (the fact that I write this post at all would betray that idea if I espoused it), but I believe that the demonstration of long-suffering love makes the difference. Even more, I think that the thinking and arguing is secondary to the acts of love. I stand a better chance of winning the argument by sheer love without words at all than I do in talking you into being a Christian or into seeing the beating of Rodney King as unjust.
Hmmm… the thinking and arguing are still somehow involved, but not nearly the primary thrust the modern worldview would have you believe. Also, I note that the love must be patient, and might be required to suffer heavy losses before it wins. The love there might have to be bigger, heavier, longer, wider, higher, and deeper than me. It will surely outlive me. But I might just manage to be involved with it as it systematically dismantles all other “truths.”
The ultimate construct of reality belongs to God.