Shovels and Digging Deep

“Atheists may be as rare in America as Jesus-loving politicians are in Europe, but here faith is almost entirely devoid of content. One of the most religious countries on earth is also a nation of religious illiterates.” – Stephen Prothero (click to read the article).

blue grass shovelMegan was with me when I went to buy a shovel. Typically, I study products endlessly before a purchase. But this was a shovel, I could choose one. Only we arrived in the aisle to a multitude of versions and prices. So there I stood, picking up each shovel. Studying. Debating. At this point you may think I have a problem, just pick one. And I did buy one, but 40something was too much and I immediately returned it. I went back to the aisle. And here is when Megan swore to never shop with me again… because I traveled to the register with the same 40something dollar shovel.

I do have a problem.* I study endlessly. Everything.  Most of the things do not matter. But what amazes me is that some people rarely study any decision, even the choices that matter.

*In purchases, I have a separate issue as I balance my cheapness with a love for luxury — hence the shovel. Though I will say, now twelve years later, I still love the shovel.

There are a few questions every human should answer. At the core we should ask “why am I here?” (Existentialism), which leads invariably to the question of God (or creator).** And our decision to that question changes everything. If we are alone – there is no God or creator – then we must define for ourselves truth and purpose. If there is a God, then what purpose does the creator have for our existence?

What fascinates me is when people choose to believe in God, but live as though the decision does not have implications. When the sensible reaction would be to learn and seek every bit of knowledge about God.

This point was drawn home when I read the NYTimes editorial quoted above. In church work I have found the lack of Biblical knowledge startling. Common theology is a mixture of pop-culture, tradition, and Sunday School stories. More often than not, theology is just an extension of whatever the person already believes.

When you add in the mistakes, confusion, and truth – I wonder if I know more about shovels than some know about their God.

Okay that last line was a little much. Still, I would ask, have you really dealt with the questions of life? Have you found the answers yourself? As a Christian, have you taken the time to weigh your beliefs with the scriptures? (Not just proof texts, but passages in context weighed against the whole.)

** On this question, the question of God, I agree whole heartedly with Pi Patel. It requires faith to make this decision. Reason can only take us so far. Certainly I understand those who choose to fear God. But I also understand Atheism, they have dealt with one of life’s core questions. But it is hard for me to fathom agnosticism, how does someone accept not answering such a basic question? In the Life of Pi Yann Martel writes, “It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them – and then they leap. I’ll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for awhile. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”

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