I’ll never forget the first time a Nigerian prince decided to put me in line for his father’s inheritance. Back then, spam filters weren’t as professional and discerning as they are now. But we have another problem these days, and it’s much bigger.
We don’t share a common truth with one another.
My son and I come up with a new game every week. The other day, we stumbled upon a new one. He has become fascinated with my wedding ring. For a while, he was okay to simply look at it on my hand. But now, he always wants to hold it for himself.
The world we're born into gives us certain beliefs without asking our permission first. Some of these values are helpful–others are destructive.
Here are four things our culture tells us about destiny and purpose that are actually holding us back from a healthy future.
I am horrified by what happened in Beruit, Paris, and Kenya. I am disgusted by the contempt and utter disregard shown by these murderous attackers. I think we can fight back. I believe we can be free from terror–once and for all. But the way to be liberated from fear isn’t obvious–it’s very counterintuitive.
I went to Disneyland with my family when I was still in high-school and ended up in the middle of a conversation with one of their “Cast Members” (a fancy name for their staff). My mom and sister were shopping and I wanted to know if this kindly retiree had any secrets about the underbelly of such a massive theme park. Only one thing stuck out to me: the specific and ironclad Pointing Rule.
Words, by their very nature, are supposed to be indivisible. They capture the right parameters of a given idea and exchange the whole of that idea for a handful of characters. Our brains become familiar with these collected symbols–these words–and synthesize ideas without keeping us aware of the process.
We’re wrestling with concepts far beyond the boundaries of our language. We ache and clamour for the right sentences and statements so we can call them “the truth”. Everything outside of our truth is falsehood. Everything outside of our right is wrong.
We are in the middle of an epidemic.
I looked up the definition of that word because I wanted to make sure I’m using it correctly. I know how voices on the internet are given to exaggeration. Yep, it’s an epidemic. I’ll play my hand right away: my wife and I are having a baby within the month. In our day and age, you prepare by painting the baby’s room and finding the right car seat. Then all of the sudden, you feel all this pressure to form an opinion about vaccines.
I’m going to spend some goodwill here. I’d like to get right down into the ugliness of the human experience, because I think we’ll find God there. And perhaps, if you don’t believe in Him, you’ll at least be able to acknowledge a beautiful idea–and maybe it will make you suspicious of a new kind of truth... Or, maybe you’ll decide you don’t believe in the kind of God I do. I’m willing to take that risk. Today has been set aside to honour Martin Luther King–a reformer of both culture and faith–and a personal hero of mine. I'd like to share why I believe King's passion for justice, and his commitment to non-violence, rings true for us today.
I am not an atheist. But I often tell people I was one for about a week. When I was in high school I began to wrestle with my faith through many tough questions. After months of reading and searching and doubting, I came to the conclusion one day that I did not believe in the existence of God. This didn’t bring me any relief, but I couldn’t see any way around what I felt deep in my guts.
This is a confession, and a direct appeal to anyone who doesn’t believe exactly the same as I do. I find myself thanking God for those who do not profess a Christian faith–or any faith at all. I thank God for them because I think we have much more in common than I ever realized.
I don't feel I could sum up Robin Williams' life or passing very well. I can only summarize what kind of influence he had over me, and the kind of questions his passing raises. Grief, on any level, can be a disorienting emotional fog– but it can also be a powerful clarifier. In our modern western context, death is a scary thing we'd rather not think too much about. Of course, when we are forced to confront death, we come face-to-face with our real values, and we can examine the things we care about the most.