Posted by: ritagone | January 26, 2011

A Few Weird Thoughts

Here’s a little comparison – a very little comparison – to what I think heaven is like:

You probably understand by now that I watch and love movies.  I also love TV series, British, well-made American, whatever, series that tell long stories, movies that tell stories.  And every once in a while, I discover randomly a movie or a series that comes out of nowhere and just surprises me with its profundity and depth and beauty and literally takes my breath away.

Now, that movie or series was there all the time, even before I knew about it.  It had an existence without me, and that beauty and essence was no more or less profound without me knowing about it.  I just discovered it for myself.  I didn’t cause it to come into being.  It was there all the time.

I watched an interesting movie the other day (yes, another movie illustration – sorry, I firmly believe movies are the stories of our culture and our time): “Creation,” about the struggle Charles Darwin went through to actually sit down and write out his theories concerning evolution and the process of one species surviving over another.  If this movie’s facts are to be believed, part of Darwin’s struggle was due to the fact that he realized that his research would indeed do great damage to theology and the belief that everything was brought into being by a Creator, and his wife, a devout Christian, opposed his work to some degree.  So Darwin struggled and wrestled with what were to him very real responsibilities and fears for the future that involved him.           There’s a fascinating scene in which Thomas Huxley and Joseph Hooker – close friends and advocates of natural selection and evolution – come to visit him at his home to encourage him to get to writing what was to become “The Origin of Species.”  Darwin, suffering from psychosomatic illnesses and nearing a mental breakdown, can’t bring himself to put pen to paper, knowing full well what the repercussions of his theories will be in society.  Huxley raves at him, “You can be the man who kills God!!” thinking that Darwin will be overjoyed to have such an honor accorded to him.

And – stick with me here, because this is going to come together in a second – this made me think of another aspect of all of this: what if we have gotten some of it all wrong?  What if what we have been taught or learned to believe about Darwin is incorrect?  What if all of our anger about the man is misplaced?  What if he really did struggle with his theory and presenting it to the world because he did understand the turmoil it would cause, and he isn’t the blaggard we have been saying he is all these years and decades?

Have you ever discovered that you got something terribly wrong?  That you were mistaken about something?  I certainly have, and it isn’t a wonderful feeling.  But the recognition and the acknowledgement are what make us grow and change, the ability to say, “I was wrong; I admit it.”

Now, let’s put these two thoughts together and hopefully see how they relate to what I think about heaven: the truth that there exists beautiful and thought-provoking reality beyond what I know about, that is not dependent on my knowing of it, first of all, and secondly, the truth that sometimes I get things wrong, that what I believed about something may have been couched in myth or legend or misinformation at best.  Now, I’m not talking about Scripture here, although quite often we’ve all been subject to plain and simple scriptural misinterpretation along the way, for sure.  (We need go no further than spiritual gifts or the role of women for that debate, do we?)

What I’m talking about is that maturity is a process of re-negotiating and recalibrating information and coming to new understandings about life.  What once was unclear may become clearer; what once was black and white may, with age and more grace, become a beneficient gray.  Maybe Charles Darwin is not the ogre; perhaps there’s more to the story than you or I know.  The theory of evolution has done much damage, obviously, to the cause of Christ, but let’s not assume we know the intent of Mr. Darwin when he wrote his book, because we absolutely cannot know that.

And in not knowing, there is and should be much grace.

And this is a picture for me of heaven: a place that exists without my needing to support it or create it, just like all the reality that exists without me and my knowledge of it.  And a place that my information may be malformed about, but, thank God, it doesn’t depend on my information.  I think there’s not much about heaven in a descriptive sense in the Bible because we just can’t get our heads around it; it’s allegorical because that’s the way we can see it instead.  But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a wonderful reality that exists beyond my ability to see it and know about it, just like there are truths that exist even though I don’t grasp them…yet.  Or things I haven’t seen because I haven’t been exposed to them…yet.

These are some thoughts that are rumbling around in my head today.  I’m still trying to understand them myself, so I hope they haven’t been confusing to you.  I’d love to know if they strike a chord at all with you as you read them.

Regards, Rita

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