Before We Get to the Light, Let’s Spend a Bit of Time in The Tunnel

Light at the end of the tunnel

As I pondered last post, Nietzsche concurred with folks like Solomon and Hamlet.  They were all on the same page: there is nothing new under the sun.

The grumpy old philosopher claimed that there is a limited number of options in the world.  Life consists of re-experiencing the same things, over and over again.

The thing is, I could sympathize with somebody who thought that Nietzsche was wrong.  I could see how somebody could claim that life is comprimised of an infinite number of occurences.  I’m not sure I’d agree with them.  But as I pondered this, it occured to me:

it actually doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter whether there is a finite number of repeating events in the world, or an infinite series of events that are fundamentally different.

The reason it doesn’t matter?  Well, I guess it’s because we’re doofuses.

We’re doofuses.  There’s no way around it.  We’re irrational.  We repeat these same scripts, over and over.  We have these early life events.  And that pretty much sets up the menu for us of options.  For our whole lives.

There was a time I would have qualified the above paragraphs.  There was a time when I would have thought those things about some people… other people.

In a limited way, I was right.  But I was wrong in a more significant way.  I was wrong to exclude myself.  And I was wrong to think that we get very far in this under our power.

There was a time when I considered myself above and beyond my past experiences.  There was a time when I thought that being ruled by our past experiences was confined to a select, traumatized few.

I suppose it’s entirely possible that I’m just wrongly… accusing the rest of the world.  It’s entirely possible that the only thing I was missing before is that I am one of the select, traumatized few.

All I really have to say is that not all that long ago, I would have looked at the things I was doing, the way I was living… and I just would not have seen how these are the result of things I thought and did before, dating back to when I was a young child. 

So maybe it’s just me.  But I think it’s all of us.

Even if there is an infinite number of possibilities in the world, I believe that we have a finite set of reactions.  When left to our own devices, these reactions aren’t wise, they aren’t good, they aren’t based on things that we are aware of.

Regardless of the diversity of the things happening to us, the ways that we respond are quite limited, I think.

I guess maybe this post is even gloomier than my last.  But, as I alluded to then, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  All is not as bleak as it seems.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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