Spiders on LSD. And Me.

I heard that some scientists gave spiders LSD. While this sounds like the beginning to a promising joke, I don’t have a punchline, really. To the best of my knowledge it is true. As the story goes, the spiders constructed these amazing webs that completely lost track of the big picture, got hung up in the details, and made something rather useless.
A google image search turned up the photo below. (Do you ever just hope somebody takes a look at your search history and wonders about you? Seriously, the terms “web from spider on lsd” will now turn up on a history of my web searches. That is kind of awesome.)
Now, I don’t have any of the gory details. I don’t remember the source of this information, so God knows if it’s even true. (But if you saw it on Google Images… It must be true, right?) But that’s not really important.
The important thing is sometimes I worry that maybe I have a little more in common with a spider than I care to admit. In my last blog post, I set out aiming to explore how missing a part of the pattern that plays out over and over has these real and terrible consequences for our view of what humanity is. I got pretty quickly all caught up in “frozen” and “fractals” and some other stuff.
At the end of that post, I promised I would get back to the topic I intended to hit. And, well, I am about 250 words into this post… and … well, I still haven’t got there, yet.
Thanks for baring with me. Let me get to the point.
We Christians, we spend a lot of time and energy telling people how bad they are.
I think I should probably say, at this point, that there is something terrible in us. We do awful things. We are broken and desperately in need of being fixed. But there is a universe between being bad and being broken. And there is a universe between doing bad stuff and being bad.
I realize that last sentence makes me sound kind of like a weeny. I can live with the idea that I sound like a weeny. In fact, if saying that makes me a weeny, then don’t let me be a … non-weeny?
I am not trying to down play our ability to do evil. We are– all of us– capable of terrible, terrible things.
I get it that lefties like myself, at their worst, can talk and act as though the world is rated g, and nobody should be held accountable. I know that progressive Christians can seem like they are denying the profound things that happen when Eve and Adam fell from the garden.
(Do you see what my little progressive self did there? I said ‘Eve and Adam’, with her name first. I bet you maybe tripped up on it, because we get used to saying the man’s name first. 🙂 )
I am not setting out to deny the importance of sin.
I am setting out to contextualize it, though.
The fall didn’t happen first. Even the word, “the fall” implies that you had somewhere to fall to. Before the fall you had to be higher up, or you could not have fallen at all. The fall is an incredibly important thing to happen to us. But the fall is not the first thing that had ever happened to us.
Humanity did not begin in evil.
It began with God’s image.
God breathed life into us. He made us in his image. In some deeply important way, we are a reflection of Him. If we are a mirror, we have become cracked and flawed and tarnished. But we are still a mirror. A mirror that can be reclaimed, recleaned, reshined.
Sin is not the first word and it is not the last. It is something that occurs now, in this terrible middle. You and I are redeemable. We are able to be rescued. God has decided it is worth a terrible cost to Him to do so. I think if we really internalized this, everything could change.


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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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