Reading and Thinking

Growing up I wasn’t the reader in the family.  During high school I can honestly say I very rarely read anything the teachers asked us to.  Summer reading lists were a joke.  In college, and I’m sorry Ma but it’s true, in college I think I maybe bought five books.  And the books I bought, I think I sold them mid way through the semester.  Words on pages never really got through to me.  I was a visual learner, touching and seeing!  I liked to explore things with my imagination, I still do.  My wife laughs at me sometimes because of the things I think of, sometimes she doesn’t get them and looks at me with confusion.        

It wasn’t until I was out of college for a few years that the written word found it’s way into an important role in my life.  I read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.  I have to say that this is the first book I’ve ever read cover to cover.  The first book I felt.  You know, not just read it to get through or where I skipped over the boring parts.  That book started something.  Reading was no longer a task that had to be undertaken but something I wanted to do with my spare time.  That feeling has only intensified in me.  Books have become a vessel, a carriage to some place else, to a place of wonder and understanding and excitement and laughter and joy and fear and expression and truth.  I have to say I love books!      

It’s through books I have had the opportunity to explore the biggest questions.  And it’s through books I have received some of the most profound answers to those questions.  Every Tuesday night Rheanna and I attend a small group through our church.  Our good friends Joy and Todd run it.  They open up their lovely home to anywhere between 5 and 15 people each week.  We read a chapter in a chosen book independently and then discuss it.  It’s amazing what happens when you combined reading, thinking, and discussion!!  Most every Tuesday when I leave that meeting I take away a new perspective on something, I learn and grow through the shared reading and the openness of that hour.       

It’s only through this type of action where we can grow and come to understand life.  Far to often in today’s culture we are told that all you need is yourself.  We are taught that Thoreau had it right and that Walden is in some way a manual, a “how to” book on finding life’s meaning.  In truth, we need each other.  Walden was written not 2 miles from Thoreau’s home, his mother would cook him meals and deliver them to the door of that cabin in the woods.  We all need each other.  This is the first point I would like to make.  Man can not live with out man.  It wouldn’t work.        

Secondly, we need to seek the truth.  I went to a smallish-medium sized college in DC.  A good school.  I got what I think to be a fairly good education.  However, I can remember being taught that there were no absolutes in this world.  No truth.  At the time I remember thinking about how nicely this concept fit in with my life.  Question everything!  Lovely!!!  It was easy!!  Since I was coming from a fairly secular background I had no problem with this.  I can remember students trying to argue God and being quickly dismissed by the professor, almost laughed at.  It wasn’t long until no one defended God.  It was strange.  We’ve become a secular society.  How did this happen?  Where did God go?  Has he been killed?  I attribute many of society’s problems with the lack of a belief in a one true, divine God.      

Many of the modern secular or no-theist movements in the United States today started in the 1960’s with the “God Is Dead” movement.  Time magazine published an issue with an all black cover with the words “Is God Dead?” in red.  Something happened in the ’60’s.  I think in many ways we are paying now for the free love and free spirit ideologies of the time.       

And even before the ’60’s it was Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophies.  Nietzsche wrote “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”      

This spoke to the belief that God and the bible could no longer be held as the source of a moral code or law.  That because humankind has evolved so much we can no longer believe in a cosmic, all being, truthful God.  It also leads to the notion that with the death of God comes the death of absolutes.  In a sense we are declaring our selves gods.  We control everything, can do anything.  No consequences for our actions.  Contrary to the rose-colored glasses worn by today’s atheists.  Nietzsche also relates, with the death of God will come a very scary, dismal and amoral human existence.

       I for one don’t want to live in a world with out God, as if that’s even possible.  I want to live in a world were love and truth are explored.  It’s my belief that the reason we are here is to explore God and Christianity.  Study it and make it our own.  Apply the teachings of Christ to our lives and get the most of every breath!  Live by example, with passion and conviction while remaining open to others.  We as human beings should be rethinking the bible and applying it to modern living.  I want to create a place of joy and freedom for everyone, a place where I want to invite you to come.  A place I’m proud of and more importantly a place God is proud of.  I want to tackle the biggest questions out there.  The hard ones!!  With all the answers I’m certain come many more questions but that is what living is about.  I don’t want to be a drone, give in to the easiness of today’s thought that we are just here.  You know, by chance!  Time + Matter + Chance = Life!!  There is so much more than that, right?!?!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Reading and Thinking

  1. nanis

    Very thought-provoking. As you know, I am not a “believer” in the traditional sense, but I do have a very strong belief system that includes a moral code. So I guess it’s the same thing really. It’s just a matter of whether you call it “God” or “the universe” or “mother nature”.

    I believe, yes, that people should be kind and thoughtful and loving. I may not think there is a being who will punish you if you are bad, but I do think we all need to look at ourselves in the mirror and it’s much better if you can feel good about it.

    I try to live my life in a way that is helpful to others and not harmful to any. The philosophy of “do no harm” appeals to me. Also, the Wiccan belief of what you give out is what you get back.

    Jon, you have made me think a lot, and that is always a good thing. Keep writing!

  2. nanis

    (You inspired me to write the piece about the Grover book… Thanks!)

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