21 December 2012

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment

“Nicholas Carr writes in The Atlantic in an article called “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (hint: yes), “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words.  Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet-Ski.””

-A. J. Jacobs – “The Unitasker” (The Guinea Pig Diaries:My Life as an Experiment)*

It’s been a while, I know.  Since I last posted my family and I have embarked on our first Active Army PCS move.  I’ll not go into details, but let’s just say that I’ve been a bit busy with the move, settling in with a new unit, helping wrangle/take care of my son, spending some quality time with my family, and reading when I can.

So without further ado, here goes:

I believe that the lack of depth in serious critical thinking in our society has theological ramifications.  As Christians, many of us skip along the sea of inch-deep theology and simple self-help answers, rather than embracing any sort of willingness to break the surface and struggle with diving deep.  A vast number of Christians prefer to hear, for example, that the Bible means one thing, and one thing only.  Questioning such ideas is declared anathema by numerous churches, or at minimum, one’s faith in God is questioned.  Millions of Christians seek “yes” or “no” answers to questions that are impossible to truthfully answer with a “yes” or “no”.  We seem to want to skim the surface of theology, of our relationship with and understanding of God rather than diving deep into the murky depths of the life of faith in a triune God.

I get it.  Life is not easy.  We live in a complex world filled with natural and moral evils, as well as all the other general complexities that goes with, well, life.  With that said, however, my family and I were driving around some of the little towns that surround my new duty station.  As we were exploring the local area, taking in all of the sites that make up rural Louisiana, we came across a church sign that basically stated that in a world filled with problems and difficulties the church (or maybe just that particular congregation) offers simple answers, that Jesus makes things easier.  I couldn’t help but scoff.  Actually, I’m still scoffing.

Hope and simplicity are in no way the same thing; they’re not even remotely synonymous.  Yes, Jesus Christ offers us hope in the now and the not yet (hopefully) through the church and the coming Kingdom.  But Jesus does not make things simple or easy.  I’d argue that if we were to take Christianity seriously, that if we were to take our faith in God Incarnate seriously, then Jesus makes things, makes our lives, far more complicated and complex.

And this is a good thing.  We should not fear complexity.  We should fear simple answers to complex questions and problems.  As the church, the community of faith, we should be willing to struggle with the complexity of life together, just as millions of faithful Christians have done since the earliest days of the early church.  We should search the Scriptures together, just as John Wesley directed.  We should offer confession and forgiveness to one another.  We should hold each other accountable, but we should never say that the Christian life is simple or easy.  Maybe it has become easy, but its roots, its essence, shows us a beauty and depth far too vibrant and real to ever think a simple “yes” or “no” faith would (or should) suffice.  We must be willing to trash the Jet-Skis and don some scuba gear.

*Jacobs, A. J. The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.

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