Tuesday, April 19, 2005

We live in interesting times

To say that we live in a world of change would be a statement so obvious as to be akin to saying that stop signs are red octagons. There are always some who can find exceptions to the rule. Stop signs in some areas might not be red or octagonal. But most people know what a red octagon means even without the letters S-T-O-P written on them. Similarly, there are those who note not how much the world changes, but how much things stay the same. Or SHOULD stay the same. Or SHOULD go back to how they used to be....

I'm a seminary graduate who currently works in a seminary. I see this tension all the time. As a Christian, I often am with people who think about the "timeless truths" that our religion seeks to deal with. I also work with people who constantly struggle with how to take those truths to "an ever-changing world" (to paraphrase my seminary's mission statement). I interact with people of many different backgrounds within the Christian tradition all the time. Many who I disagree with very strongly. Some who it's difficult to maintain a veneer of civility with, despite my best efforts. And this is just within the Christian tradition, with it's many demoninations, and cultures, and ethnicities. As I look outside of Chrisitianity, the differences only become more visible. (Though not always more contentious, strangely enough.)

I personally often struggle with the need to maintain belief in certain "truths" while acknowledging the need to be flexible enough to address the needs of a world that is always in a state of change. Observers to the right of me would accuse me of being "relativistic," while observers to the left of me think I'm too "rigid." That's just life. But it still hurts to feel so misunderstood.

I've been a fan of the toy line known as "The Transformers" ever since the line started over 20 years ago. More than two-thirds of my life. I was very happy yesterday to learn of the arrival of my 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime figure, a toy which I had passed on purchasing when it was in stores a year ago because of the high $75 price, but for which I recently took advantage of an offer to get free if I joined up with both a DVD club and a CD club. Since my wife is a musician and a movie lover, it seemed a good way to go. I've often thought about the parallels between these toys that "transform" and my faith in a God who "transforms" human lives. It's a parallel that none of the toy designers intended, I'm quite sure. But I think it a useful analogy all the same. There is some sense in which we need to change. We not only cannot stay the same, but we are created for the purpose of change. This is not a statement ignoring the reality of some "timeless truths," but merely an honest observation of the changing nature of the world we live in. The trick for me continues to be finding out how to balance those two realities.


  1. An interesting and insightful way to begin one's foray into the blogging world. I've been thinking about some of the same issues in light of a friend of mine's struggles with really desiring to be "orthodox" and falling short of it in his convictions. Perhaps something to blog on in the near future :)

  2. Thanks. It seemed appropriate today as, once again, the world sees a person welcomed into a position of power who's good at holding to doctrinal "truth" but less positive about the kind of change that is needed to help people understand the real power of Christ in their lives.



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