Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Finding Faith

From chapter 7 of Finding Faith – a self-discovery guide for your spiritual quest, by Brian McLaren, published by Zondervan 1999

The question [What is God?] has a certain charming naivete when you think about it. Who do we think we are – we small creatures with three-pound brains, a few limited senses, and life spans barely long enough to get to know our neighbourhood, much less the planet, and much less the galaxy, and much less the universe, and much less still its creator! Who do we think we are to be able to define or even describe the creator of DNA, galaxies, dust mites, blue whales, the carbon cycle, light, and a billion other realities we have no notion about whatsoever, no awareness of at all?

Yet even given our limitations, perhaps some real degree of knowledge is possible. Consider this analogy to my children. Imagine them when they were younger, say under eight. If you had asked them, ‘Who is your dad?" how would they have answered? They couldn’t have told you about my height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, or any other vital statistics. They were incapable of saying anything intelligent about my genetic makeup. They didn’t know much about my philosophy of life, what books I had read, what places I had visited, which degrees I had earned, what music I liked, how many languages I spoke. They certainly didn’t comprehend my sexuality or my financial position, nor could they identify with many of my adult emotions – including the depth of my love for them. My doctors, teachers and colleagues knew more about me, in these senses, than they did.

Yet in another sense, they knew me intimately, in a way beyond anyone else. They knew the smell of my skin, the feel of my hair (which I had more of back then) , the strength of my hands, the fine nuances of my smile. And more- was I faithful or inconstant, generous or stingy, forgiving or hard, playful or grim, kind or cruel? And even more - who was I to them? Who could know these things better than they? True, their limitations as children gave them certain disadvantages in understanding their father, but their relationship as my children gave them other incomparable advantages.
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