Can I be real a second?
For just a millisecond?
Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?1
Is there more truth in logic or stories?
Even my most casual acquaintances know that I like to have my beliefs well-argued. I’m ultra-focused on logical support, try to be an “idealist”, try to understand how the world works and how the world broke and how the world is supposed to be put back together, and imagining somehow that there is “the answer” out there for all of it. Name an issue that I’ve ever been concerned with, and I’ll show you the long list of Biblical references and how they all tie together in cultural and historical context to explain my position on it, along with the modern sociological and scientific explanations for why I chose one particularly way of fulfilling what I see as our duty on that issue.
Yet one of the answers I keep getting, from both the Bible and the science, is that logic isn’t always where it’s at. We are far more influenced by stories. Even our own internal logic, though it feels like it drives us at times, might not so much be the cause of our actions as the justification for them. It reality, our feelings and relationships and the ongoing story we develop about our lives could influence our decisions much more than any rational deliberation about a particular choice.
So we try to tell the stories on this blog. Highlight the moments in our life that explain how we ended up where we are and demonstrate what we have found.
Though I know the stories are more effective, I still want to think there was a logic to it all too. That we made this decision to be here because it was the “best” thing we could be doing to follow the way Jesus has led us in life.
Since my experiences with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship around the turn of the millennium, it has appeared to me that community was essential to living out the Kingdom of God. So many aspects of how we act, how we share, how we love others, make more sense in community than in isolated lives.
Since my first experiences with the Gospel (go Mark study!) around that same time, I have understood that Jesus had a special concern for the poor, the hurting, the marginalized, and thus the community that I wished to live out the Kingdom of God within had to involve those “others” in an essential sense.
Since my first experience living in a slum in Manila in 2006, it has seemed to me that the slum was the place where community with the urban poor could be most naturally found. A home like those of our poor neighbors, where you could walk out your door and immediately greet them outside their doors, where every aspect of shared life could occur.
And as I read the state of world events throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, it became apparent to me that more people had to take the prophetic move of crossing racial and especially religious lines in building those shared lives. That despite our ever-flattening world we had disparate cultures which threatened to break up into segregated ghettos of distrust and hatred, always ready to lash out in violence towards other communities we could not relate to or understand. I wanted to be someone who stood in the gap and relayed something across to both sides.
So is that why we ended up here? Because we made the perfect logical decision about what our faith, world events, and practical considerations combined to tell us regarding how we could best love God and our fellow humans?
Or was it beyond our control, a moment on a beach or a word directly from God, and all my logic (logic I undoubtedly feel others should follow) is really just a cover for my own unique experiences that led me here quite apart from any choice I had in the matter?
I don’t really know. So we’ll keep sharing the stories, and from time to time the logic too, and by hook or by crook maybe some other people will find a reason within all that to make their own decisions.
Where have you found truth?
 Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Right Hand Man”, Hamilton. Yeah, I caught that bug for a couple months.
5 thoughts on “Why are we really here?”
I am also someone who considers himself a logic-oriented person, yet finds myself making non-logic-oriented decisions. Despite being intensely skeptical, I’m still a believer. I’ve never been able to put my finger on exactly why other than it just… is right.
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HAMILTON REFERENCES ON POINT, first of all. (and I think I can take quite a lot of responsibility for that bug)
Anyway, I like to think I’m quite logical. But when I think about the future and the way decisions I make now will affect it, I become quite irrational. Like, is my entire future already determined and God knows what I’m going to choose and how that decision will affect me? Does that mean I have no free will? What will my future look like, and how does my current decision align with what I want to do in the future (and think God wants me to do). Was XXX a sign or just random? If I hadn’t prayed about XXX situation, would it still have been resolved? I get a bit confused with theology/free will/the future.
Also, I think I want to live in a developing country, maybe india, and serve the world in some way (future me gets to figure that out, lucky her!). But first I have to get through university Not In India. And I logically know I can start serving God now, but then I want to leave it all in the future. I’m confused.
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Thank you for sharing so openly Shar! 🙂
Soon after marriage Cathy & I were deciding where we might go to work. Logic suggested Sudan. In those days (the 90s), Sudan was in the midst of a civil war. We could have gone to Kenya and used our skills to help run relief trips across the border to one of the neediest places in the world. Did we go? No? Why? I was scared to work in a war zone.
It seems to me that we make decisions for a whole range of reasons; what seems logical, what seems right, what has a good chance of success, what feels right, where my skills might be used, where my ego might be inflated and where I won’t be too scared.
We are complex beings. I suspect the best we can do is to be honest with ourselves and each other about our motives and then do the best we can.
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And there are layers to it too. Were you scared to work in a war zone because of stories you had heard? Or because of statistics? Because of something you had heard about war zones in general or Sudan in particular or some other war zone in particular? There are layers and layers to it and it’s amazing what can have large impacts in the end, what can have effects we would never have realized.
It’s possible that we aimed for the region we are in, and not another region of the same country, as well as the slum we are in and not a different slum in the same city, because I had a very emotional reaction to watching Hotel Rwanda about six years before we came here. And because of a book that was sitting in a friend’s room four years after that. Strange connection, eh?