Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Real World Postmodern Skepticism

Yesterday I drove up to Alpental Ski area to catch a few hours of skiing in the afternoon before a planned evening outing with my son. The backcountry at the top of "chair 2" is home to some of the most spectacular scenary and challenging skiing anywhere I've been (Canada, Colorado, Austria). So you can imagine my disappoint when I disembarked from "Chair 1" only to find a rope strung across the trail to Chair 2, with a "Closed" sign hung on it. I skied back down and as I rode up again, asked my lift mates what was up with "Chair 2". "The cable came off the pulley earlier this morning - they needed to use the snow cat to get everyone down."

My next trip up, I asked different lift mates the same question and was told, "A pulley cracked. They're replacing it - should be up and running soon."

My third trip up I heard: "They lost power up there and the backup generator isn't working."

Fourth trip: "One of the lift towers broke and is leaning. It's closed for the season."

By the fifth trip, I'd stopped asking, and stopped believing the unsolicited answers I was given. I was disengaged, having lost all hope of really finding out. It's not that I didn't believe there was a truth; only that I doubted anyone's ability to fully know it and accurately declare it to me. The same skepticism is understandable in other realms, such as religion, where there are more interpretations of what God expects of us, and who he or she is, and what will happen to us after our last breath, than explanations for all the broken chair lifts in the world. So, having heard conflicting truth claims under the banner of Christianity alone, it's not uncommon for people to disengage, skeptical that anyone really knows.

In such a world, when it comes to truth claims about meaning, the greatest validation will come from those who are living meaningful lives. If my life pursuits are related to self-serving, consumeristic, protectionist activities, I don't have a very compelling invitation to Christianity - even if my arguments for the resurrection are watertight. That's why how I live is actually more important than my capacity to defend truth propositions. If I live well; generously, lovingly, joyfully, truthfully - then my life becomes a compelling invitation, even if I can't defend my faith. Conversely though, I can defend it with fierce logic, to the last jot and tittle, but if my life simply reinforces the values of surrounding culture, I not invalidate my truth claims and make the gospel ugly.

Truth? Most people are weighing our lives based on HOW we're living - so let's get on with it: Love deeply. Pracitce Hospitalithy. Live Generously. Or to put it another way, do what the Lord requires of you.


PS - I leave for Montana on Sunday, and hope to have internet access. If not, expect a spat of entries next weekend!


At 14/3/06 20:40, Blogger Kristi said...

Thanks - I needed to read this today!

At 15/3/06 09:07, Anonymous Bob Werner said...

Richard, what a great truth! We are all witnesses...the question is "to what are we witnessing?" I pray that we would have great knowledge and wisdom regarding Christ and His Word, and that through His life in us, our lives would reflect that knowledge and wisdom. Only then can we turn the world upside down...



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