Wednesday, January 12, 2011

False Meanings in the Decision-Making Process

The title of this painting is Women's Work Telling Fortunes by Harry Roseland, (1865-1950)

I am once again drawn to this issue of decision-making, especially when it comes to the Christian.

The main reason is that I'm in the middle of an exhausting process of creating a brand-new medical practice. Words can not describe how much work this has been over the past few months. But, as things are coming together I'm finding myself in the position of having to make several risky (financial) decisions.

After being at a high point last week, due to some complications (it would take too much space to describe here) I have been really down the last two days.

I started to think about how I would have approached this as an evangelical. I would be constantly reading supernatural meanings in to every juncture and chain of events. Even my down feeling would be seen as a sign from God, to bail. I remember backing out of many things because of "a negative spirit." But now I see it as the normal human nature . . .without any significant meaning to infer.

The second point that brought this up was the terrible shooting in Tuscan. There is so much talk out there about that situation. I keep hearing though, how people are trying to make some kind of meaning or sense out of it. You know, the Tea Party is responsible, or there wasn't enough police, or the liberals are too soft on crime, or guns are too plentiful or guns are too controlled. Then I sense the fringe Christian people moving in to make sense, like that flaky Baptist pastor who wants to protest the funerals, believing that all bad things are God's judgement on American for condoning homosexuality. So bad events draws "meaning - claimers" like a piece of warm, stinky meat draws flies.

The third thing was, of all places, on Oprah last night. They had this couple who's three small children were killed in a car accident. The couple mentioned the dumb comments that some people said to them such as, "God did this for a reason."

But then, like reading tea leaves, Oprah made a big point about them having a miracle and they agreed. It certainly sounded like a miracle. A year later, the wife gave birth to three babies, and just like the children, whom they lost, it was one boy and two girls.

It sounds like a scrip of a miracle. But if you listen to them closely, you see normal (healthy) human actions behind it all. They were lost without their children. One of them were sterile by choice. They choose to have in-vitro fertilization. In that process they choose to implant three embryos, one make and two females. My point is that there is nothing wrong with that. But there is this underlying meaning-economy where nothing has value unless it is directly from the spiritual world, from God or occasionally from Satan.

But the problem with that superstitious kind of thinking, besides making poor business decision, is the inevitable disappointment. What happen's when it is your child killed? Can you still, honestly, say that "God did it for a reason" and still love that God who you think did that to your baby?

My whole point with this blog is looking at the world differently. It is reappraising (with much higher value) the cause and effect of this physical universe. The laws of physics, human nature (including laws of psychological dynamics) DO matter. In C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, he describes the grass in Heaven as diamonds to his feet. Maybe that is true, that Heaven is a greater reality. But this reality . . . well, is real too. Grass feels here, like grass. What I mean, it isn't a vapor. You can slip on grass and sprang you ankle. A semi can skid on the asphalt and crash into the back of a car, killing the little helpless children in the back.

I feel blue at times, when I face disappointment or when I'm tired. This doesn't have to be the Holy Spirit doing a major event in my life, telling me to do X or Y. Nor is it, like my Nav friends use to tell me, that I'm being oppressed by a demon. Like the real grass on the real ground, I am a real human being with real emotions and there isn't anything deeper going on here than that.

Trucks crash and kill children because of many factors of physics and biology. There is no personal meaning in that (where the events were caused by the deliberate will of a "person," usually a supernatural person). Most the time, these events have no meaning. They have reasons which can be expressed in mathematical terms if you wish, but no intended purpose.

Even the terrible shooting in Tuscan has reasons . . . even without a meaning. God didn't allow it or do it to punish us, or teach us. The reasons are complex and have to do with the internal (mental) climate of the individual doing the shooting.

I've always said that mental illness is usually not an issue of reason or logic, but of perception. If you could have been in the shooters mind, the paranoid perception of the world could possibly end up in the the logical conclusion that it is best to eliminate everyone. I'm speaking in logical terms. I don't know the man's mental health history nor am I attempting to make a diagnoses. Certainly he was mentally ill. No one can advocate violence unless they are.

But cause and effect resulting in mental illness doesn't erase blame.

The center of the blame lies at the feet of Satan himself. I say this without posing to do the same error of making meaning by tying earthly events to the spiritual. But Satan is the father of lies. We are drowning in lies. The worse lying is where we lie to ourselves, and we all do it.

I tell myself that so and so hates me or I can't do such and such, or that so and so intended to harm me, or that God doesn't really-really love me. I don't know all the lies this shooter was telling himself, but they must have been off the radar.

Then, we have cause in effect in our behavior. I don't know if the shooter's problems were connected to a brain defect, drug abuse or being abused as a child or who knows what. But I'm not justifying his heinous crime. He still made choices. He choose to continuing lying to himself, like I often choose to lie to myself.

I've taken the tangential road once more. This posting was really about decision making and the search for meaning in the mundane . . . and in the horrible.


Anonymous said...

I think a pretty relevant passage is Luke 13:1-5, the passage about the tower falling. I would say what Jesus says lines up with what you are saying, in those specific situations at the very least.

Eagle said...

MJ....Your business decisions are subject to spiritual warfare..didn't you know that? Satan has influenced this blog to much!! :D

MJ again I hear you. Due to my involvement in Campus Crusade, and other fundgelical ministries, etc... I once attributed everything to God's will. That could include taking my job, decisions made with finances, etc.. Its part of the reason why I lost my backfried on me. But the extremes that people take decision making to is frightening and down right cultic.

Let me tell you a story. I live in the Washington, D.C. area. When I was in the evangelical sphere of influence I helped my small group leader move. Over a soft drink (he was engaged at the time BTW...) he told me this really disturbing story. He is in the orchestra of this mega church that brags about 15,000 attending and one of the leaders of the orchestra pulled him aside to have a talk with him about sex as he was going to get married. The orchestra leader told my small group leader how he had to involve God in every aspect of the decision making process of when, where and how to have sex. The orchestra leader told him that when he and his wife had sex, they would stop and pray to see if it was what God wanted them to do. Then they would seek the Lord's guidance on which sexual position to use, etc.. This conversation shook up my small group leader, and for me was really disturbing.

But I think that's how the fundegelcials operate. As disturbing as it is, its easier to live in the black and white world as decision making is easier.

I wonder when my next agnostic get togther will be!! :D Man the stories I can hear there on topics such as this!!

Anonymous said...

I read lots of facebook comments about how the tragedy in Tucson should wake us all up to the power of our words, how the vitriol must be kept in check, etc... While that all may be true, I kept thinking, "Dude. The guy was a paranoid schizophrenic."

Sometimes meaning is right in front of our face, and we really don't need to go looking for deeper reasons to sermonize with. If any one lesson should have come out of the Tucson shooting, it would be a greater awareness of mental illness and the importance of early discovery and appropriate treatment plans.

But, whatever. That's way too boring, mundane and NEEDED to make for a good sermon. So nobody picks that one.

I'm a believer that there can be deeper things going on behind the scenes, as it were, things we can't always see, things in the metaphysical realm, things that can have great meaning for us, etc. I just get really annoyed when one has to stretch really far to get them, or when one plasters them all over someone else ("God must have wanted your kid to die,") in idiotic ways.


jmj said...

Eagle, that story sounds bizarre and I would say hard to believe if it wasn't for the fact that is brings back memories. I don't have memories of the sexual situation but I do remember having this string tied around my Bible. It reminded me to pray before I opened it. Then I would open it randomly and pick out a verse for the day. In that verse was a hidden message from God that had absolutely nothing to do with the author's purpose in writing that passage.

M, I too noticed a great absence in the national discussion regarding the mental health issues. Mental health funding is being cut left and right especially since the states are running deficits. The shooting should have brought Parn-Sch to the forefront of discussion instead of name calling between the political right and lefts. The shooting was not a political problem, nor does it have a political solution, except for increasing funding and research for mental health issues.

Eagle said...

MJ...I agree with your commnets about mental health and the shooting. I have a close relative who is a paranoid schizophrenic and its been tough on my family. In the past I was invovled with NAMI to educate myself about this disease. But you are correct...mental health budgets are cut left and right, privacy laws affect treatment, and another sad point is that the mentally ill is not a group that can really speak up for itself. You see how seniors get about cutting Medicare, or Social Security, etc.. Too many mental ill people can be too sick to lobby or argue for more funding or research.