Epistemophobia revisited

Epistemophobia

This is something I wrote a little over two years ago with the intention of following up with a few related posts. Obviously, I didn’t. Why am I bringing it up again?  Well, I was listening to a sermon recently and it got me thinking. Below you can read or re-read what I had written but first here are a few thoughts by way of introduction.

First, I think it’s normal to fear knowledge to some degree. I’m thinking specifically of learning new things which either a) force us to abandon a previously held notion in favour of something else, or b) push us to gain a better and clearer understanding of a previously held notion. This fear intensifies as the idea/belief being examined and challenged grows closer to my core and fundamental worldview.

Second, thinking about this from the church insider point of view, it’s interesting to see the defence mechanisms the church has built around this fear and to protect what it believes to be true/right/correct. It’s more than a simple fear of being wrong. It also very quickly becomes a strong dislike, even hatred (holy hatred of course), for anyone who would propose a different take on a commonly held belief. Especially when that someone is within the community or has influence on the community in some way. This is not only true of the church.

Third, The term “heretic/false teacher” is tossed around and associated with people who hold theological ideas that don’t line up with our own. There is an invisible line that you simply cannot cross. If you do (if you dare), you are regarded as a disobedient, rebel, unloving and divisive person who should be warned and shunned (out of love of course) lest you lead others astray.

Remember when Galileo insisted the earth was not at the centre of the universe (a.k.a. Heliocentrism vs Geocentrism)? Maybe you missed it. It was a little while ago after all. What I find interesting about that little piece of history is the pushback Galileo received from the people of his time. Not only did some people within his own field react strongly but so did the Church. Of course, as we know very well today, Galileo was right. At the time people weren’t in much of a hurry to accept this ‘new’ knowledge as true.

The Church, for example, had this to say about it. They concluded that heliocentrism was:

foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture. (Source: Galileo Galilei – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Why is it difficult to accept that something we think is true may not be? Or that something we believe is true may be slightly different than we think? The Church figured that Galileo must be wrong because there are verses in the Bible that seem to suggest the earth is a the centre of the universe and doesn’t move (Psalm 93:1; Psalm 96:10; Psalm 104:5; 1 Chronicles 16:30). How can the earth revolve around the sun? After all, Ecclesiastes 1:5 clearly says that it is the sun that “rises and sets and hurries around to rise again.”

It reminds me of a saying I learned growing up:

The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.

Did the Bible get it wrong? In Galileo’s day they certainly didn’t think so and Galileo was treated harshly for it. But today, even the most serious christian has to admit that on this side of history, knowing what we know about our solar system, those verses are to be understood as expressing the human experience within the limits of the author’s knowledge of the world in his or her day. It’s writing from ones own point of view. That, by the way, is the best any one of us can ever do.

So back to the question, why is it so difficult to accept that something we thought was true might not be? It’s unsettling sometimes. Especially in regards to issues that are more fundamental to our particular worldview. If I got that wrong, what else could I be mistaken about?

I was listening to a podcast on my way home from work this week and it got me thinking about this. Trey Pearson was being interviewed and he said something about knowledge that stood out to me.

That is the interesting thing about knowledge. We are so scared of it sometimes ‘cause it might mean something is different than how we thought it was.

Are you Epistemophobic? Can you remember moments when you realized some fundamental things you had always believed were in fact incorrect? How did you feel? Was it a positive or negative experience? What is your default stance toward those who hold different, maybe even contrary, beliefs?

Prayer Might Not Be What You Think It Is

Prayer might not be what you think it is.

You may have heard stories of people who prayed for something, maybe for a loved one to be freed from cancer, and it didn’t happen. You may also have heard similar stories of people who prayed the same prayer and their loved one did heal from cancer. You may have heard stories about people praising God for sparing their home in the aftermath of a tornado while the house down the street is ripped to shreds.

Hearing these stories and considering my own often gets me thinking about prayer.

The idea of Santa Clause isn’t all that far-fetched when you think about it. Ask the guy up north and make your requests. If you’re good he’ll give you what you asked for, if you’re not, well, try again next year.

Prayer is often approached in the same way. Pray to the guy upstairs and make your requests known. If you’re good he’ll give you what you asked for. Unless of course he doesn’t. If you’re not good he won’t listen. Unless of course he does.

Prayer is quite arbitrary if it’s just about the answer because the answers to your prayers are quite random. It’s like a roll of the dice. Some heal and some don’t. Your house is left standing but not the other. There is no answer. It is what it is. Maybe it’s all part of a bigger plan, maybe it isn’t. It certainly feels nice to believe there is a God in control. I’m not suggesting there isn’t but rather proposing that our understanding of “control” may not be accurate.

Regardless, on the ground it doesn’t make much of a difference. You may or may not heal. You may or may not get the job. Things may or may not go your way. Whether or not they do is perhaps not the point.

Think about it. If prayer is about the answer, we’re constantly left scrambling, trying to understand and making up explanations to make sense of things. God answered because of this or he didn’t answer because of that. The gymnastics involved can be quite exhausting and ridiculous.

Why pray? It must be about more than just answers.

Perhaps prayer makes more sense if it’s about your disposition. Prayer, if anything, is about positioning yourself in awe and wonder or maybe in anger and confusion. It’s an acknowledgment that most things, if not all, are out of your control, arbitrary and chaotic.

Prayer, then, is preparation for what is coming. It is to say, “while I do not have control I choose to remain in the moment and roll with the punches. I will not give up and surrender. I will not lose hope. I acknowledge how easily I can become angry, jaded, self-centred and cynical. I don’t want that.”

Prayer, not unlike other approaches to meditation, is about zoning in on your heart, your soul and your attitude vis-à-vis the variety of things going on in and around you. If you believe in God, your prayer is addressed to that God whom you believe is in control and working to make all things good. Others will find their center within themselves, something or someone else. The purpose is the same. To be whole. To live well. To make sense of things. Opening yourself up to listen, observe and hear.

The thing is, prayer might not be what you think it is. What if it’s not only about what you ask for and not only about whether you get the answer you’re looking for?

Every Couple’s Love/Hate Relationship with Intimacy (Part 4 – Key#3)

Create your own Eden. The bible portrays Eden as a kind of paradise. A place of unity and intimacy. The picture that is painted for us is one of perfection where there is a kind of interconnectedness allowing for peace. Conflict is absent from Eden. One does not need to view Eden as a literal place to understand the picture that is painted for us. Continue reading

Failure

 

failure post

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook brought back this picture we had posted back in the fall of 2013. I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was an exciting day. We were at the restaurant drawing out plans and next steps for our new adventure called church planting.

When I saw the picture on my Facebook feed, it got me thinking about failure.

Failure. No one likes it. There are always well meaning people who will be quick to say that it’s not failure, it’s a growing opportunity.

Sure. I know. You know.

When it happens it still feels like failure and still needs to be processed for what it seems to be. Whatever it was you were trying to do did not work. You set out for something and didn’t make it. You failed. Technically. Continue reading

Every couple’s love/hate relationship with intimacy (Part 3 – Key #2)

Dream, but embrace the mundane. This is not Hollywood after all.

intimacy key#2

My kids will sometimes comment on how unexciting their lives are compared to their favorite youtubers! “They are so lucky!” they say. “Their lives are so exciting. They get to have fun all the time and do awesome things like have a foam pit in their living room and a pool in their basement and an amusement park in their backyard! Our lives are so boring.”

What can I say? Continue reading

Every couple’s love/hate relationship with intimacy (Part 2 – Key #1)

Here we go. As promised, we will explore 9 keys to cultivating and maintaining intimacy. Check in on Thursday mornings for the next little while to get your weekly key.

Intimcay series key#1

Let’s begin with Key #1 – Your story

We are complex beings; a mix of beauty and brokenness. We are, each one of us, a story being written. Our stories are unique and yet they all insert themselves in a bigger narrative.

You are a story. A story that wants to be told, heard and understood. A story that wants to be known. You carry dreams, desires, expectations, joys, hope, sadness, fears, wounds, disappointments, strengths, weaknesses, ambitions, etc. You have a past that was shaped by a variety of factors, most of them outside your control. You have inherited things you never asked for. You have made decisions, good and bad, that have contributed to the path you are on.

Being in a relationship amplifies and multiplies this complexity by merging two very different stories. Both stories wanting to be known, told, heard and understood. That is why it is good and necessary to be aware, to accept, to be open and honest with what is going on inside. Whether we understand it all is beside the point, but being true and letting our partner in on it is a key element to intimacy and growth.

To be aware is to see and acknowledge what is there. To accept is to embrace where you find yourself regardless of what went into getting your there. The good and the bad. It is what it is. To own is to take responsibility for your story (not in an “it’s all my fault” kind of way but in a “this is my story and I will be honest about it” kind of way). To discern is to know the difference between the good and the bad, what you did and what others did to you, what you control and what you don’t.

Your story is yours alone. No one else can tell the same story. You. Who you are. What makes you who you are.

Intimacy involves letting someone know you and enter your story. It also means you are willing to embark in this person’s story as well. There aren’t many things that can be both exhilarating and haunting. To know and be known truly.

The idea of being known creates fear and anxiety. Will this person still love me once they know me? Will they stay if I let them see who I really am?

Intimacy is risky. Like anything risky, it’s tempting to stay away. For those who enter into it properly, high is the reward.

 

Every Couple’s Love/Hate Relationship With Intimacy (Part 1)

intimacy series picIf you’ve been in a relationship for any amount of time you know that intimacy doesn’t just happen. You know that simply being together does not guarantee intimacy. You probably have many stories to tell of moments when you felt distant from one another, maybe even somewhat disinterested. This distance in a relationship can happen over time but it can also happen overnight. Continue reading