Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Talking to God, His Omniscience and Lightbulbs.

The academic question of ethics has been a passion of mine. I am convinced that there is a right and a wrong and that we as human beings are given the gift of reason to figure it out. I have described in an earlier post (The Beauty of Truth, July 10, 2009) about an assignment I gave my high school student which attempted to force them to approach moral issues from a logical rather than an emotional perspective. I mused about objective truth in Simon Cowell, Prophet (July 17, 2009).

The last six month or so, I have been in more of an emotional mood. I have been attempting to find truth through ways that are less rational. I have been tinkering with the idea that those who told me that certain aspects of the Truth, say Faith, are not provable by reason may have some credibility. The older I get, the more I see the grey. While others may find comfort in this as it could seem to give one more wiggle room with regard to the truth, I find it completely disconcerting.

My own faith has always been, at least to me, rooted in reason. I have grown spiritually through my intellectual pursuits. If I have a spiritual question, a moral dilemma, or don't understand a doctrinal truth, yes, I pray about it. But I THINK about it. I read about it, I put myself through mental gymnastics asking and trying to answer question after question until I come to a better understanding. There was often a spiritual moment involved. An idea or an answer would enter my head that was the proverbial light bulb.

For example, I was trying to figure out a way to teach The Omniscience of God to a group of high school juniors. I believed in this Truth, though I can't say I really understood it. How could God know ahead of time without affecting an out come. I began to think and think of how to explain the seemingly unexplainable. In the middle of the class, an analogy came to me:

My sister and I went out for lunch yesterday. I was facing the door and she was facing me. I saw her old boyfriend walk through the door. I smiled to myself picturing her turn around and see him. She would whip back in my direction and with her elbows on the table, place her hands on either side of her head and say, "OH MY GOSH. Did you see who just walked in the door. OH, MY GOSH! Does my hair look okay?" A few seconds later, she scanned the room as she was speaking. She saw her old boy friend. She whipped back in my direction and with her elbows on the table, placed her hands on either side of her head and said, "OH MY GOSH. Did you see who just walked in the door. OH, MY GOSH! Does my hair look okay?"

I mused to my students. Did I make her act this way? No. Was I somehow in control of her choices? No. I just know her so well, I KNEW how she would act. God knows us so well, He is of course our Creator. He knows us so well, He knows how we will act in each and every situation of our life. He does not control our choices. He simply knows what we will choose.

I have had similar experiences with everything from the morality of natural family planning to the Transfiguration of Christ.

I love this way of getting to know God. I love challenging my brain to try and grasp a small part of who He is. But for awhile now, I have been left with the feeling that this is not prayer. I have come to think I am not talking to God when I do these things, but talking to myself. I have been dealing with the premise that REAL prayer is listening to God. That we are supposed to hear with our hearts and not with our heads. I have tried to spend more time reading Scripture and then spending time in reflection or contemplation. I read God's word and then I try and listen.

If you read me much, you know I am not the most disciplined person. I often get off track and find when I should be listening, I am talking: Making connections in my mind, asking questions about what I have read, trying to figure out what in the heck, "Like mud in the trees" could possibly mean. Then like an excited child who speaks out of turn, I chastise myself and try to get back to the listening.

I read an article today in our Catholic Paper about ethics. There was a great quote in it. "People want to know what it would be wise and right to do; but they don't want to grasp a truth so lucid that they might feel actually required to walk in its light." I felt an old excitement that I haven't felt for awhile. I want to be required. I want to grasp.

Like all human beings, I fall short. But I used to know what was short and what hit the mark. Now I feel like a piece of drift wood trying to float in a straight line. I have been trying to shut up and listen.

And guess what...It ain't workin'!

When I talked all the time, when I thought all the time, I could hear God in my light bulbs. Now I hear crickets.

It just doesn't work unless I engage my intellectual side. And my thinking means talking. Unless I debate myself and those I read or talk to over one of the endless aspects of God the Creator, God the Redeemer, God the Sanctifier; I don't feel any growth. I miss those light bulbs. I miss the feeling that I have grasped the tiniest speck of truth and now am required to raise the mark. I still fall short, but I know what I am shooting for.

God is omniscient. He gave me my other half. And now that I think about it, while ours are not one sided conversations, when I am trying to figure something out, they are heavily weighted to my side. I think out loud, my husband listens, then he tells me where I am right and where I am wrong. They are just like the conversations I had with my dad. I don't mean to say either of these men is/was condescending. They are not telling me that I am wrong like a teacher to a pupil. They are telling me where they believe my logic is flawed and where it is not. I never considered these conversations to be talking to myself. I needed them to listen, to give in put, to help me figure something out. And I believe it is through my incessant talking that they often were able to figure things out as well.

God is omniscient. He knows me. I talk and wait for illumination. Well, wait may be a bit of a stretch, perhaps the illumination comes while I am talking. So maybe this was prayer for me. I certainly never assumed I was figuring it out by myself. I always felt He was in the conversation, it was just heavily weighted on my side.

Like the verbosity of this post, I use a lot of unnecessary words to get where I am going. But by talking which is my way of thinking, I usually get there. I am wondering today if that isn't such a bad thing. If it is how God expects me to get to know Him. It has certainly worked in the past.

I may quit trying to listen, as I am simply not holy enough to get very far with that. I may quit trying to hear with my heart and settle for seeing with my head. I may go back to the mental gymnastics and talking incessantly knowing God will talk over me when He has something He wants me to hear. Or will just turn on the light bulb to let me know He is there.

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