Over my spring break I took some time to listen to the book “The Last Lecture” which was written by Randy Pausch and is based on the lecture he gave by the same title at Carnegie Mellon University in 2007. He was diagnosed with Cancer and used the lecture as an opportunity to pass on some advice to his children (who are small now) so he can influence them when they are older. The book was great and so is the talk. It is full of sound advice and also things that seem common sense at first but often we need to hear them again. I would encourage people to pick up the book or if you have some time to check out the video of his lecture below.
For those of you that know me well, you know that I have a strong opinion on just about any topic that could possibly come up and that I will be the first to voice that opinion. While some might suggest that having strong opinions is a bad thing I would suggest otherwise, I am more than willing to consider my stance in the face of evidence that I am incorrect. That is neither here nor there when considering what I wanted to be writing about, my topic today is one that I am actually surprised I haven’t written about yet and one that anyone that knows me may also be surprised about. Part of me has stayed away from writing about Faith until now and I have no idea why. So here it is folks, my first thoughts and reflections on faith and life.
So this week I was doing some casual reading while I was at the office and ended up reading an article all about the persecution of members of the Baha’i faith. Now this triggered my desire to learn and I fell down the rabbit hole that is Wikipedia and Google and started to learn as much as I could about just who the Baha’i are and how one would refer to them if one were to write a blog entry about them (This last one I am still not sure about). I must say that I didn’t really know what to expect but I can say that I definitely didn’t expect what I found. Essentially they believe that since we are all one race that it is time that it is united as one society by removing things like prejudice and discrimination. To be honest it was really refreshing to find a “religion” that has distilled their official doctrine down to something so simple and beautiful (Read more about it here).
Now to answer a quick question some reading might be wondering, no I am not in the market for a new religion or new beliefs, and no I am no further over the edge of sanity than I normally am. For me I have always had problems with the term religious because it lends itself to rigid us vs. them mentalities. My experience as a Christian boils down simply to Love God, Love People. While this seems really short and easy to say it has major ramifications and is complex to live out. Rather than rigid rules to be held to it is a more relational view point. “Do my actions follow with Loving God and Loving the people I meet?” Not always easy to answer but I feel that it sheds the us vs. them mentality that leads to church splits, holy wars, crusades, and just spats with other people in general. In practice I think that the Baha’i faith may be trying a bit too hard to include everyone by integrating all of the major religious teachers of all the traditions (Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Jesus, etc) although I think they may be on to something with their rational behind the integration. They suggest that many of the spiritual leaders carried the same timeless values (love neighbors, etc) but also provided needed structure and rules to the people of the time (dietary restrictions, prayer schedules) that in the context of their time greatly benefitted people but that, given changes in culture and society they are no longer effective or necessary.
Having spent some time studying church history I truly believe that the context in which scripture was written needs to be understood before teaching can really proceed from the text. Too often interpretations, translations, or just general humanity have gotten between groups of people in a way that isn’t healthy or productive for them or any future generations. At the end of the day all I can do is continue trying my best to love the people I interact with and to be as honest as possible as I can with them. It isn’t easy and I am never going to get it right every time but it is the motivation that provides momentum. I really think that there are a lot of lessons that Christians and Christianity can learn need to learn from the members of the Baha’i faith. The question is how warmly that idea would be embraced.
So last night I decided that sleep would be for suckers and stayed up the entire night, returning home at 7:30 am after playing and refereeing broomball all night in an all night tournament. Honestly it was a blast but by 6 am this morning things were moving at a much slower pace across the board. I recommend the experience for anyone though.
So now onto what one might refer to as the meat of this post. The other day I was killing some time reading a blog entry written by Dilbert Creator Scott Adams (Found Here) and it was good thought exercise I felt. For a long time I have spent time thinking about perception and what does it mean. Succinctly you could say that I stand firmly by the idea that perception is reality. When you take the time to recognize the ways in which you perceive the world around you I think that it opens up opportunities for a deeper understanding of who you are as a person and how you can have a greater impact on the world you are living in.
This is why I found Scott Adams’ blog entry about perception of how we came to be very interesting and I recommend reading it. I am not suggesting that this is the case but rather that when considering this perception it helps you to greater understand your own perception of the world you live in. The following is the opening to his entry.
Someday, when almost everyone is connected to almost everyone else via the Internet, I would argue that humans will have evolved into a single collective organism for all practical purposes. It would be much like the way individual cells of your body are united as one human.
Sure, humans aren’t physically connected to each other, but neither are the atoms in your body if you shrink down to their level and take a look. You’d see more empty space in your body than matter. So proximity doesn’t seem to be relevant to the definition of a living entity. It has more to do with how the parts communicate and act in a generally shared purpose for survival. Thus, when humans are linked via a central nervous system called the Internet, we can call humanity a newly evolved creature.
Humanity will eventually develop the scientific wherewithal to create new worlds, create new life, and manipulate existing life. And humanity will be immortal for all practical purposes, as long as it diversifies its parts across multiple planets, which seems likely.
I started today engaging a friend in a conversation about the fact that it is his birthday and today he turned Old™. Thus the train of discussion moved on to the the difference between turning Old™ and the point in our lives at which we start being Grown Up™. As I approach the end of my university years I have quickly realized that it is time to become Grown Up™ or I will miss the boat entirely. Well that isn’t exactly what I have realized, I have come to the realization that it is far more efficient to pretend to be Grown Up™, it has all the benefits with none of the negative connotations that come along with it.
The first act of being grown up that I have discovered over the last six months is following the news of the world around us. Once again I found a way to cheat and pretend to be grown up, and this is by getting my news through avenues like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Rick Mercer Report, etc. Shows that present me with the world news through a comedic filter. While it could be seen as cheating at being Grown Up™ I see it more as a survival technique. It is no wonder that being Grown Up™ is generally seen as a bad thing with the general negativity that surrounds news and the things of the world as presented by the media.
Even through a filter of comedy it has been made very clear to me that America and Canada are in dire straights when it comes to employment situations. Finishing my Ed degree I see it a lot in my classmates, people taking jobs across the country, and general anxiety over job prospects or lack there of. During this past summer I was told to take an online personality test, and being that it was a summer in Wolfville there wasn’t a whole lot else to do. In the end I was shocked at the description it gave of me and just how accurate it could be. One specific part that struck me as just another odd fact about me at the time was “This type of personality wants to experience the whole of life and may change careers more often than many other types.” (From Here) It seems that this is the way the world is going, that the idea of a life long career is going to be far from the norm. I am okay with this, mostly because I don’t have that kind of attention span, but I know that a lot of people aren’t comfortable with the idea, what with it being change and all.
Has anyone else made similar observations?