Choosing a Right-Side-Up World

I love to learn new things. I love to hear new ideas. I am in a constant state of expecting to be interested or astonished at something that I come across. There is a vast expanse of books on an enormity of subjects in a variety of languages all striving to elucidate the reader on an idea or collection of ideas that the author or authors have poured over and studied and poured their passion and intelligence into. I marvel at that. I marvel at the sum of knowledge humanity has amassed and continues to expand. I don’t believe we’ve yet reached the limit of what the mind is capable of. I am humbled by this when I recognize how limited my own mind is by comparison. I have loved reading studies and speculations about the universe, its origin, its growth, and of what it’s comprised. I see a correlation between the universe and the breadth of thought. Throughout the history of human experience and study there are some spaces of shallow ideas, as in the universe there are asteroid belts and immense stretches of barren space. There are ideas that spark bright and glow but with time fade like dying stars, there are planets with gravity and magnetism that are dead rocks carving an elliptical arc through space. There is a place where life is abundant and complex and there are black holes that seem inescapable. It’s an imperfect comparison created by an imperfect mind. The aim of my thought as it bounces around those vast expanses of empty space in my mind, is that throughout the history of human thought there are some thoughts that last, that seem eternal, that are lit upon by a variety of cultures at a variety of times, and there are thoughts that seem to be just emerging. And while I am often intrigued by the new thoughts and believe that they bear examining, I am convinced that there are certain thoughts that have seen the whole of history and still survive. Perhaps not shiny new and appealing in their luster, but made of such solid stuff that they have not been worn away or damaged by the years.I’ve read “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott at least half a dozen times. My love of this book goes beyond its ability to make me laugh and cry, and to the gentle way in which it preaches to me to strive to be my best self, to combat my demons, and to strive to make the term “Woman” synonymous with: Strong, Brave, Honorable, True, Steadfast, and a dozen other virtues. Of all the chapters and passages in the book there is one in particular that has stuck in my memory and which I often have occasion to recall. The episode involves Jo, a young woman and burgeoning writer, finding herself in a room of highly learned men discussing new philosophies and theories, she is enamored of the things they’re speaking of and sits enthralled. Her friend, Professor Bhaer, grows worried at how entranced she is and tries to pull her away but she remains and finds that the ideas are intent on dissolving the world as she has known it, the Philosophers invite Professor Bhaer into the discussion and he speaks passionately for the foundations that have existed, namely for God, and while the men with whom he has engaged carry on in their ideas, his remonstrance has broken through to Jo and she finds the world right again, and she is so thankful that someone stood up in opposition to the wild ideas.(34.41.2-44)

There will always be “new” ideas, some not exactly new, simply rebranded to appeal to a subsequent generation, the ideas presented are worth hearing and addressing but I have found that their merit seems to lie almost exclusively in their desire to offer an alternative to a single idea, millennia old. The new ideas are bright in part because they don’t require anything of those that follow them, and are therefore free from ever being associated with the failures or faults of their followers. There have been those who have mounted many offenses against God, and most of them lie in the failings of those who have claimed to or striven to follow Him, yet God stands, and more than that, He does not abandon those who have failed Him, who have made themselves mock able, for their imperfections or egregious failings. One of my favorite passages in all of scripture is found in James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” It seems to me it is when those of us who claim to seek after God, desire to follow Him, deviate from these instructions things go horribly wrong. When churches start preaching something other than the Gospel which is, “…the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16. We have been granted truth, what an incredibly amazing thing! And truth is an incredibly difficult, glorious, awesome, hard, terrifying and beautiful thing. It cuts me to the quick at times. But I would choose a hard truth over a soft lie every time.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry is in a magical maze, and comes across a magical mist which, when he steps into it, turns the world upside down and he feels his feet are glued to the earth, convinced that to come away from the earth would be to fall into empty space, he has two choices one of which is to take the next step and try to get through the mist. He takes the chance and the world is suddenly righted again.  (31.144.3-155.1) So many of the new ideas I’ve read about have a grain of truth in them. As if the thinker started off with a genuine desire to convey something deeply meaningful to mankind but in the course of it they deviated from the truth and didn’t take the next step to come back to it. They are hanging upside down from the earth and perhaps to them it feels like taking that next step isn’t worth the risk and they’ve convinced themselves their upside down world is exactly how it should be. It might be exciting to live in an upside down world, that feeling of almost falling can be quite intoxicating, but more can be discovered in heaven and on earth be living in the upright world than can be dreamed of in those philosophies.

I am not the most eloquent defender or perfect example of what it means to be founded on Truth. But I am convinced of this. Anyone who believes something is true has an obligation to defend it and to strive to reveal it to others. There are so many things that I’ve heard Christians offer as incentive for why to believe in Christ, many of those reasons are emotional, the Joy, the Hope, the Peace, and these are beautiful and wonderful possibilities within Faith, but they are not everyone’s experience. Some of us struggle with depression, anxiety, sorrow, and yet we would still share that this Christ, is the One worth following because even without wonderful feeling, there is incredible, inexhaustible, undefeatable Truth.