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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

In what do you trust?

Matt and I went to college together. He was the best man in my wedding. We talk frequently and email all the time. We know each other.

We also both love our families very much. In fact, both our families include a mom, a dad, a daughter, and a son.

We both give to charity. We both believe that science has made the world a better place by revealing truths of the natural world. We both think capitalism is the best economic system. We both think Christianity provides a pretty good moral code to live by; we both think religion has been used as a tool to cause much suffering on the planet; we both think the Bible is a collection of writings by faithful followers of the Judaism.

One of the very few differences in our demographic statistics is that I believe in God, and Matt does not believe in God because Matt knows that God does not exists. But the question is: So what? What difference does my fidelity to and trust in God matter since we are so similar in so many ways?

Investigating the Sermon on the Mount may have revealed a difference. Here is the verse we were talking about, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven." My take on this is that it is a truism that it is risky to vest your security in your preparation in the world. Matt's take on it was that it was an outdated reflection of an uncertain world that no longer exists--or at least has to exist for guys like me and Matt and everyone who reads blogs.

Wealth and job security, and even loved ones and health, can be easily taken away from us. Of course, we should be responsible with our finances and relationships and our bodies because there is no reason to make problems. But, the most secure way to live, is to trust in something more than us. The most secure way to live is to trust in a universal goods. To have a faith in the God, or Karma, or the cosmos. Not only is it a faith in something that cannot be taken away: it allows us to fully and fearlessly experience our world that includes wealth and family and health.

Okay, I would really like to hear your thoughts on this. Is this crazy mumbo jumbo? Have I crossed the line into the fanatic? Come on, let me have it.

4 comments:

Jim said...

Hi Jim,

I've had both wealth and poverty. I must say wealth, or to tame it down a bit, an ability to financially live a decent life,
is better than scaping through. In
either wealth or poverty I find a hope that gives me the strength to
to move on day by day -- to see a better day progressively with each step.

While I believe in a higher power
I still buckle down to succeed bascially on my own, or what seemes to be on my own. I find luck or being in the right place, or just a new day. I slip through to find a rainbow.

I do believe in 'now' because to not believe in the 'now' is denial.
The God who accompanies in this cyclical life often gives me a boost, a new surge to find a new perspective, thus a measure of success in the here and now.

He/she wants me to give a last bit of strength to find a better day, if I'm not able, he/she is on the spot with either advice or a bit of 'luck' or a piece of good fortune.

Since I'm not a believer in heaven I hold on to each day as the last with a strong sense that to end it now or tomorrow would be foolish.

I'm not sure about laying up treasures for the future, but I do
try to fortify my spirit to trust God: the force, my fellow
traveler in this sojourn of life
to help me to suceed or at the very
least not crumble into nothingless.

There is no bottom line for me,
but there is a parable, a spirit,
a faith, a love of myself, Kathy,
my children, friends and the world.

I find open doors, new vistas
even at age seventy-four, probably
because of a blind, but sure faith
in a processing, an unfolding life
partnership. You are a part of that
loving group of sojouners.

My best, Jim

Matt Dick said...

Okay, you brought the concept forward from the earlier post, so ignore my comment there.

I'm stuck a bit on what the difference is that you're seeing.

Can we guarantee a financially secure future? Never 100%, but I would argue that the difference between the future of my 6 year-old son and the 6 year-old son of a 1st century fisherman's son is so great as to be a complete step-change.

Do you not agree?

Perhaps the difference is the definition of "future". I believe each us graduate into oblivion upon death. If that's the case, the "future" you are securing is as long a life as possible at the highest quality you can secure. Note: I believe harming others does negatively affect your quality of life so while I think it is a strict calculation, it is not so simple as it sounds.

In simpler terms: I believe the universe exists in an entirely self-contained manner -- there is nothing beyond worldly concerns, to the extent that love (and like concepts) are worldly. I do not believe that anything of you exists beyond your death -- other than your impact on the lives of others. Without this external reference frame, there is no where else on which to store your treasures but Earth (so to speak). If you spend your life in poverty for its own sake, you've wasted the only thing you'll ever really have.

I struggle with this, because I can't get my mind around how anyone can live a thoughtful life and believe there is something other than the natural world.

For the benefit of the observers, I will reiterate, you and I have known each other a long time. My admitting that I can't imagine a thoughtful person having your perspective is a comment on my imagination, not your thoughtfulness. I know you to be thoughtful and intelligent -- moreso on both counts than I -- so this is really a shared inquiry, not an argument.

JimII said...

I believe the universe exists in an entirely self-contained manner -- there is nothing beyond worldly concerns, to the extent that love (and like concepts) are worldly. I do not believe that anything of you exists beyond your death -- other than your impact on the lives of others.

To the extent that love is worldly is the foothold I hope to explore in order to answer you question about how a thoughtful person can believe in something more than the natural world.

I don't think I can say, "Look at love! Aha! you have to acknowledge more than the natural world." And of course, I realize that faith and love are not the same thing. However, my faith was born and shaped out of love.

I need to think about it. But I think that is a starting point.

Matt Dick said...

You're right that it can't as simple as pointing to love. I believe in the reductionist perspective that the mind is what the brain does, and as such, love is pretty easy for me to reconcile as a brain function.