Sunday, September 10, 2006

The more things change, the more they stay the same

I remember very well my first continuing education class. Looking back on my education, I had attended elementary school, high school, college and graduate school. I had received my final diploma. But in a profession, in order to keep up with the changing times, we take occasional classes.

Within the first minutes of this continuing education class, a gentleman who was easily 20 years my senior raised his hand to ask a question. “Isn’t it true,” he starts and then launches into a long drawn-out question that really wasn’t a question but more a demonstration of the depth of his knowledge in the area.

My first thought was, “I can’t believe it! I thought I had left you long ago. We had one of you in high school. One of you in college. One of you in Law school. And just when I thought I could finally escape this nonsense, there you are again!

As I looked around this class of maybe 40, and we spent the next eight hours together, I realized they were all there. Every one of them. Sure they had big impressive degrees now—doctorates—but nothing changed.

The take-furious-notes-on-everything-said, and in the process killing numerous trees person was there. Did they ever look at those notes again? I mean seriously, it might be shorter to tape the thing and hear it over and over and over…

The wacky-question guy. You know. The one that starts off with “What if…” and then provides a hypothetical that could not possibly happen unless the earth turned upside down, but there it is.

The sit-in-front-girl. Yeah, the one that immersed themselves in the course, talked to the teacher afterwards, and acted as if they were obtaining the cure for cancer.

The read-another-book-in-class person. The doodler. The tapping-pencil-drummer-wannabe. The sleeper. The duck-out-early guy. (*cough, cough……me*)

I honestly think if we spent another day together we would have separated into jocks, nerds, druggies and cool kids.

I have become involved in my children’s soccer programs. And as I work within these programs, I start to recognize the same personalities, and the same situations as my former Churches.

I missed the socialization and interaction of church. If you look back at my blog, it was one of the first things I blogged about. Being human, I have sought out other areas in which to socialize. And I see realize that there is no difference in the humans involved. I see the same me when being involved in church as being a soccer dad.

If you attend church, you know the person who actively takes charge and runs numerous programs. They are in charge of VBS. They often are in charge of the kid’s programs, or Adult Sunday school. Rarely are they the actual Chairman of the Board, or even the Chairperson of the committee. They leave those titles for others. They are there to get things done.

Our soccer association staged a tournament, inviting other soccer associations to come along. The person that got things done was not the Head of the association. At best at the manager level. But everyone that wanted to know what was going on, or what to do went to her. Even the head of the association.

There is the person that has to have things organized. Everything alphabetical. The “1997 taxes” in the “1997” folder. There is the person that never has a title, never has a specific responsibility, but faithfully is there from early in the morning to late at night, working constantly, whether folding papers, picking up garbage, directing traffic—whatever.

And, unfortunately, there are equally the others. The parents that are never involved, never do anything, but complain about how everything that is being done is being done incorrectly. HA! Admit it! As soon as I said that, a name popped into your mind. Maybe at church, maybe at school, at work or some other activity. Always there, aren’t they?

Or the persons that simply are never, ever are involved and are so inactive that complaining is too much. Oh, you know they exist, because their children magically appear at the start of the program, and disappear at the end. And you could swear you once saw the back of their head in the mini-van as they left the parking lot.

Or the person that develops a pet project, and we absolutely MUST drop everything else in our lives and become fully immersed in this project, as it is SO important. But if you have a request, they are far, far too busy.

The person always late, the person always early, the person that shows up every week for two straight months in a row, begging to be involved, and then disappears until next year. The person you can always count on to substitute teach, and therefore is always substitute teaching. The benefactor. The busy-body. The Butcher, the Baker, the Candle-stick maker.

As I looked about the various persons (call me “the person-who-labels-others”) there is no difference in a group of soccer parents and a church. None. Oh, the topic is different, to be sure, but substitute “Jesus” for “soccer” and I think the conversations and personalities are interchangeable.

“It seems Jesus/Soccer has fulfilled my life.”
“My Sunday/Saturday revolved around Jesus/Soccer.”
“Are you coming to the Game/Church?”
“Want to do something after soccer/Church?”
“Jesus/Soccer has focused my child’s attention.”

See how neat that works? While we don’t pray to soccer, we hope just as earnestly that our kid can score. We do cheer louder than church allows!

I have noticed, and talked before on how little changes in the morals between a believer and a non-believer. Equally, I see no change in personalities. Is there anything different, anything divine about a Church? Should there be?

Should we have the complaining and grumbling in churches? I would think that asking for workers would mean that each time churches would have to turn people away. In a church, with persons touched by divinity, we should hear, “I am sorry, but we don’t need any more people. Maybe next time you can help,” rather than what I so often heard: “Gulp. Uh…I hate ask you…I know you just did this last week and all…but no one else can…” (read “will”) “Is it possible for you to help out just this one more time? I promise that next week we will have someone…”

We have all sorts of arguments about theism. Philosophic, scientific, emotional, and rationale. While it may not be convincing to others, one of the strongest reasons I see no God, is that I see no divine touch.

If I placed you in a continuing legal education class, a parent-teacher association, or a church, and turned down the volume on the speaker—could you tell the difference? Could you say, “There is something different about the people in that last group.” Or, like me, do you pick out the same persons with different names and different faces. But the same persons.


  1. Am I the only cheerleader around here?


  2. "one of the strongest reasons I see no God, is that I see no divine touch."

    My hunch is that the reason we, as modern man, find it difficult, if at all possible, to recognize this concept of divine touch (spiritual connectiveness)is because of the influence of moral relativism as evolved by secular progressivism. By this, I mean that we are swimming in information..literally bombarded by influences not our own through technology enabled media sources. We are exposed whether we want it or not 24/7.
    This divine touch must have been more readily recognizable to Christians in the past because it has survived these last 2000 years. Yes, I am not surprised that the leap of faith is much broader than it ever was for many of our contemporaries and understand fully their doubts. We are shaped by our environment. Even if this leap falls short, its not a disaster. Its always a soft landing.

  3. [quote][b]Paulie: [/b] The authorities tell everybody else what God thinks and says, which amounts to telling them what they are to believe [/quote] This is an extremely important point. People have learned that by prefacing a statement with “God says...” the statement gains power and weight far beyond just the person saying it. Sadly we have watched the Bible be turned into a sword to implement power, simply by a person picking out a few choice and preferred verses, to the exclusion of others, and loudly proclaim “God says…”

    If I asked a Christian to join me in killing all the homosexuals in America, because God has blessed this land and determined it to be a Christian Nation, I would be considered a nut. However, if I preface the exact same statement with “God says…” I would be considered a prophet.
    [quote] And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: "Take vengeance on the Midianites for the children of Israel. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people." So Moses spoke to the people, saying, "Arm some of yourselves for war, and let them go against the Midianites to take vengeance for the Lord on Midian. (Numbers 31:1-3) [/quote] God didn’t speak to the people. Only Moses did. Yet by claiming it came from God, genocide began.

    discernomatic – who told you that God is offended by certain thoughts? A human. Who told you that God was teaching people to have self-control in the area of thoughts? A human. Who told you that thinking about sex is the exact same as adultery? A human. Who told you that if your hand offends you, God wants you to cut it off? A human.

    The only difference is that the human (and often it was actually another human) claimed it came from a God. Do you hold that every statement a human claims comes from God—does? Of course not!

    So, a play on your moniker—what method do you use to discern what human is accurately talking about God, and what human is not?
    roman – thanks for the comment.

    You are quite right that we have more access to information than our predecessors. Very likely our grandchildren will have even more, through even greater developed media.

    I am uncertain as to how this would affect God, nor how it would reduce the demonstration of divine touch. In fact, I would think the more information available, especially considered God is claimed to the very author of information, the more readily discernible the divine touch.

    If our society has become more moralistic relative, than an absolute moral would begin to make more of a stark contrast. It should stick out even more.

    I have often thought (even as a Christian) that Christians should not complain about the degradation of society. It makes them stand out more. In the 1950’s, how hard was it to be “Christian”? (in quotes because I am asking about the outward appearance.) Everybody went to church. People wore ties to baseball games (!). No swearing or nudity on the TV. Just by being an average American, one looked 95% Christian.

    As society gets worse, I would think that those who were affected by God would stand out more. Yet is that what we see? Or do we see the same numbers, the same problems in the Christian community as compared to others. Remember, I lived in it—I know. While anecdotal information is not proof, even the statistics bear this out.

    Is it harder for people to be Christian, now? Why? Has God changed? According to Tacitus, Christians were dipped in oil and used as Garden lights under Nero, yet people were converting in droves. NOT being able to view porn on the internet is so much harder, now? Being thought of as “conservative” is so much more traumatic? Being forced to actually drive last year’s model automobile is something that was inconceivable when the Bible was written?

    I would hope, roman, that the divine touch would be MORE obvious in a morally relative society, not less.

    Nice to see ya, by the by. :-)

  4. It is true that if one dressed and acted like a typical Christian from the 50's today, one would be called a freak or worse.
    As a society, the west's values have been corrupted to a point where other groups, like the Muslims, view us as freaks or worse. Small wonder they mistake us for devils.
    Modernism (technologically induced) has played a part in disconnecting us from our spirituality. Information overload is one area of interest. When the mind is preoccupied with constant minutia there is just no room for introspection, a state necessary for perceiving spirituality. My hunch is that humankind has not evolved sufficiently to be able to process and eject the 99.99% of input and clutter that we really don't need. For many, just the daily everyday routine is a struggle to maintain a sane existence. Is it any wonder that the divine touch is not recognizable? Most modern humans are already at the stage where even the words divine or spiritual are devoid of any meaning. We cannot find the thing we seek unless we know what the thing is.
    Being a human myself, it is impossible for me to convey to another what spirituality or the devine touch is. The bible is replete with wiser men than I who have a less than perfect track record for "selling" the concept.
    I know it exists, however, and I've caught glimpses of it throughout my life. At least I think I did.

  5. As a Christian I could say every second of time was a Divine touch...everything spiritual.

    As a non-Christian I could say the same thing, it's just that the terms are no longer associated with a Divine Being.