Why do I think that?
A few posts back I shared some opinions on various topics. Most of the comments were very positive, reaffirming. I suspect that those with opposing views were polite and said nothing.
Why do I think the way I do? Why do I see things from this or that particular perspective?
Some of it I can easily point out as biblical. Others come from a general world view shaped by things I have read, classes I have taken, experiences I've had.
Some of it is my personality. I say that because there are things about me that the arguments regarding nature and nurture do not seem to touch, traits absent from my siblings. From the moment I was born I was unique in many ways.
Some of it is cultural. For those dear readers out there who are in such faraway places as Finland, the Phillipines, Norway, Malaysia, Australia, the teenager who visits from Iran, there is something about being an American you may not understand. I know we often seem brash, sometimes rude (I think it is a tourist thing), but there is a passion in us that makes us a touch boisterous. We have a cultural filter which influences how we see things. It is shaped by the movies of John Wayne and the music of Bruce Springsteen. It comes from loving martyrs of freedom and justice, such as Abraham Lincoln. It was tested by the fears of Joseph McCarthy, "Duck & Cover" drills, and the sacrifices of our 16 million men and women who fought in World War II. We love our country, and regardless of how the world may view us, we are intensely patriotic and we want to help the world be a better place.
Some of how I think comes from Him. He lives in me. Sometimes my filters do not block what is the heart of all truths, and I get it right.
I believe there is an innate sense of justice, of right and wrong, which tells us what is good, true, correct.
But it isn’t always easy to see it clearly, the filters of my life, things I have read, things I have learned, experiences, nature and nurture, filter my experiences, coax me to see things a certain way.
I am blind to many truths. I can’t see them because of the attitudes and views I hold. I am also blinded by filters imposed by others.
There is the political spin put on everything we hear, whether it is from our politicians or from the media. I remember our president, returning from a fund raiser on a golf course with his arm around FEMA director Mike Brown as they stood amid the destruction of hurricane Katrina, telling us what a great job they had done in preparing for that storm. On the other side of the coin I see the constant barrage of negative news from Iraq. Yet I know of many good things happening there,e not covered, not shown, filtered. It seems everyone has an agenda, a reason to filter what I see, what I hear.
We have a filter on the internet for our students, for excellent reasons. It is site specific: each site is individually added. There is a lot of stuff out there that needn’t come into a school: porn, violence, hate... I haven’t any objection to that sort of censorship.
Apparently this filter casts a little wider net. Blogs of faith are not permitted and have been blocked. If you have a blog that is linked from this site it is likely it has been blocked. I checked.
Here are my blogs which have been blocked.
http://jobstale.blogspot.com/ (this blog)
Even my blogs about literature have been blocked, simply because they are mine and I have written about faith. I suppose it is all about the separation of church and state.
I hadn’t realized I was such a subversive influence! Fortunately this censorship does not extend to all ideas and views. I can still get Al Jazeera through school computers. Shakespeare and the Bible also seem to be intact.
I’m wondering about the other filters in my life. The places I don’t see because I choose not to look.
Who might be living under the Molalla River bridge on the highway? Is there a family living in some of the parked cars I see at the parks? Is that hispanic woman with the two kids in tow returning the bag of pop cans for their deposits eating enough healthy food?
I wrote a few weeks ago about a man, the brother of a friend of mine, who has been estranged from his family. He has been begging on the streets of Boise for years, living on an island. Imagine wading out through that river during an Idaho winter.
Tom was a Vietnam vet. His long hair, wild beard, were the outward signs of his age, his struggles. A closer examination would have revealed the shrapnel wounds from the war, the paranoia.
One day he knew something was wrong, that he needed help. He went to the hospital. His family came. He had a tumor in his brain. He died last week.
This is a sad story that I am sure is repeated throughout our country, throughout our world. Wasted lives, spent in wasted places.
The wondrous twist to this story is that at the last possible moment, while his mental facilities were slipping away, in a moment of lucidity, he prayed The Prayer. He opened his heart. He learned about love. He was baptized, and he slipped away into eternity.
"A Heart of Stone Rolls Aside"
"A Heart of Stone Rolls Aside"
Who am I not seeing? Who needs my help? What can I do with that innate sense of right and wrong that He has given me?
Is my love of science blinding me to elements of my faith? Are my political views filtering out ideas that may be true? Do my experiences color the way I see others? I need to seek honesty, truth, see past the filters of my life.
I chose a passage of scripture to study for Lent, but I keep returning to another passage.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. --1 Corinthians 13:1-2
That should be filter enough for me.