Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Doofus For Christ

(For unedited version see "The Journey")

Regular visitors to my blogs know I’m a rather strange guy. I write a lot of stuff about all sorts of topics, blending science and faith and technology and personal history with bizarre connections.

I’ve always been a little odd. I wasn’t the sort of teen my father thought I should be, I wasn’t the sort of student my instructors expected, and I’m not the usual sort of member of the congregation in my church.

I’m a doofus.

Just as I tripped over my suddenly too large feet as a teen I still trip over my words, my interactions with people, with ideas that don’t seem to fit in with how others see the world.

The best way to handle my social awkwardness is to keep my mouth shut. If I don’t say anything, if I smile and nod, then folks assume I agree with them and I don’t find myself attempting to defend the unorthodox views I hold.

For example, I embrace science and faith and have little difficulty in seeing how they blend smoothly together. But... many who share my faith bristle at notions of evolution, the Big Bang, quantum mechanics and the age of the universe. Likewise, my favorite magazine, Scientific American, occasionally prints opinion pieces about how foolish faith is in the light of scientific reason.

Parties from both camps will sometimes bait me, try to get me engaged in some silly debate, attempting to force me to defend one side or the other.

I do my best to slide away from such topics except with those I trust enough to share the real me.

I was in a little gathering today, a group discussing the book The Shack by William P. Young. It was suggested that one should approach the book in two ways. One should read it as a novel, just enjoy the plot, the spinning of a tale, and not take it too literally. Meanwhile, to compliment the first, do not accept all the ideas it presents without engaging the mind, comparing it to what our book of faith, The Bible, has to say. I added that there is a third way to approach the book as well, by reading it with the heart.

What I meant by that is the book attempts to describe the indescribable, and it may not hold up to our biblical scrutiny or our own visions and interpretations of God. But, the heart of what is being described, the feelings and emotions, the spiritual responses we might feel, should also be a component in our examination of the novel.

Some around the room smiled at that. Some looked confused. A few had that knowing look, the one that says, “Greenleaf is one strange guy.”

But that piece of literary advice I offered got me thinking.

I know I am a foolish man with foolish ideas. I know that in attempting to wrap my mind around truths as esoteric as the nature of the Creator and how the random workings of the quantum universe results in the apparent order in Newtonian Mechanics, I am playing with concepts and fantasies that I really know very little about. It’s a little like taking the kindergarten class finger-painting virtuoso and asking her to expound on the fine points of Jackson Pollack. Well... perhaps that is a bad example... maybe Salvador Dali... oh... er... Rembrandt, yeah, Rembrandt.

Sometimes I am embarrassed by how goofy I am. I regret that sometimes I make those around me feel awkward.

For example, in church today, I felt like being demonstrative in my worship. I usually don’t let anything hinder me, but today, I knew that my wife would feel awkward if I raised my hands too high, if I shed a tear, or bowed low. So, twice I slipped off to the back of the sanctuary and worshiped where no one was watching. Just because I am a doofus doesn’t mean others need to see it.

But sometimes it is OK to be a doofus.

King David was sometimes a doofus...

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.
2 Samuel 6:14-16

(If this is a little confusing, an ephod was a type of apron, and the implication here is that King David was wearing ONLY that.)

He was acting a little bit like a doofus.

But, he was acting that way because he didn’t care what anyone else thought, he wanted to dance and sing and love God with abandon.

I think the apostle Peter might have been a doofus at times.

He lept out of a boat to meet Jesus walking on the water... Of course, miracle though it was, he grew afraid and began to sink. Matthew 14:29-31

His heart was bigger than his abilities.

He once said that Jesus would not, should not, die and rise again. He really put his foot in his mouth there. I think he was trying to say, from his own inferior perspective, that Jesus would never die. But he got slapped down pretty hard for telling the Son of God what He would or should do.

He also had other times he put his foot in his mouth. He said he would die for and with Jesus. Jesus told him otherwise.

Later he opposed Paul, and subsequently realized he was wrong.

Peter was a big guy, with a big heart, and often a big mouth. A kind of doofus for God.

I have a lot of failings. I’ve often made a mess of my life. I’ve made mistakes in my marriage, in my parenting, in my employment, in just about everything I have tried.

I am full of strange ideas, and sometimes I open my mouth and tickle my tonsils with my toes.

I recognize many of the wondrous gifts God has given me, but too often I take false pride in them. Silly man who feels special because of a few talents he did not create on his own. Sort of like running around and shouting to the world that the Lord God has given me an... ARM! Uh, yeah.

I try to balance pride with self-knowledge, false modesty with humility, but I fail at it constantly.

And I am realizing this: I’m a silly man, suddenly older than he thought he was, and unable to control what he thought he could, and thinks about things that are almost certainly completely in error... but... I love God with all of my heart. I screw up in following Him properly all the time. But, I am unashamed of my faith, and I think that though I am such a screw up in so many ways, I think that God is pleased with my heart.

So... I may stumble over my own feet, over my own tongue, but that is OK.

I’m a doofus for Christ.


pecheur said...

Let me say I was encouraged by this post. Thanks.

Doofus or not. I think you are pretty cool. I know this is not a popularity contest, but I like your openness and honesty.

Bad Alice said...

I love how you described reading from the heart. I know exactly what you mean. I'm a doofus sometimes. I'm a bit more fearful about it, though.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled onto your blog from Martha Martha and think that what you describe sounds pretty reasonable so I guess that makes me a doofus, too! Science and faith, why not? The first time that I saw Saturn through a telescope, I was ecstatic and in awe. I also agree that people get awfully nervous when artists attempt to "describe the indescribable" but that's what artists do, right?

BTW, amazing art made more wondrous by the fact that you did this with written prayer??? Sad that you paint over it but cool at the same time. Sometimes, my prayers consist of improvising at the piano things that will never be heard again which is probably mostly a good thing; but, good or bad, they are solely for God's hearing.


View from the Trekant said...

Wonderful post - I feel the same way about science and faith. I think where they seem to conflict is an area where we don't know enough.

A suggestion - I love to look at your art - any plan to put them as organized links on your sidebar?

Love your blog! Trekant