Voices

Pinning down water

An interview about truth evaporates

Issue: "Middle East: No easy answers," May 31, 2003

I ASKED FOR AN INTERVIEW AND IT WAS GRANTED. We sat over tea across the kitchen table, across a chasm, and I asked, "Would you mind telling me about your worldview?" "I don't have a worldview," said the bright 22-year-old, whom I love, and I blurted, "But you do," and then bit my tongue because I had promised myself to be a listener only this time. "If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame" (Proverbs 18:13). And then again, "The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome" (2 Timothy 2:24).

"Why is it that you reject the Bible?" (I grabbed at plan B, my original nondirective approach being stillborn.) "I don't reject it all," she said, and proceeded to excise the objectionable parts: the vengeful God, the God of rules, the God who likes war, the idea of a racially chosen people who were originally more special.

I shall never be a good interviewer. At this point, do you jump on the logic problem of rejecting some parts of the Bible and accepting other parts? Do you broach the inconsistency, the presumption of setting your puny self up as final arbiter? Or do you go for the question I did next: "Is it possible that you have misread the Bible?"

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No answer to this.... "I don't believe Jesus was fundamentally different from other people, not son of God in an exclusive sense.... He came to set an example, to show what was possible.... I'm not sure if I believe in reincarnation. I do believe in Karma in the sense of cause and effect...." (Whoa! too much, too fast! I should have asked here, "Are you uncomfortable at all with the fact that Jesus' view of Himself and claims for Himself are at odds with yours?"-but the question got away.)

From here I was given to know that there are two opposing forces in the universe, love and fear, and that all negative emotions can be broken down to fear or ignorance. "No such thing as sin, then," I inferred, correctly. "No, not in the sense that you mean," was the reply. (The phrase "in the sense that" got a big workout in her explanations, many propositions, evidently, being true in some senses but not others, and even opposite propositions being simultaneously true if viewed with the right lens.)

"How about the guy in Texas who unhitched his tractor-trailer at a truck stop and left a cargo of illegal Mexican immigrants to a sweltering death trap?"

"I don't believe that there's a God who punishes people, who judges. It's cause and effect, and someone like that man will be unhappy."

"And that's enough? No one has to pay?"

"Although I don't necessarily believe in an afterlife, there will be a continuing in some sense of what he was, into another dimension. Then again, maybe not, maybe his soul will dissolve, and there is no individual consciousness. And he could always come to awareness, and learn from what happened, and become love. It's all about understanding who you're not so that you can become who you are."

"And that's it! Off the hook?"

"He may have to feel what he has done for a while."

"How long is long enough to feel what he has done?"

"I'm not sure."

"Is five years good enough? Ten? ... How about a week-if it's a real BAD feeling?" (Reader, have you ever tried to pin down water?)

(I change the subject.) "Are you at all uncomfortable with the fact that all these beliefs of yours come out of your own finite brain, and that you are just a hiccup in the universe, after all, a bit of 'ooze' coughed up out of chaos?"

"I don't believe that."

"Do you really think that you can start from yourself to reach the Truth? How can you ever escape subjectivity, and the charge of solipsism?"

"How can you? Do you really think Truth is in a book?"

"I'll tell you what. The only hope in the world for escaping the prison of subjectivity is if God Himself-the God who is not a zucchini or a force but distinct and personal-has broken into time and space to reveal Himself and to save."

Communication broke off here, and one of the parties walked out on the interview. I am giving myself bad marks for love and sensitivity, while still hoping that, in God's sovereignty, some bread cast on the water will return in many days (Ecclesiastes 11:1). And I am also thinking that if truth cannot be more intelligently discussed than what we just saw here, then the rational faculty of man was a dirty trick played on us by the universe.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again. Follow Andrée on Twitter @Andreespeterson.

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