Chronicles in Ordinary Time 37: destiny


Just watched a Hallmark-y sort of movie; one with more steamy romance than would appear in a Hallmark movie. At one point one of the characters asks the continual question–why does someone die, and someone else live? In this case, ‘does life have a plan?’ She asks the question of her church-going mother, who, fortunately, doesn’t give one of the standard church answers. She gives the best answer possible, in my opinion. I DON’T KNOW.

We live in a death-filled world. Far more death than I remember ever hearing about, growing up. Watching the previews for coming attractions, one finds an incredible amount of death and violence. My wife was asking why we Americans keep making so many movies filled with death and destruction? It’s probably not limited to Americans, although it seems that we glorify it, dramatize it, more or more expensively than other countries. Our newscasts, news outlets are filled with death and damage; people play innumerable First Person Shooter video games, overly-graphic novels, movies, TV shows, sports… Violence fills our world. We send children overseas to fight in wars that have few rules; and wonder why they come home broken.

I’ve heard the words, “God has a plan for your life,” for four of my six decades. I don’t know if this is true. I can’t necessarily argue with it, but I think the concept fails in the same way that the term, “Intelligent Design” fails. Yes, there is a tremendous amount of design involved in Creation; on the other hand, there’s the appendix. Good design for 90+%, but then there are those inexplicable problems. If it really was Intelligent Design, why would the avocado have such a big pit? I don’t see how anyone who has ever built/created anything can believe that all of Life happened because two atoms bumped into each other randomly; they have far more faith than I. Creation requires a lot of work, and a lot of design.

The BioLogos Foundation supports the notion of “theistic evolution.” Life evolves, according to a starting direction; and it works out the details over time.  First, I think it’s incredibly arrogant for us to attempt to make statements about how Life works. About as arrogant as one of those squiggly creatures under a rock, telling me about Stock Market choices. In my early Christian years, in college and after, I finally became comfortable with the analogy of playing chess with a Grand Master–if the Master didn’t get totally bored by the game, there wouldn’t be a move I could make, by my own free choice, that the Grand Master wouldn’t be able to accommodate into his/her strategy. And the Grand Master would win, every time.

Do I have a destiny? I believe my Destiny is eternity in the presence of the Creator, whatever that means.  Do we have adventures after we die? Possibly; why else would we imagine adventure? For all intents and purposes of a miniscule human being, the Universe is infinitely big; and has room for many adventures. Do I have any idea how “adventure” might be defined in an eternal context? Nope.

Helicopter Rescue
I was talking of Eternal things with my chiropractor the other day. Not quite on the order of why my CG nephew died attempting to rescue an inept boater; but I think all of the personal questions are probably similar. I think most people put Eternal/ religious questions into terms they can understand, depending upon how well read they are.  A lot of people never go beyond Sunday School versions of theology; they believe people become angels when we die, they believe we’ll be wearing long, white robes and wearing crowns on our heads, singing praises to the Creator all day long, for Eternity. Those four ideas would be closer to the warmer place, in my book.

Mark Twain, in his younger years, reporting from the Sandwich Islands [aka Hawaii], commented on the efforts of missionaries there: ‘it’s a shame that multitudes have gone to their graves [pre-missionary], never knowing there was a Hell.’ Maui is pretty close to Heaven, in my book.

There isn’t much about quantum physics in the Bible. Maimonides, a Jewish scholar of the 12 century [pre-Copernicus] believed, from his study of Torah, that the Creator gathered all of the matter of the Universe and compressed it into a particle the size of a mustard seed; and from there exploded it outward. I haven’t studied Torah to that degree, and don’t know how Maimonides got there, but theology can handle quantum physics. Some physicists believe there are 11 dimensions, rather than the four we know about. I believe that if this is true, one of those dimensions is probably a dimension of the Spirit, and there we will find the soul.

Do we have a destiny? I think we do; but I think the journey is a large part of the destination; and we can live it well, with the opportunities available; or we can choose poorly. Does ‘choosing poorly’ mean ‘eternal damnation?” I think it mostly means choosing poorly. We miss out on what we could have had, with different choices.

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