One of my favorite movies is Crash. In this movie, several different stories, ‘crash’ together in a way that only life can orchestrate. The twist is that many of the characters that are integral to these stories are slightly racist. If asked, they wouldn’t think that they were racist. However, when under pressure, and in the right environmental situations, their racial bias comes out in full force. Through the ‘crashing’ together of these stories, people are forced to reevaluate their racial bias and consider the humanity of those that they had previously marginalized. Though the point of the film is to show how racism is perpetuated, it does contains glimmers of hope in that some of the characters undergo a change. This change is a very specific transformation that happens in the face of crisis. It is a result of saying “no more!” to cognitive dissonance and making a choice that one believes to be more true than the alternatives. This change is, in short, made quickly, directly, and sharply.
Another favorite movie (and book!) of mine is Tolkin’s Lord of The Rings. Most people know that this story tells of the journey of an unlikely hero, Frodo Baggins. He is entrusted with a ring of power that he must destroy in order for evil in the world to disappear (gross oversimplification). This journey has a profound effect on Frodo, leaving him a different person than when he started. The change, however, was not drastic. It happend through a series of micro-changes that were caused by specific events in his journey. This change is made slowly, painfully, and progressively.
Recently I have experienced both of these changes.
Some people have mentioned to me that I have become quite cynical. In fact, I’m often the first to admit that this is true. Paradoxically, I have sometimes described myself as a cynical optimist. I hope for the best in every situation even as I am pointing out any and every flaw that I see. This change has been rather gradual, and is a mixed blessing. I approach every situation with caution now, which both protects me and makes me appear to be a negative person. Life goes on however, and I think in the end it helps me to think critically about everything that I experience.
I have had a minor crisis in which I sat at a crossroads. I had been presented evidence in which I would either have to abandon my faith, or reevaluate it in light of the present data. As a result, I may read the creation story a bit differently than traditional Christians and be a little more textually critical when I read the bible. I have come to the conclusion that reading the Bible critically does nothing to diminish its value and has, in fact, increased its meaning for me and how I view the world. This doesn’t make me any less of a Christian… and I think I still fall in the stream of Orthodoxy… just maybe a little to the left side.
Over time I have been wondering how valuable argument really is. Fowler had a few stages of spiritual development that he though a person went through. Being someone who has to be absolutely right about issues of faith is considered quite immature on this scale. Instead, those who are willing to listen and consider other points of view are considered mature. Few people reach this point in their lives, according to Fowler. I hope to work towards that point, though I know it is a long way off.
I’ve decided that the words “Hopeful Universalist” describe me well. I think if everyone
went to was forced to go to heaven, that it would undermine free will, but I sure as hell (pun intended) am not going to damn every soul who doesn’t think like me to a pit of fire and brimstone for eternity. Of course, I could be wrong on this one… which is why I chose to remove myself from the continuum (from universalism to exclusivism) and hope that everyone will be reconciled unto God from out of their own free will.
I’ve come to an active realization that Jesus really does love everyone. Even the people I don’t like. Even the people you don’t like. Even the people society would like to disappear. Especially the people society would like to disappear. That realization was easy enough I guess. The realization that that standard of loving everyone is one that I am held to is a harder pill to swallow.
I’ve decided that groups of people can be capable of great acts of mercy and compassion.
I’ve decided that groups of people can be capable of great acts of hate and bigotry.
I love people.
Those are my random thoughts. I hope they were somewhat cohesive. I hope there was a method to my madness.