Friday, March 20, 2009

Living in a Changed and Changing Culture

Last night, as the plane I was in was making its final approach to DFW, we entered a cloud bank. I was looking out the window, looking at the ground, and then all of the sudden a grey/white opaqueness blocked my sight. The water vapor was moving in a thousand directions; there was no fixed point of reference to cling to. As I kept looking, I realized I was starting to get motion sickness, and stopped looking out the window, and looked straight ahead to remind myself that the plane was not moving with the clouds, but through them.

As the exponential pace of change continues to accelerate in our culture in this time, a lot of Christians are getting motion sickness. We are scanning for a horizon that can't be seen through clouds whose movement seems to deny a coherent direction or purpose. The one sense that we have always used to guide us is leading us astray.

We Presbyterians are proud of our education: one of the best lines of A River Runs Through It is when the pastor/father's prejudices against other Christians are exposed: Norman narrates that "my father said that Methodists were Baptists who could read." We talk of the mind-- we worship the products of the mind-- we are always looking for the "new idea" that will improve every situation and reinvent humanity.

But the mind is easily fooled by too much information. When ideas are flying a thousand different directions and there is no fixed point of reference, it is possible to think to the point of sickness. It amazes me to think that I have already lived through three technological worldshifts-- and the last two were only a decade or so apart. How do we maintain our sense of who and Whose we are?

We cannot think our way out of our current muddle; when we stumble in our relationship with Christ, we think ourselves deeper into the morass. The only way out is to obey-- to do what we are commanded to do, whether it makes sense or not, whether we fear the consequences or not. Do the duty that lies nearest.

So, I love Christ and I choose to trust my brother/sister who says they love Christ, too-- even though I may not be able to make sense of that. I choose to look to Christ Who has me under His wing, and Who is setting the course and speed for my life-- even when I like neither what I see of the destination nor what I perceive of the speed.

My college professor used to say that faith is a way of knowing. The psalmest heard it better from the Source:
"Be still, and know that I am God. I am exalted in the heavens; I am exalted in the earth." The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Psalm 46


  1. Clay, even though cultures may change those of us who love Jesus and want to be obedient know that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and that will NEVER change. His Word is unchanging and no matter how hard some try to change it, scripture tells us "Heaven and Earth may pass away, but my Words will never pass away." Mt 24:35 We must live our lives in obedience to His Word if we are truly the Christians we say we are.

    In Christ's Love,

  2. And thanks for the McLean quote. A friend, a Methodist pastor and retired Army chaplain once told me that Presbyterians were Methodists who knew how to read." We laughed, but I had the feeling that I had heard the comment before. I loved A River Runs Through It and McLean's final work--Young Men and Fire--about the Mann Gulch fire in 1948. In describing the futile race of the doomed smokejumpers he wrote that "like another young man on a fiery hill, they must have wondered, 'My God, my God, why hast thou foresaken me?'"