Who’s Right? It Depends…

We are all valid.  We are all wonderful.  We are all unique.  God made it so.

I came across this fascinating video yesterday.  It was created last year by Hillary Diane A. Andales, a teenager living in the Philippines, to provide an easily understandable explanation of the theory of relativity.  Her video was the winning entry in the “Breakthrough Junior Challenge” of 2017.

What I find most fascinating about this video is its relevance to many of the battles we see being played out in the media and other forums within this country, and around the world, every day.  The focus of these battles always seems to center on the question of “Who is right?”   Ultimately, they are battles over the question of who’s reality is THE Reality.  But, Ms. Andales’ video forces us to ask ourselves whether such battles are worth fighting at all.

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Sermon: Wisdom

Detail from the cover of “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” by Dr. Seuss
Detail from the cover of “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” by Dr. Seuss

Two young fish were swimming along and happened to pass by an older fish. The older fish says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” The two young fish swim on. Eventually, one of them looks over at the other and says “What the heck is water?”

Please join me in prayer… 

Lord God, we lift up this morning’s lessons.  May they touch our hearts, and speak clearly to our souls, that we may come to more fully comprehend your eternal and undying love for us and for all of your Creation. Amen.

This Sunday we consecrate our Christian Education Ministry’s programs for the year. So, it is fitting that our topic is Wisdom.

As I was preparing this message, I came across a Commencement Address by the late David Foster Wallace, given at Kenyon College in May of 2005.

Professor Wallace gave the fish story I related at the beginning of this message and then said its point “is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.”

Dr. David Foster Wallace (1962-2008)
Dr. David Foster Wallace (1962-2008)

He then related another story:

Two guys are sitting in a bar in Alaska. One guy is religious, the other an Atheist. After a few beers, they begin to argue about the existence of God with great intensity. Finally the Atheist says: “Look, I have reasons for not believing in God. Just last month I got in a terrible blizzard. I was lost and couldn’t see a thing, and it was fifty below. So I fell to my knees and cried out ‘Oh, God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me.’”  

The religious guy gives the atheist a puzzled look: “Well, you must believe now. After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist rolls his eyes. “Nope, two Eskimos happened to wander by and showed me the way back to camp.”

The lesson here, Wallace points out, is just as obvious as that of the first story: the exact same experience can mean totally different things to different people, because their templates of how the world works are very different.

Google Glass
Google Glass

These “templates of meaning” are the maps we carry inside ourselves, the lens through which we see and interpret everything we experience.

This is an important point: all of our meaning-making depends on how we see and interpret what we witness in the world around us. Meaning and understanding are the result of interpretation. The teachings of our faith – teachings of any sort, in fact – are meaningless without interpretation. Interpretation is the process of taking our own observations or knowledge and making them real and relevant to ourselves or others.

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