Splashing around in theology.

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I read lots. I have a cat. I drink coffee. Therefore, I am.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Giftings Revisited: HUNCH vs. PUNCH!

Regarding my Saturday blog entitled “Giftings” I received some great comments that I would like to sort of respond to.
Anyone who is reading this current blog and has not read the previous one, I would encourage you to do so now.

In response to that blog posting, Cold Molasses [who happens to be a personal friend of mine… no less than one of the Ents, as it were…] said the following:

I struggle with your blog entry. Not because I don't share this belief. No, moreso because I struggle with the logic of it in the context of your other postings. Now, it doesn't need to be logical, so don't get me wrong. It's fine for you to believe whatever you believe. My challenge, though, is understanding the "hunch" factor.

Let me explain my curiousity. In other posts, you talk about God not being a hands-on God (if I can refer to it as that)...you know, not (usually at least) interfering in our lives directly. So I struggle with your premise that now God has directly impacted EACH of our lives in the MOST INTIMATE way...by defining for us what our gifting (or bliss) is...which will, to a large degree, influence our happiness and contentedness for all our lives.

Again, this is not a criticism but moreso raises a question I'd like to explore more with you. And that question is...what drives your "hunch" factor? What is the basis for the "hunch"? Is there a thought process you go through along with the "hunch" factor or is it solely a "hunch"?

He raises some really good issues.
I will start with the last paragraph, and answer the questions.
What drives my “hunch” factor, and secondly, what it is based upon, is mostly feelings. I guess that is what I mean by using the word “hunch.” Also, it is why I prefaced my comments at the time with the proviso:
My belief that God “gifts” us, is a belief that I hold in faith.
There is no tangible reason I should believe this.
Really, I am being sincere, there is no tangible reason I should believe that God “gifts” us. A lot of my feelings on the subject are based upon my own acknowledgment of personal giftings, followed by the question that I ask myself, “Where do they come from?”
If I go with the genetic answer, or even that of early childhood conditioning, I am always struck with how different I am [in my giftings and general temperament] when compared to any of my four siblings. When it comes to it, we all of us might as well be from different planets.
[I would venture to say that any parent with more than one kid can vouch for the fact that they often wonder if the Milkman really did slip one past the goalie somehow! No?]
Is there a thought process that I work through to come up with my “hunch” regarding giftings?
Not really.
Being totally honest here. It is [I admit] one of those things I am somewhat CHOOSING to believe.
In my blog, I went on to say, in a sort of hyperbolic way… All of this blog, and not only this one, but all of the previous ones…..is a hunch!
In a one-on-one conversation with my friend [the writer of the comments, the asker of the questions] he implied that if this is the case… if all of my blogs on godpuddle ultimately constitute sort of a “hunch”…. an “opinion” [if you will]… then this fact [or admission maybe is the better word] sort of nullifies the PUNCH of what it is I am saying.
In other words I have violated a standard of consistency.
I tend to disagree.
The reason I disagree is because when we are discussing theology, really there is never any point where a final conclusion is much more than a hunch or a deeply felt decision that is fraught with all mannner of subjectivity and personal opinion. What are we to say? “I base my beliefs on……. the Bible?”
Well…… is that not…. a HUNCH?
None of my previous blogs have been ex cathedra statements about anything that could be construed as ULTIMATE TRUTH.
Rather, what the blogs on godpuddle are intended to convey is an element of questioning that is too often [in my opinion] lacking in most theological discussion.
What I am saying here, in a roundabout way, is that for me to posit anything as being objectively true [as true and applicable to you, dear reader, as it is to me] it is necessary for me to appeal to something beyond myself [as in God, or Scripture or the authority of the Church or its representatives]…. and this is something I will no longer do.
I have done it, yes. But I will no longer do it.

And so, what I mean to say is that even in my former blog, entitled “The Hand Of God” where [yes] I am proposing that God does not directly intervene [interfere] with the affairs of our lives anywhere near to the extent that we attribute His involvement…. even my stating of such a thing is based upon a “hunch”. My feeling about the issue at hand.
It is then up to each reader to ask themselves how this [and not only that one, but all of these blogs] measure up to their own “hunches” about things [theological principles].
In the end…. all we have are our hunches.
Anyone who declares something about God as being unequivocably TRUE, is in danger of SEVERE WRONGNESS.
The answers are out of reach.
But the questions are not!

This is why [in my blog] I qualify even my own statement about beileving IN God, by making sure that readers understand that I am declaring Him to be, “the indescribable, indefinable, ineffable, God.”
Even in ascribing those three words to Him, I am declaring that I believe in Him, based upon a “hunch.”

So, moving on to the topic of “interference”…. or, more specifically, my apparent contention that there is no incongruency involved in believing that God “gifts” us, yet does not seem to “intervene” in our lives.
Firstly, I think this is a very valid issue to explore further. I see where the question is coming from. I admit, it does seem that I am either schizophrenic, or high on benzene!
However, I would point to the analogous situation of my belief that God is the creator of the world, yet He seems to not interfere with our potential to destroy it.
For instance, if I believe that God created the world [which I do, based again, upon a hunch when it really comes down to it], does this mean that I [ipso facto] believe that He sustains it?
Not in my way of looking at it anyway.
What I mean by this can be illustrated by the fact that my belief that God created the ozone layer around the earth does not necessarily mean that I believe He will protect it from the fluorocarbons and carbon monoxide that are currently intent upon destroying it!
No. I believe that He does not intervene, as such.
I believe we could literally fry ourselves to death with UV rays because of our love of hairspray!
Similarly though, if God “gifts” us, as human beings, with the gift of having propensities and abilities that not only make us unique but allow us the potential of living valuable and fulfilled lives… do I necessarily believe that He is “forcing us” [as another respondent said] to REALIZE these giftings?
But the respondent [rantandroar] went on to suggest that if we, in fact, do not fulfill these giftings, then this implies that God is deliberately “frustrating” our lives.
I disagree again.
I do not see it that way. I would say that WE are the ones who are frustrating our lives.
God gives… but His only other option is to NOT GIVE. Which would be the better thing?
If I give my nephew the bike he always wanted for his birthday, and, instead of riding it, he throws it off a cliff…. I think it is pretty much a waste of time to go on and on about the deficient intentions of the gift-giver.
In my own life, I am profoundly aware that to the extent that I have not realized [actualized] my giftings it has always been an aspect of my own fear or [I’ll say it]…. STUPIDITY that has thwarted my degree of fulfillment.
If I have not followed my bliss or been able to follow my bliss, the reason lies at my own doorstep.
Never has it been God [granted, my conception of God] who has tripped me or thrown something in my way. Again, even this is a personal opinion. [Hunch].
Someone else may feel that it is “God” that has kept them from realizing goals, but I will never believe that this person is travelling down any sort of Transcendent Highway I myself want to be on!
Another respondent [who does not appear on these pages, does not write to my blog but writes to me personally] suggested that the reason I feel the way that I do about this issue has everything to do with my own experience in life, regarding “giftings.”
With that I agree.
I myself am a textbook case of unrealized potential.
A prototype of personal failure, in many ways.
But I can honestly say that I am not bitter about it. I am saddened, but not bitter. Bitterness requires external projection. [What is known as “blame.’] You can only be bitter towards something, while sadness is more inward.
Sadness means I can be honest about something that is less than it ought to be, while remaining thankful and utterly grateful for what might have been, and what still could be.
And in this sense, external blame [or projected frustration… the fist shaken in some direction] is non-existent!
And having said this, it is for all of us to come to terms with the way we “feel” in regard to our current levels of “life-fulfillment.”
The great psychologist Abraham Maslow would have called it “self-actualization.”
Joseph Campbell called it “following your bliss.”
What I find difficult to deny is that every person is unique, and has giftings that transcend our rational explanations as to why these giftings, these abilities, should exist as they do.
To go back to the “creation” motif… I would say the same about my belief that God is the designer of the human body.
I believe He is.
But... not all people are healthy.
He does not intervene as much as we would like to think He does. But [it is my "hunch"] that only God can come up with the design of the body, even if He chooses to let evolution be His wheelbarrow.
Thing is, if I smoke cigarettes and live on a diet of wieners and other foms of lard-cylinders, I am probably going to be gasping for air a lot sooner than the non-smoking vegan-jogger over yonder.
And yet, that guy may keel over long before I do!
I may be around to toss my sixteen millionth cigarette butt into his grave and walk right on over to the nearest hot-dog vendor for a juicy bratwurst!
I find that there is often very little observable correlation between what OUGHT to happen to us, and what in fact, DOES happen to us! In this sense, what God intends for us may never, in fact, be realized. I have a hunch that the greater majority of people never experience it. Never live to their full potential. Never truly follow their bliss. And whether they do or not [in my opinion] has very little to do with God's direct up-to-the-minute intervention in their lives.

The questions that have been raised by not only these two readers regarding this blog, but other readers, regarding other blogs, are the very reason that I write what I do on this page.
*** May the above, this response of mine, never be construed as an ANSWER.***
But just some further hunching about my hunches.



Blogger Cold Molasses said...

Awesome! I love it!

Great response. I very much appreciate the rationale behind God giving a gifting, but not interfering in our lives (a la creating the world but not directing what happens in it). Now that I think of it that way, it holds more of a "logic test".

You know...I started my "journey" on these topics with the idea that faith needs to somehow fit into one's belief system. So maybe "hunch" is just another way to think of faith?

Finally, don't be saddened Cip. I think you are following your bliss in some ways...and in fact, in many ways more than a lot of us. You devote a lot of your energy to the things outside of day-to-day work that are your bliss. Others of us don't do that as well as you. So perhaps you are more on your way to following your bliss than you think. And maybe this blog is one step on that path????

5/09/2006 6:56 PM  
Blogger RantandRoar said...

A hunch indeed...I also think that your particular perspective is a little askew. I am not sure if you realize it or not but most people do not have your talents nor do they have any other talents any where's close to the level that you have with music and writing. In other words, the gifts that you have most of the world can not relate to and do not have. Most of us ordinary Joes are a product of genetics and enviroment and so I am not convinced of the gifts you speak of. Many studies of identical twins, seperated at birth and brought up in different enviroments, usually have similar interests and talents underlying their enviromental influences.

In the mean time, I am not saying you don't have a right to your opinion, just my side of the story...

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