Friday, March 1, 2019

Fish out of Water

Image result for flopping fish out of water cartoonI am in Alaska.  That simple statement means so much to those who have shared this experience but to those who have never visited there is no shared communal understanding.  That sounds presumptuous but simply visiting Alaska is an unusual event in relation to most Americans, most don’t want to come, many cannot come and some barely know the State exists, nor do they understand the extremes just below and above the Arctic Circle. 

This is my first visit, my first experience and my first exposure to the Alaskan experience.  Even from my limited introduction, I am flabbergasted by the splendor and majesty of these northern lands.  The people that live and work there, or visit often, may take for granted the excesses of weather and the challenge of simple everyday survival, they live, work and play every day amidst the extreme cold and often thrive by living on the edge but at the same time fully engaged in the patterns that the rest of us indulge. 

My entrance into this club (an honorary member, bestowed by me, upon me, just because I stayed a few days) allows me to share in the experience, knowing that everyone who is a member shares in a slightly different way.  Some who belong are life long members and live in the outreaches of humanity, maybe not knowing the differences that I claim to think I understand.  Most live in the populated areas of Anchorage or Fairbanks or Juno and have emulated the semi-urbanized way of life as most of the world, albeit within the extremes of winter cold and the risks of nature just minutes away. 

Just visiting Alaska gives a person a new outlook, or in my case an attitude of superiority, “I’ve been to Alaska, and you have not” kind of outlook that makes me feel superior or at least privileged to have seen some of the grandeur of the interior, the majestic mountain and never-ending spaces between the cities where no one lives, no one has ever lived or perhaps even seen  except like I did in a two prop jumper, my sight obscured by the pontoon like engine compartments and landing gear.
Alaska is humbling.  Not simply by its sheer size and mystery but because of the risks that affect everyone who exists there, especially if they forget to follow the simple rules of survival.  That probably applies more to me than most who have come.  So far, the winter clothes bought and borrowed have worked well and the instructions received have served me well, but it is easy to see how the conditions could turn deadly and torturous if those simple rules are not followed.

We can all agree that some of the rule’s society imposes do not always ensure our safety or are convenient but most, it seems, try to establish some order for the collective safety of us all.  Traffic rules for example:  Can you imagine trying to get to work or even to the local park if there were no rules.  I’m not sure of the wisdom of letting drivers of any age, drive wherever they wanted, going speeds of their choosing, turning or stopping as they pleased?  Rules are important, following the rules is also important.  Like driving in the snow and on the ice.  I’ve done both and could navigate the roads, albeit very slowly and carefully at first, but the need for rules and understanding must be considered if one is to embark down that road of free will.

Obeying the rules of society may seem inconvenient and illogical but when taken from the wider perspective of populations and society their logic begins to unfold.  At least most seem to have some purpose or reason.

I’m like everyone else.  When I am the only driver at a red light and there is no traffic, no other cars, no pedestrians, I ask myself, “why do I need to stop”?  Why should I obey that rule, why should I be inconvenienced when there is no one else involved? 

I don’t have an answer except to say that the rules established are for everyone and if one decides to disobey is not the entire premise of that society put at risk?  I know, it’s a bit of a stretch but take it the logical conclusion.  Not just one guy running a red light but everyone deciding it’s ok to disobey the rules of their own accord.

Let’s take this into a religious context.  Same principle, different condition.  Not a traffic light but a simple commandment, it doesn’t matter what the commandment is nor the importance of that commandment but when a rule is imposed, when a commandment is given, how do we respond?
I am not advocating for blind obedience but if we believe in a God then we must accept Him as our supreme Lord.  How you justify God’s familial relationship is up to you but God as our creator is a fundamental and important concept to understand, that is if you even believe in God, a god, the creator or any name or idea you wish to use.

Believing in God is foundational and within that foundational premise is the acceptance of God establishing rules for all mankind.  Rules or commandments that when followed will provide a glimpse into the mind of God and his designs for not only his creations but for all of us.  The non-believer must find their own way to establish the necessary patterns of life.  Whether through the study of human behavior or the belief in a societal, evolutional theory the need for rules is the same.  The difference is who we believe is worthy of our faith, Man or God?

If the answer to that question is God then the next question, is there a church and if there is a church is one church more suited than others to assist in our pursuit of those divine truths?  Do you believe that a church is even necessary for your search?  The questions of how to worship, what to worship are all on the spectrum within the continuum toward understanding the “truth”. 

My definition of the truth is not a variable, not changeable nor is it conditional.  We can discover partial truths toward the ultimate truths of God but knowing the whole truth and nothing but the truth from the Celestial perspective, in my opinion, is not within our abilities.  We can discern truthful components in a variety of areas and we have the duty to expand our minds and our understanding in all areas for the ultimate goal of discovering the “truth”.  But even now, after tremendous innovative strides in all areas of human existence can we truly say how close we are to knowing what God knows? 

The truth may not change but our relationship to those truths do, especially in connection to our variable efforts toward ultimate conclusions.  Of course, we are better now, more knowledgeable, we have a better understanding of virtually everything but how much closer are we to the truth of all things?  How often has science, medicine, philosophy or any subject that comes to mind changed due to the advent of new information or discoveries?  How often will our perspectives of the truth change in future?

Every year we gain in understanding, we expand our knowledge and move inexorably closer to the truth, but our efforts are far from over.  We may have some science that we believe is settled and those thinkers and philosophers may understandably believe what they think but history has shown us quite definitively that whenever we think we know and become satisfied with what we know, great changes will ensue, demanding a retooling of our efforts toward that unknown but real and complete understanding of what God knows. 

I am not in any way advocating we not search, not research or not engage in deep and serious learning.  What I am asking is that we learn within the context of our belief in an all-knowing God, obeying him first, having faith in His words and let Him guide our search for knowledge based on His designs for all of us.  But you must believe in God first.  Without God, man flounders like a fish out of water.  Each flip or flop of his mind may seem like an epiphany creating the hope that the next flip or flop will land him back into the water and back to his “perfect” life,  life wrought with danger, uncertainty, and risk of being caught by that hook that threatens us all, not so perfect after all. 

Man has been searching for the “truth” since the first synopsis of the mind awakened him to consciousness and from that time man has searched and failed, almost in a vain attempt toward that eternal goal.  There are truths but I suspect (my opinion only) the only way to understand truthful things is to live in a truthful way.  We must all acknowledge God, have faith in his wisdom for us.  Be forever vigilant in our desire to learn and expand our understanding of all things temporal and spiritual. 

Our discoveries toward the truth may be questionable and fleeting but the process of working toward understanding the ways of God through science, mathematics, history, medicine and in all areas of study relay to our Creator our desire to want to learn.  But when we learn without God, we are nothing more than a fish out of the water, flipping, and flopping, never really understanding the purpose of our lives. 

There is a God, there are truths to follow, and we all have the capacity to learn.  Learning with the understanding of God enhances our efforts and focuses our efforts toward the truth of all things.