Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tree of ignorance



The Garden of Eden.  God wants his children to be fundamentally ignorant--or at least to remain children, or moral infants.  (Or perhaps I should rephrase that declarative as a question:  Is there any religion that encourages adults to seek truth freely wherever reason and evidence takes one?  Is there any religion that encourages persons to pursue their conscience without the mediation of a priestly class or without consultation to sacred writings?)  Arguably all religions discourage if not punish persons for seeking knowledge of any kind, but especially for seeking knowledge suitable for adult living.  Which raises a question about children.  Can it be said that young children have any religion at all?   How can they?  Isn't religion an attempt to deal with questions that children do not have?  When my daughters were wee ones, were they Christians?  Were they Presbyterian?  I hope not.  Not that there's anything wrong with Presbyterianism, but there's something unseemly in my opinion about a four year-old adherent of any denomination.  I think a lot of parents would be (rightly) disturbed if their young children considered themselves as firm Democrats or Republicans, so why is it so commonplace to expect our children to adhere to a religion?   Perhaps the Southern Baptists, with their strong conviction in adult baptism are actually on to something smart. 

So let this be known as the blog post in which I praise the Southern Baptists.

Great job, Southern Baptists!

And....I enjoyed Justcurious's commentary about the differences between the cover dish meal performances of the Methodists and Southern Baptists so much--and thought it so deliciously written--I thought I'd bring it forward here as a redemptive coda to my ramblings above:   

"Having witnessed the Truth as it pertains to earthly sustenance in each of those denominations, there just ain't no comparison, bro. You clearly think you've been to the heavenly feast but I'm here to tell you, you've merely eaten outside the gates. Now, my points of reference are a small, country Baptist church and a small town but "downtown" Methodist church, so maybe this is more a study of expression of zeal or pride than cooking abilities, but here's what I'm recollecting... At the SB supper on the grounds, the tables were groaning under the weight of hopes fulfilled, obligations met, and culinary gauntlets thrown down. As preacher man gave the benediction and blessing all rolled in one (which must have also granted us protection from the botulism of all those dishes sitting outside for so long), there was much anticipation for the famous dishes waiting. The ten layer chocolate cake that Carol Ann would aww shucks about, the fried chicken that Sammi said was nothin', the deviled eggs and lemon ice box cake that Earlene kept secret tabs on to guage how much more they were liked than Sarah Jane's frankly also ran apple pie and deviled eggs without the relish (novice). We waited our turn in line, peering anxiously around those in front to see if the homemade yeast rolls were holding out, but no worry, as the dishes proved bountiful and saw the adults to sated, post dinner tea drinking and story swapping and the kids to sugar fueled running and chasing about. The stuff of pride and legend, time and again.

 
Now at the Methodist church, the minister would remind the congregation that the covered dish supper was coming up and that meant everyone should get to cooking. Please. Then the church would buy ham and some other things to supplement what they knew would be somewhat lean offerings. Families straggled in after the appointed time by which the dishes should be on the table and waiting, tossing their bag of Sunchips onto the dessert table as they got in line, apparently hoping the loaves and fishes line had been invoked earlier. Let's see, what's more appealing... the beans out of a can or store bought cookies. Hmmmm. No, no - put one of those carrot sticks back, there are more people behind you who need one. Everyone would ooh and ahh over the rare, homemade dish that appeared and rapidly emptied. There was always sweet tea, so I guess that's something."

7 comments:

justcurious said...

On a positive note, they do have the best "covered dish suppers" around.

Steven Taylor said...

So the SBs get praise in a post called "Tree of Ignorace"?

Andy D. said...

I've been thinking about this post for a couple of days, and the point it makes is so brilliant, yet the conclusions it reaches upon that analysis are so....

Well anyway, as to adding a comment: I. Do not even know. Where. To possibly. Begin.

So -- Go J.C. And S.T.!! Woo hooooo!! Woot woot!!!

That's all I can articulate here.

AD

Technoprairie said...

If you believe that there is a thing called Absolute Truth (something that is true for all circumstances and all people), then the Christian God does want you to find out the truth about Him and his world. And you find it in the book that is the truest record about Him.

If everyone followed their conscience, we'd end up with a lot of "God is love and I'm sure that he doesn't mind if I do this or that, because surely I'm not as bad as a serial killer" or you have people just inventing a god that supports what they want.

Besides, when you do study the world around you, it is so incredibly complex and amazing, the fact that God created it seems to be the most logical answer to the question - Who made all this?

Mike Bailey said...

Justcurious--I don't know if that's true. When I attended a Methodist, I enjoyed some killer cover dishes. Nearly every week, in fact.

Steven Taylor--You raise an interesting point/question. I'm very pro-Baptist (well, within limits), but it's the "Southern" qualifier with which I have trouble. As I know you already know, the Baptists were crucial in our history for leading the call for separation of church and state.

Andy D--I finally stumped you. Good to know. Reason again, perhaps, for thanking the Southern Baptists?

Technoprairie--A sincere question. I've always wondered why people qualify truth with the word absolute, and why they capitalize both words. Evangelicals in particular do this, at least in my experience. So my question is what's gained by this? What's wrong with old-fashioned truth, unqualified and uncapitalized? Again, I ask this sincerely and wihthout any intent of snarkiness.

I'm pro-truth, too, which is part of the problem I have with virtually all religion. Which is not to say that there is no god. It says more about the attitude of many religious adherents to truth, which is to champion Absolute Truth but then run away from truth as fast as can be when it emerges from science and philosophy (experience and reason).

As for people inventing a god to support what they want, we definitely agree. I think that such a practice is beyond refutation. Seems to be the common story of humanity, no?

I agree that the world is complex and amazing. And mysterious yet. And far be it from me to suggest that such amazing complexity and mystery is incompatible with the idea of a creator god. Indeed I believe it to be the case, though I confess I believe so because I hope it to be the case rather than because I think evidence or argumentation points in that direction. (See what I mean about inventing gods because we want them to exist?) I'm fairly well versed with most of the major (and many of the minor) arguments of Christian apologetics. Some are simply lame, while others make me pause and reflect. None, however, is a knock-out demonstration of truth (Absolute or otherwise), even taken in aggregate.

By the same token, I can say the same of the arguments in the six or so books I've read recently advocating the adoption of atheism. Many of these arguments have made me pause, but the confidence of these authors in their conclusions has struck me as curious, misplaced and a little foolhardy.

justcurious said...

Having witnessed the Truth as it pertains to earthly sustenance in each of those denominations, there just ain't no comparison, bro. You clearly think you've been to the heavenly feast but I'm here to tell you, you've merely eaten outside the gates. Now, my points of reference are a small, country Baptist church and a small town but "downtown" Methodist church, so maybe this is more a study of expression of zeal or pride than cooking abilities, but here's what I'm recollecting... At the SB supper on the grounds, the tables were groaning under the weight of hopes fulfilled, obligations met, and culinary gauntlets thrown down. As preacher man gave the benediction and blessing all rolled in one (which must have also granted us protection from the botulism of all those dishes sitting outside for so long), there was much anticipation for the famous dishes waiting. The ten layer chocolate cake that Carol Ann would aww shucks about, the fried chicken that Sammi said was nothin', the deviled eggs and lemon ice box cake that Earlene kept secret tabs on to guage how much more they were liked than Sarah Jane's frankly also ran apple pie and deviled eggs without the relish (novice). We waited our turn in line, peering anxiously around those in front to see if the homemade yeast rolls were holding out, but no worry, as the dishes proved bountiful and saw the adults to sated, post dinner tea drinking and story swapping and the kids to sugar fueled running and chasing about. The stuff of pride and legend, time and again.

Now at the Methodist church, the minister would remind the congregation that the covered dish supper was coming up and that meant everyone should get to cooking. Please. Then the church would buy ham and some other things to supplement what they knew would be somewhat lean offerings. Families straggled in after the appointed time by which the dishes should be on the table and waiting, tossing their bag of Sunchips onto the dessert table as they got in line, apparently hoping the loaves and fishes line had been invoked earlier. Let's see, what's more appealing... the beans out of a can or store bought cookies. Hmmmm. No, no - put one of those carrot sticks back, there are more people behind you who need one. Everyone would ooh and ahh over the rare, homemade dish that appeared and rapidly emptied. There was always sweet tea, so I guess that's something.

Andy D. said...

MB -- Not nearly reason enough.

A.