things we Think, things we Do

Originally uploaded by sapaho.
My next door neighbor is a theoretical mathematician working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NCAR. We run together once in awhile. A few weeks back we went for a short four miler. He was telling me that he was flying to Berlin to interview with a grad school program out there. After hearing about the program I asked him, “So, how are you feeling about flying that far?”

See, he is petrified of flight. It scares him so much that he doesn’t sleep the night before a flight and sometimes take a valium before getting on the plane. Ironically, his mom is a flight attendant. (Freud would have a field day with that one.) What’s interesting, though, is that he specializes in math and, thus, concrete, measurable facts. He has even said how ridiculous it is that he of all people is afraid of flying since he knows the numbers say he is more likely to die in a car wreck than in a plane crash, that he shouldn’t be afraid. But he is. For all the knowledge in the world won’t change his beliefs.

I was reading a quote by George Macdonald that made me think of all this:
"I hardly know which error is worse - the untruth of Christians who have erected a false system of doctrines to explain a God whose heart they have not sought to know, or the untruth of non-Christians who foolishly do not look beyond such flimsy fabrications.  Neither side, it seems is hungry to find the REAL truth, but only to build up or tear down something that is not even there........ To hold to a doctrine or a opinion with the intellect alone is not to believe it.  A man's REAL belief is that which he lives by... What a man believes is the thing he does, not the thing he thinks"

We Westerners are vikings when it comes to stating what we think we believe about this or that. Being an election year, this banter of subjective rhetoric is plethoric. If there was a way to capture the energy expended by an individual arguing for what he or she thinks they believe, we would have a new inexhaustible energy source. But, like my neighbor, most of those ranting beliefs are nothing more than hot air when it comes down to how each person lives. It is in the living the truth is revealed.

Christians are an easy target for this one since they tend to make grand sweeping statements of belief all the time; beliefs that God is good, has a plan for their lives, is loving. Yet, most of them live in dire fear of pissing him off, constantly fight for their plan for their lives, and live lives hating themselves and others without letting themselves be loved. They claim to believe that God loves the world, but then carry signs that say, “God hates fags.”

So when I read GM’s quote I ask myself: What do I believe and how is my life lived in reflection of that, no matter what I think I believe?

Still chewing over what the answer might be.

At least with my neighbor, he’s honest enough with himself to admit the incongruency between what he knows for a fact and how he lives in real life. Which is more than I can sometimes say for myself....
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