I recently read this post on facebook:
“Sharing enlightenment is practically impossible; it just does not transfer very well.”
– John Fincher
I have to say I agree. Well, kind of.
I’ve learned that we can put our life experiences, things we’ve discovered, our insights and even our questions “out there”, but like seeds, they fall where they will. We simply sow.
Maybe we’re not sharing our enlightenment as much as we’re expressing its results.
I’ve had many people thank me for my various writings and posts. Some have said the stories, insights, and sometimes rather personal information have helped them find new freedom, or at least to ask new questions.
There are also those who find my views heretical. They think I’ve lost my way. That I’ve been seduced by the dark side (insert heavy mechanized breathing). They seem to think if I’m still “saved,” and that’s a big if, it’s by the skin of my teeth.
The same information that helps some can irritate and even anger others.
Author Rachel Held Evans stated “it’s still really hard for me when people question whether I’m actually a Christian.”
Sometimes it seems like the more “Christ-like” ones views become the more they’re challenged by traditional religion. That makes sense in light of how Christ himself was treated.
I think that our responses to ideas that are different from our own says a lot more about where we are in our journey than they do about the ideas themselves.
I had a friend years ago who tried to tell me that I didn’t understand grace. He tried to sell me on “eternal security.” I let him know that I understood grace just fine. Maybe he wasn’t using grace as an excuse to sin, but certainly he was leading people down the path of that possibility. Maybe his salvation was intact, but what about all the people he was misleading?
My fundamentalism was is full force.
The thing is, he could never have argued me out of my beliefs. No one could.
No one could have argued me out of my right-wing fundamentalism.
No one could have reasoned me out of my limited view of grace.
No one could have convinced me that issues of social justice weren’t just predominantly forms of anti-God secular humanism.
I knew right-wing politics and “true” Christianity went hand in hand.
And all that “green” tree-hugger nonsense? Well, we won’t even go there.
I’ve never known anyone to be argued out of their long-held, deeply ingrained beliefs. For that kind of change, something has to “click” inside them. I don’t know how or why this happens. It’s probably different for everyone. I’m only vaguely familiar with how or when it happened to me. The “click” isn’t the actual change in beliefs. Change is a process. And as I’ve said, there is no growth without change.
But the “click” is, I think, a necessary precursor. THEN the seeds of the knowledge and experience of others (their enlightenment) past, present and future, start to take root. Once that initial switch is thrown, lights everywhere start coming on. The false glow of the light we thought we had may finally go out. The journey takes on a “life” of its own, and all you can do is hold on. (We must also remember though, that all of our life up to any given “click” has also been an integral part of the journey. Realizing that can help prevent some tendencies of beating oneself up over what “should have been known”.)
I’m still convinced that one of the greatest “new” pieces of knowledge is the realization and acknowledgement of how little we do know. Then we can be less afraid, and more importantly, less combative of the ideas outside of our theological clique.
This is one of the great flaws of most religion, certainly of fundamentalism. “I don’t know” is not a comfortable option. Instead, everything has to have a concrete answer. I mean, just look at all the apologetics books. Everything must have a clear, locked-down explanation. AND we must be able to defend it tooth and nail.
I had an extended “run-in” with one young fellow who loved the phrase “spot-on.”
“Do you think that’s spot on?” “Is your belief spot-on with the Bible?” For him, there was one right answer, and he knew it!
I’m not saying that there are no absolutes. But we don’t have to dig too deep in our own lives to realize our understanding is certainly not absolute.
Naturally, when we discover a new facet of ultimate reality, or a new-found freedom, we want to share it. The rude awakening comes when we find that not everyone shares our enthusiasm. Not everyone believes you should think, explore, investigate, or be allowed to experience life the way it comes to you. Mostly, this is fear.
So yes, “sharing enlightenment is practically impossible.” Enlightenment arrives on it’s own terms.
Still, we sow. And we reap from the sowing of others. And the sowing can play a large roll.
Especially when at last the switch is thrown and something clicks.
It may start with letting go of the need to be “spot-on.” We start to see that life and perceived truth might be a little more fluid, rather than carved in stone. It seems to me, that without a strong ability to be comfortable with “I just don’t know,” we can never really grow, because when we think we know all the answers, we stop searching, and we make the fatal flaw of no longer asking the questions.
To read more quotes by John Fincher, you can “friend” him on facebook.
You can also check out his bussiness at: USMaterialHandling.com
Neither Mr. Fincher nor Ms. Evans are associated with this blog. The view expressed are those of the author (Me.)