the end vs. the well-ordered mind
Last week, I and J.K Rowling's Dumbledore offered some thoughts about the well-ordered or well-organized mind.
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Now I will add several characteristics of such a mind to those I proposed last week. The new ones are humility, patience, and discernment, with which far too many Christians need serious help.
First, there's humility:
I recently noted a fine example on television, while watching the San Diego Padres vs the St. Louis Cardinals. The humble fellow was Albert Pujols, while approaching his 700th career home run. His every comment and action convinced me that he recognizes his power, his determination -- all that has delivered him into the company of only three other players in baseball history -- were gifts granted to him, not rewards he had earned on his own.
And there's patience:
When I practiced Tae Kwon Do, Master Jeong often reminded us: "Number one is patience, number two is patience, number three is patience . . ." Not only can patience help us learn better, it can also help us love better. In fact, it's a necessary element of any art we attempt, including the art of living, and we are, I believe, called to be God's art.
Now, remember my remark about Christians needing help with discernment?
I have been editing an old book (Me, Detective, 1931) in which the narrator, an investigator for the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, is confronted by the arguments of a skeptical friend:
"For example, when a politician uttered a statement and offered logical, decent motives for so doing, I was ready and anxious to believe him, but Casey delighted in blasting my credulity. When I would doubt him, he’d snarl:
“'All right, all right! I won’t argue with you. But watch him — he won’t do what he promised. That’s just a lot of wind to rope the suckers . . . like you!'
"Despite the fact that Casey was right nine times out of ten, I was not entirely convinced. There was something positively immoral about such a pessimistic attitude and I tried to reform him. One explanation especially used to aggravate me. He would explain away some altruistic utterance of a public official with the flat assertion it was made to secure the 'church vote.'
"The vote of the church-going element was always held up to ridicule by the boys in the know. This bothered me, although I had long since severed connections with any church. So, I watched closely, and it was only after a long time that I reluctantly concluded that he was right and that the 'church vote' was the cheapest to secure."[italics mine]
Guess what, fellow churchgoers. The church vote is us.
Some time back I noticed a bumper sticker that read "Calvary Chapel, where the sheep come to feed" and wondered whether it was an ad for the church or sarcasm.
It could be either. Because we are taught in church that we are the sheep for whom Jesus cares and provides all we need. I will in no way argue against that creed, but I will express my concern that rarely does a church leader admit or imply that he or she is not necessarily omniscient. We are led in subtle and blatant ways to believe that all preaching is anointed, and that our reading and media favorites should be church approved or recommended or at least suitable to discuss -- meaning not controversial -- around our congregation.
My point here is, to become a discerning Christian, which we must attempt if we hope to attain a well-ordered mind, we need to think for ourselves, not only as one of the sheep. If this leads to our getting looked askance at, avoided, or even shunned, remember courage is also on our list. If thinking for ourselves feels somehow immoral, is it possible we have been programmed to feel that way?
Okay then, adding this week's and last week's suggested characteristics of a well-ordered mind gives us: Courage, Humility, Patience, Reason, Resolve, and Discernment as well as Faith, Hope, and Love, which, according to 1 Corinthians 13:13 "will last forever." And don't forget, "The greatest of these is love."
Though I possess at least enough humility to admit I'm hardly omniscient, still I will offer this list as a tentative map to joining Dumbledore and his friends the Flamels in looking upon death as simply the next great adventure.
And as some philosopher taught me long ago, once we rid ourselves of the fear of death, we can begin to live.
Happy forever, however it works,
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