Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Saturday, January 29, 2005  

Chocolate or Vanilla?

The other day while listening to Michael Medved on his radio show, a Jewish caller asked him how he should react when a much younger Christian co-worker told him something which hurt him.

"She was talking with another about Heaven, and so I asked her if she thought I would go to Hell since I was Jewish, She said, yes. I was deeply hurt by that," the man told Medved.

"Well, do you think you're going to Hell?" Michael asked. "If you don't then it doesn't realy matter unless deep in your heart you think it might be true."

Medved talked about the Jewish belief in the Afterlife, and then said something that struck me a bit oddly.

"Look, I don't have a lot of absolute certainties; it's easy to doubt any number of things I think, but one thing I have no doubt about is that God wants me to be Jewish. I am absolutely certain of that."

I can appreciate the sincerity of that belief, but at the same time I wonder how it is arrived at. Medved can’t believe it’s true for all Jews or none of Jesus’ followers would have been thrown out of the synagogues. And if it isn’t true for all, why would it be true for one, an individual Jew, to feel bound to Judaism?

It is not uncommon for people to feel that they are exactly where God wants them to be at any particular point in their life. The question then may become whether God intends for them to always remain in that place?

An insight which I consider proverbial once came to me that “everyone orders their lives according to their last great insight about reality.” This is tautological. Our understanding of God must determine our response to circumstances - our moral judgments, our family relationships, and our self-knowledge.

People develop insights about reality, the image and nature of God, in varying degrees. Some never abandon childish faith or antipathies, while others find change occurring at graceful or “teachable” moments such as at marriage, divorce, a birth of a child, a death of a loved one, during the suffering of an illness or great misfortune; and without such stimuli, maintain a course on auto-pilot.

Very busy people tend to be distracted by their work or absorbed by particular curiosities that contemplation, prayer, or introspection regarding their spiritual condition is elided.

But when a man’s desire for Truth, his hunger and thirst for righteousness, is consuming, then that man does not stay long in one spiritual place but realizes (and it is an accelerating progress) that everything he believes may be provisional.

God may have brought him to this church or that religion because it was best suited for him at that moment, but is not intended to bind him forever if fresh insights lead him to scrutinize more carefully and without regard to sentiment the truth of what he’d previously believed wholeheartedly.

And zealous converts will often strain gnats but swallow camels.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 9:40 AM |