A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Original Sin? Cultural Conditioning? I Don't Know.

There are a lot of things about life, about faith, about scripture that I just don't know.  I don't know how much of the bible is myth and how much factually happened.  I don't know what/who God is.  I don't know what happens after we die.  But sometimes, even in the midst of not knowing, truth shines forth in an undeniable way.
I don't know if Eve and Adam literally ate fruit from some tree and doomed the world to sin.  Yet I find it hard to deny that there is within me an inherent selfishness that is difficult to overcome.  I was reminded of this as I undertook a fast from certain foods this Lent.  On that first morning when I ate oatmeal without the usual big ol' dollop of sugar, I felt sorry for myself.  Then, it occurred to me that people all over the world would be thrilled to have oatmeal to eat because it feeds their bodies and quiets the hunger pangs for a time.  And here I was whimpering because my morning oatmeal didn't taste like cake.  Is that kind of self-centeredness original sin?  Is it cultural conditioning as our society conditions us to think more is always better and safety, worth and all good things come from more stuff?  Is it survival instinct gone haywire?  I don't know, but it is real.  It is truth.

I know that in my marriage no matter how many times I tell myself I should focus on what I am giving instead of what I am getting, I still have a tendency to keep score.  "I did this for him so he should do this for me." Original sin?  Culturally conditioned false ideals of romance?  I don't know.

I know that there are stirrings in my heart that tell me we are called to a new way of life, a way focused upon the good of all people, a way beyond selfishness, a way that acknowledges our interconnectedness and the inherent value of all people.  Yet I am immobilized in finding my way forward to follow these ideas.  And when I speak of these things sometimes I feel like people are looking at me a bit like the cat in the above picture is looking at the goat.  Like I must be a different species.

I don't know the origin of all these struggles and things that weigh me down but I sure know they are real.  As I contemplated all of this that song from Wicked started running through my head again in the voice of Kurt from Glee, "It's time to try defying gravity."  Call it sin, call it selfishness, whatever we call it there is something that weighs us down and keeps us caught up in our own lives and our own needs.  We won't always succeed but I believe we can defy this gravity and rise above our selfishness for the sake of others.  I believe this is what we are called to do.

I also believe that sometimes life is too heavy and the best way to find the energy necessary for defying gravity comes from inspirational sources like music and humor.  I also believe this blog has been a bit heavy lately.  So, in the interest of a little comic relief let me tell you about the price I paid for the above picture.  I sat in the goat pen taking pictures trying to capture a goat defying gravity again (advent-readings-from-outside-box-part-2).  I thought I got a great one but it turned out blurry.  Uggh.  Anyway, we have some friendly goats and one of the mama goats came to inspect me.

She sniffed my face... my nose....  Ahh, so sweet.

Then she belched right in my face.

God's way of telling me I take life to seriously?  I don't know.


Laurie said...

I would like to defy gravity also. At this stage of my life, I've decided that flying might not happen. So I'm taking every opportunity I can to just hop. Sometimes its just a smile and a kind word. Sometimes its a day of volunteering. Sometimes its a donation to an international charity. Who knows. Maybe someday one of my hops will be more of a leap.

Sheri Ellwood said...

Awesome comment! Somedays I feel like I am doing good to crawl so maybe I should learn to rejoice a little more in the hops. The girls occasionally get me to skip which is really a bunch of hops strung together. Maybe we should aspire to skipping:)