There are some unfinished ideas here but I would love your input.
There is a widely distributed story that G.k. Chesterton once sent in a two word answer to the newspaper essay question, “What is wrong with the world?” His simple answer was, “I am.” Though the actual event has proven difficult to find, it is true that Chesterton in his book What’s Wrong With the World?, does make the claim that he, as an everyman, is the problem. I am the problem. How humble. How bold. How many of us can start there and actually say that the world is screwed up because of people, and not just ‘other’ people, but people who are like me: selfish, close-minded, greedy, lustful, cruel, judgmental, self-righteous. I am the problem.
Shakespeare was right long before Mumford and Sons ever sang it, “Man is a giddy thing.” Given the opportunity to choose, we most often choose the path of least resistance for ourselves, and then pretend that it was the ‘right’ thing to do. Most orthodox Christian Theologians would argue that we are broken from birth, sinners from the time we fist take breath, tainted by Adam’s Original Sin and destined to live a life shattered on the wheel of our own destructive nature to rebel. John Calvin wrote about it calling mankind “totally depraved.” I hate that phrase. I understand the thought behind it, but I’m not sure it matters. Whether I’m born a sinner or become one is irrelevant, everyone chooses to do what they think is best for themselves. The Bible says everyone sins, but that’s at least as prophetic as it is explanatory. There are some problems with man’s theological constructs that sometimes get in our way. But none of this discussion changes anything, “I am the problem” is still the truth.
All recovery, including the Spiritual recovery that we Christians call being ‘born again,’ starts in the same place: I admit that I have/am the problem and that I am powerless on my own to change that fact. From that point all healing begins; we are open to The Fixer to come start making a difference in our lives. Ah, but here’s where things get interesting. Saying that I am the problem is a choice. I choose to admit my weakness/illness/brokeness and I take responsibility for it. Everything in our world is based on decision, even if you choose to believe that some of those decisions are random.
Look at computers. It’s been a long time since Babbage designed his Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine which followed, but despite all of that time, computers still work the same way: they count to one. We call it binary code which I’m not going to talk about at any length but you can look up if you wish. What strikes me is the simplicity: two numbers 0 and 1. May I suggest that the reason we think of binary as a code and with numbers is because mathematicians designed it? I think you could easily call it Choice Code. Instead of counting two digits, the machine chooses yes or no; albeit very quickly and it chains them together to answer the more difficult questions in long bit strings that currently run our lives in many ways. That’s just cool, but this is cooler: in that simple math we find the basis for all of our spiritual/moral lives.
What begins with choice ends with choice. I am the problem, but as I choose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ I ultimately move forward in my spiritual life, away from my fractured beginnings and towards the Light. Don Miller was right in Blue Like Jazz when he said this was a spooky proposition because so many ‘blue-haired’ evangelists have stated that life is about decision. Life is about decision because faith is about decision and we humans will not, in fact cannot, live without faith. (This is an inevitable truth. We are to powerless to survive without faith in something, God, science, reason. Our situation demands it. Ultimately the person who has no faith in anything or anyone outside of himself will either succumb to despair or is frankly, too arrogantly stupid to last very long. I am willing to argue this, anytime.)
Let me explain a binary faith chain by using my own belief system as an example. First of all, hang on to this premise: It is impossible to be 100% sure of anything. Probability is part of life, that’s why decision is so important.
First Question: Is there a god (little g intentional)? Yes or No-Yes. (Okay, remember this is MY faith example but just for grins: You can’t disprove the existence of a higher power, and my arguments have only to do with probability. I find it highly more likely based on the evidence at hand that there IS a higher power. Remember FAITH IS CHOICE.)
If Yes, Then-Do I believe him to be a singular, personal God (big G!) with a knowable (as revealed) personality? (I’m skipping a few steps for brevity.) Yes or No? Yes. (Again, I am choosing this answer based on my own observation of creation and study of philosophy and religion. Why would an unknowable and abstract power create beauty?)
If Yes, Then-(Again skipping a few steps) Do I believe that Jesus Christ is the incarnate revelation of God? Yes or No? Yes. (No more explanations, I think you get the idea)
If Yes, Then- Do I choose to follow Him? Yes or No? Yes. etc.
Simple and deep. That screams truth to me.
You know, ultimately, even God chooses. From the very beginning He chooses. As a supreme being He has to choose even to exist. Descartes said, “I think therefore I am.” JHVH (God) says, “I am because I choose to be.” And there’s so much more: Life becomes a series of choices, of decisions, of faith steps. I learn the possibility of a truth and choose. If I choose well, I move forward in my faith. If I choose poorly I enter a kind of logic loop that lets me choose again. Then as I choose, I affect other peoples choices, because I change their outlook on possibility and probability, and eventually those choices change the world.
What begins with “I am the problem,” may end with “I am the solution,”
….if I choose wisely.