Thursday, 4 August 2011

Do You Believe in Air?

The writer Thomas Harris (not the author of The Silence of the Lambs) wrote a book called I’m OK, You’re OK, an exposition of Transactional Analysis (TA) which was founded by Eric Berne. The title represents a positive and trusting outlook towards oneself and other people, which TA says is the only really healthy position to occupy in life.

One of Harris’s friends asked him, “If I’m OK and you’re OK, why do you lock your car?” A searching question. I think the answer must be, “There is good in everyone, but some people have had such a painful start in life that they don’t know that they have this good inside them, and so they act as if they were bad, not knowing any different.” By extension, you do according to what you feel you are.

If God is universal and eternal, then he has all space and all time covered. He always was, he is everywhere, and he will always be. Quakers believe that he is in everyone too, everywhere in the inner space of people as well as existing everywhere even in the empty outer space of the universe.

How then is it that we think of some people as being without God? To begin with, we simply do not know for a fact what goes on in someone else’s heart and mind, since we can have no direct experience of it. We think we can infer, from what they say and do, how they feel and what they believe, but inference is unreliable at best. Even well-chosen words are limited and ambiguous when it comes to trying to express the inexpressible, as we try to do, and the meaning of someone’s actions can always be misinterpreted. Hence the wisdom of, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matt 7:1). It is foolish and presumptuous to think that they are not with God, and even more presumptuous to think that God is with us and not with them.

We may be able, very cautiously, to consider that some people don’t seem to be aware that they have God in them. Then the question arises, “Is it crucial to know that you have God in you? Is it crucial what you consciously believe?” (Compare, “What must I do to be saved?” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:30-31) Well, your awareness makes some difference, it’s bound to, but I am not at all sure that it’s the whole answer, by any means. My thinking goes like this:

Some people declare, “I only believe in the facts, me. I only believe in what I can see with my own eyes.” Really? Do you believe in air? No one can see air. You can feel a breeze against your cheek, or the wind blowing your hair, but you can’t see it. We know about air by observing air’s effects, through experience. We certainly know the effects of lack of air, within seconds. But the existence of air, or certainly the existence of oxygen, the bit we need, was only discovered in the scientific age. It is not necessary to know about air or to believe in air, to gain its benefits. It is only necessary to breathe; you don’t need belief, only lungs.

I would say, likewise with the spirit. All the animals and most of the people have always breathed, without knowing what they breathed. I will say that people who do not know that they have God in them, have God in them. They live, without knowing how they live. There is to my knowledge no instrument or scientific method that can prove (or disprove) God’s existence. Only the promptings in our hearts and minds can lead us to awareness of God’s presence and love for us, but our hearts and minds need to be tuned to that awareness, which doesn’t come easily.

I also believe that it is a good thing to effect some sort of introduction between God and the people in whom he dwells, if at all possible. There is doubtless no need to say, “God, this is Man.” He knows. But there is every need to say, “Man, this is God.” Gently, always very gently.

1 comment:

Laura Kerr said...

I think this is very good. Thankyou Paul. I think your blogs are usually good.... I dont always say so but I always enjoy them. Thanks.