Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Anticipation of Mysteries Revealed

As I've grown a little older and a little wiser, I've come to realize that it was the anticipation of opening a Christmas gift that I enjoyed, even more so than actually opening the gift. I remember when I was a kid, the exciting anticipation leading up to the opening of the gifts, yet sometimes being left disappointed by the gifts themselves. Not that I was a spoiled brat, but it's sad to get a sweater when you've been dreaming of a Lego castle or remote-controlled car for weeks. Now, the point I'm trying to make is not about Christmas specifically, but about the anticipation of a mystery revealed, in general.

This culture is one of instant gratification and materialist explanations. It becomes hard to maintain a sense of wonder when placed in these conditions. I will start with the problems arising from instant gratification (though they may be obvious)...

Whether it's fastfood, 24-hour convenience stores, ATMs, or high-speed internet; when we want something, we want it now. It's kind of humorous and ironic when we reflect on how crazy this is in regards to consumerism, but it isn't a laughing matter when it comes to relationships. This culture of instant gratification, along with the exploitation of women, has created a huge problem in relationships between men and women.

Everywhere we turn there are advertisements which exploit men's sexual desires and women's beauty in order to sell products. As a result, men have come to think of women's sexuality as a commodity that can be bought or sold. Men have such easy access to sex or sexually explicit material that when they come across a woman who plays 'hard-to-get', they run away. The woman wants to get to know the man first (she just wants him to make the effort to get to know her), but the man doesn't have the patience to know the women emotionally, mentally, and spiritually before knowing her physically... And just like everything else, if a man wants sex, he has the right to have it right now. It's become so much the norm that people look at you strangely if you tell them you are waiting for marriage to have sex; "why would you wait for anything, if you can have it right now?" is the mentality.

My intention is not to highlight the current situation in male-female relationships, but to show that we have lost something by being surrounded by instant gratification. We lose the ability to wait for the things we really desire; we lose the ability to work through struggles in relationships (we abandon them instead); and we lose the joy that comes from the combination of anticipation and perserverance (...and many other problems arise from these like losing the ability to trust other people, etc.). I think these things ultimately result in the inability to appreciate the wonder in relationships.

Now I would like to talk about the problems arising from materialistic explanations...

My intention is not to imply that science is evil or contrary to faith because I think science is good and necessary. However, I do think there is a problem with presupposing materialistic explanations for everything. I would like to believe that there exist things outside of human understanding. If we suppose we can explain everything in materialistic terms, I think we strip 'the story' of its 'magic'. For example, when a child is told that there is no Santa Claus, and in fact the presents are placed under the tree by mom and dad, this is mindshattering. My objection isn't towards freeing the child from his/her ignorance, but that someone would do this to the child to strip him/her of a sense of wonder.

This is where the story can be applied to my life. It doesn't bother me that there are materialistic explanations to the phenomena of this world (and beyond), but what does bother me is that people would simply endorse these views in hopes of shattering the sense of wonder I have of God. There is no shame in leaving some things mysterious. Actually, I think it's more beneficial to leave some things as mysteries. There is a sense of wonder instilled in us when we are waiting in eager anticipation of a mystery yet to be revealed. The sense of wonder doesn't come from the revealing, but from the anticipation.

Enough said for now... I leave you with this quote from Albert Einstein...

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."


Blogger It's a Nicky said...

I think another part of this discussion then you have raised the rise in entertainment. It is interesting to me that some people need to live in constant entertainment.

To me this is a form of childish behaviour. Always having the need to be entertained.

I believe this need to be entertained has caused many people relational problems. If something isn't fun anymore we simply run away.

When we always need to be entertained we miss out on things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. I believe we don't learn any of these things through entertainment but through living life... taking blows... getting ruffed up a bit...having to wait... having to listen...having to forgive.

9:19 a.m.  
Blogger Lee said...

You said that this need to be constantly entertained is childish behaviour, and I would agree with that, but I don't know if that is a bad thing. It may just be misguided. (I guess it depends what you mean by childish. We can learn a lot from children).

I think we are born with this natural tendency towards bigger and better, but we fail to recognize that if we would look to God, that desire would be fed without ceasing.

We've taken our natural curiousity (which should lead us toward God), and satisfied it with entertainment rather than seeking that which has no equal on earth or in heaven (namely, God).

This entertainment you speak of is a very passive curiousity (involves no action), but the wonder of God is active (we seek out God). We have traded this healthy active wonder for a lazy entertainment.

I think you have a good point that we miss out on love, joy, peace... when we take this lazy entertainment.

Thanks for your comment, I hadn't considered that part of it.


1:57 p.m.  
Blogger Mike said...

sorry i was going to comment but my attention span has been truncated due to the massive amounts of entertainment i have been exposed to.

7:18 p.m.  
Blogger It's a Nicky said...

I guess the kind of entertainment I was calling childish. Was the numming kind of entertainment such as TV. Where you sit and forget that you are a person and you live a life.

So i agree with what you are saying about learning from children.

Rock on

9:02 p.m.  
Blogger Mike said...

you need to read Postmans "Amusing Ourselves to Death"

He thinks we are in an orwellian nightmare now and don't realize it. which, i suppose, would be the case if you were in an orwellian nightmare cause that is the point of that kind of system.

10:56 p.m.  

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