For several days now I have been pondering where our culture is headed, one driven by pluralism, political correctness and attempts to accommodate our growing population on this ever “shrinking” globe. Driving some of my concern is the growing debate around spiritual reality and the deafening cacophony of voices emerging from radical fundamentalists, both Christian and others; even a rebirth of atheism is afloat and now, a new word that defines our attempts at tolerance, “faitheism.”
What is reality when it comes to the spiritual? Is the concept of spirit some fabrication by those possessing the “God-gene,” the majority of others living entirely in a secular reality now threatened by the many conflicting religions, most of those perceived as defying true science? Can culture continue to allow “those religious, driven by the fears of personal unknowns,” to jeopardize peace and prosperity? Once that corner is turned, will morality then shift as well, “prosperity” and freedom from religion becoming more important than respect for life and liberty itself? That my friend is the intellectual aperture that accommodates religious persecution and genocide among those once thought civil! Should I mention the Holocaust?
How does one who respects the right of religious expression, esteems the process of scientific thinking, yet harbors true moments of personal “divine revelation”, cope in today’s culture? That, my friend, is who I am.
Science is too real to ignore, but too theoretical to buy as absolute, especially if one has experienced paranormal moments unexplained by generally accepted scientific law. On the other hand, religion alone has its own absurdities, even among those of my own Protestant faith. The latter strike me as bizarre each time I gather with well-educated people who sit silently in aged pews until instructed; those same people then offer up songs of “worship” that hold no reality other than revered tradition. Funerals are often the most bizarre, as humans collide with a certainty too difficult to manage, unless one accepts the fallback position of religion.
Is religion bad? No indeed for many would otherwise perish in life’s struggles. As well, what is it about this universal need among humans that begs religion, man’s attempt to reach to a Higher Being than themselves? Even among Atheists an impassioned desire to disprove takes on its own religious fervor! Does that universal trait not demand some credibility, or is religion nothing more than the opiate that atheists propose, science being the only methodical definer of reality, and religion mere folklore?
Now I come to the crux of my own struggle, explaining the spiritual realities of my personal life experience, especially those occurring outside traditional religious worship. If I remain too silent have I too been less than scientific? Would ignoring my compelling need to share my own discoveries and revelation of a Higher Being, be as wrong as a respected physician, who outside institutionally accepted means, discovers a cure for deadly disease yet never shares that breakthrough, for fear of rejection by other professionals?
Revelation takes one to a dimension of reality that does not exist otherwise and yet, often is based on intangible and irreplicable evidence. Revelation can therefore be discounted as religious and thus debatable at times, but so has been the course with science for centuries, though that debate has not stopped nor has our progress with understanding universal laws. I cannot ignore evidence, the miraculous circumstances of my life, well beyond my control, and if beyond my control, by whom was it controlled?
How has my life been preserved in numerous close calls, even a head on collision in which one car passed through another? Now I have surely exposed myself and my wife, for she was driving! How was 75 year old Leonard Sykes awakened from a coma instantaneously, sitting up in his bed in the Lexington Hospital, the first words out of his mouth, “The Lord’s come over me” when his already grieving wife posed the question? How did that happen on the same day as a young man, ill experienced, awkwardly entered a hospital room, not out of affection for Leonard only, but out of obedience to a “voice” that morning, “If you will pray for Leonard, I will heal him?” Leonard was found greeting and shaking hands with others just a few days later at a local prayer breakfast!
How did I end up in 1997 on a 24th floor windowed, corner perch in a downtown office, twenty years after hearing a voice that promised I would see a city impacted by the gospel, then in no way positioned to become a minister of the gospel, let alone a mayor.
How do I explain the coincidence of the property manager of that building dropping by my church office uninvited, a day after and within the same hour that the voice spoke again, “Tomorrow about this time, I will open the windows of heaven?” That phrase was so congruent with a vision of an open window which I experienced as a child! Even, the weekend before I would be required to offer payment for the use of that same office, after some two years of gratuity and a recent management change, I was forewarned by “the voice” though visiting a friend on the other side of the nation in an unrelated environment. Sure enough, that Monday afternoon, an agent of the new management group dropped by my office to break the news!
Do I remain silent about these phenomena for fear of loss of position in my community at a time when our nation’s culture is shifting drastically? As well, will the “truth” behind my openness be discounted by the failures of my own life, more untimely and intemperate words than actions, and worse yet, I misrepresent the One whom I know as the Christ?
Can I best serve my community as an outspoken and ardent believer or continue as a relatively silent public servant? There seems little room for both in a much politicized and pluralistic nation. Yet, there seems less hope if we continue this downward spiral, so easily predictable when one reads the history of our once religious motherland. We also, may be the last bastion of freedom, known now for over 200 years, though “liberty and justice for all” has not always been the case when good men fail to act.
“Pearls of great price” has new meaning.