Monday, April 30, 2007

Introspection, V-GER and the Image of God

Self-awareness is a trait associated with such as the intelligence and free will that set humans apart from the rest of creation. However, I have often bemoaned the inability of people in general to fail to understand their motivations, for such is the power of the lie that seprates us from God, leads us to sin, and keeps our minds clouded from the truth. Therefore, it would seem reasonable to conclude that introspection is a good thing. Introspection is how we maintain our self-awareness and learn to understand our motivations so we can eradicate the internal conflicts that plague us.

Pastor Mark Lauterbach over at GospelDrivenLife has written a brief series on the Beauty of Christ where he acknowledges the value of introspection, but also the folly of introspection that takes our eyes off Christ. After all, introspection without the Light of God is merely peering into the darkness.

This said, I'll demonstrate tempered self-centeredness and focus on myself briefly. I'm what the old folks call "spirited". I've always been marginally hyperactive and have had attention deficit and related memory problems such that my third grade teacher called me "The Absent-Minded Professor". The "Professor" part referrs to my apparent intellectual precocity. I had said I wouldn't bring it up anymore, but I have a relevant point here. I've been askd if I know my IQ. I can honestly say that I don't. I've been tested somewhat, but unconclusively.I once made as low as 115 on a dubious international test. However, most of my scores are above 170 on tests that generally don't test more than 175. One wonders about demographical cross-sections and proper statistical sampling for any of these tests especially when you get to the point where the data range is too small for any sample size to produce accurate results. If my introspective balance is off by much, I'll be continually distracted by my own thoughts and daydream myself into ill-effectiveness.

Such as it is, I'm certainly not infallible and some of the simplest trivial items escape my awareness. Because of this, much of my introspection is geared toward trying to communicate with "normal" people. I often percieve little difference between communicating with adults and children. Children tend to be more honest about it. There is a patter I notice primarily within adults that often irks me. The tendency for most people is to think that everyone ought to think like them. If someone else is more intelligent, then this person merely has more "book knowledge". If someone else is less intelligent, then they are often derided as an "idiot". The value of a person is often ascribed to their capacity to impose their thinking on others. As one who may be hyper-intelligent I doubt my capacity to impart my understanding because I've observed that I'm oft misconstrued. Therefore, exceptional intelligence is typically obscured by social inaccesibility. I live life in benign condescention. Hold that thought because I have another to add...

As a young fan of Star Trek, I was excited back in the late 1970s to learn of the filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture on the heals of Star Wars. I got to see all the characters I got to know in re-runs come back to the screen in a new story. The new Captain of the Enterprise was taking the newly refitted Enterprise out for her maiden voyage with Admiral Kirk and all the old crew aboard. There was trouble entering Federation Space and heading for Earth. A giant cloud was destroying anything in its path as it approached and the Enterprise was called on to investigate. Inside the cloud was this monstrous vessel. A living machine, if machines could live.At the heart of the machine was a simple little device: one of the Voyager space probes launched from Earth. The name marked on the side had been worn and only the letters VGER remained visible. V'ger had been discovered by a planet of machines where it was fitted with the vast machinery and intelligence necessary to complete its mission: to gather information and return it to its creator. Once the crew investigated the insides of the cloud and had discovered this very simple probe was at the heart of it, V'ger disclosed that its purpose was to join with its creator. I'll end the summary there.

Introspectively, I suggest that despite my socialization, I am not terribly unlike others. Any physical, sociological, intellectual, or other machinery that makes me who I am surrounds a simple nugget of my existence: I have been given the mark of my Creator. All of us have. It has been marred and damaged. Of myself, I have not the capacity to accomplish my mission, which is to return to my Creator. Unlike V'ger, we are not alone. Are we tempted to deride others for not being able to think just like us? Are some people idiots or inconsequential bookworms? These people have value. The people who appear to me to have the greatest value are the weakest, for in them can be seen the image of God the clearest. Theologian Henri Nouwen found the greatest theological fulfillment caring for Adam, a mentally handicapped man, in his final years at L'Arche. If we seek to be joined with God, we cannot be flippantly dismissive of those we deem to be of lesser mind than ourselves, for in such individuals can God be most evident.

Do we seek God? We must seek Him in service to others. If I can do it, so can you.

Matthew 25:31-46

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