Monday, March 24, 2008

The Great Puzzle - A Blog In Three Parts



Picacho Peak, 35mm Ektachome Slide

Part-1 - Indoctrination Into Our World

Prolog - The Great Blue Herron
Part-1 - Indoctrination Into Our World
Part-2 - We Are All Disabled
Part-3 - The Hidden Senses


I don't drive much. I have the luxury of being able to walk to work. I think about a lot of things during these walks that most of my peers never get to ponder. I get to think about the minutia of life that we as a society seldom have time to dwell on. Many of those things have made their way into my Blogs and as I scan back across almost 4 years of writing, patterns have started to emerge.

The question of who we are and why we are here has been an ongoing theme. Walking to work in the morning twilight with my iPod and passing a homeless person sleeping on a bench makes me wonder. I realize that we have more in common than we have in differences. The only real things that separates us are money and ambition and little else.

When we are young our society and our parents provide an indoctrination into who we are and why we are here. This is usually based on family values, religious doctrine and the experiences of our elders. The religious aspect is a set of rules and codes of behavior that have been passed down through the ages. These codes come from a higher power that is more omnipotent than we can ever imagine. But from the very beginning there were cracks in this facade.

While tolerance was the watch-word in my family, the idea that there were other faiths and other ways of believing sort of puzzled me. If there was one true God, wouldn't it be sort of obvious? If there was one true God, why were we always fighting over how to worship him/her? Even as a 10 year old I was confused.

By the time I left home as a young man I was skeptical and asking a lot of questions. During this time in my life I was curious enough to check out the Bible on audio tape from a local library. I wasn't disciplined enough to read the whole thing, but I could certainly 'listen' to it while I did my laundry and washed the dishes.

Listening to the Bible proved to be an eye-opening experience. Most folks today concentrate on the 'New Testament'. The 'Old Testament' isn't quoted much anymore with the emergence of the Evangelical movement. In short, the Old Testament is a 'manual' for living. It tells you how to live, what to eat, what is right, what is wrong and what the punishment is for your sins. It references construction, medicine, social doctrine, etc, all under the gaze of the one true God. By the way, the God of the Old Testament is neither kind, merciful or loving. He is pretty black and white and you don't want to cross paths with him.

The New Testament however, deals with 'guilt'. The concept that you are going to sin, you shouldn't feel good about it, but it is OK, because god is going to make it all better in the end. This is pretty profound stuff. The first book tells you how to live, and the second book tells you not to feel bad because you couldn't live up to the first book. The more I was exposed to other points of view and other cultures the more the divine alter of Christianity got chipped away.

As I grew older the world started to compress. I moved around a lot as child which gave me a lot of different view points. I started listening to shortwave radio in college to get a more worldly view. The internet started to come online by the time I was 20 which shrunk the world even more. By the last year of college I considered myself a free thinker and religion was dead to me. It appeared that Lenin was right, "Religion was just the opiate of the masses." Constant war among religious factions, Darwinism vs creationism, Television ministries that rake in millions from the poor all made religion seem like a big sham. It seemed to me that something was just screwy if we were buying into all of this.

Then a funny thing happened. Funny things happen in life when you least expect them.

Outside the town where I went to college there is a mountain named Mary's Peak. The mountain is in the Coast Range of the Cascade Mountains and you can drive to the top it. From the summit you can see the entire Willamette Valley to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. My college buddies and I often times drove up to Mary's Peak to party the night away. Such was the case one summer night during my last year of college.

While I lay on the mountaintop meadow in a languid, inebriated state, I gazed at the stars and wondered. As my mind drifted across the universe things started to fall into place like the pieces of some vast jigsaw puzzle. I couldn't make out the whole picture, but I could see where a few of the pieces interconnected.

I looked at the millions of stars over my head and then looked at the twinkling lights of Portland to the north. I looked at the complexities of my hands and fingers and then traced the veins of a leaf that I picked up off the ground. I pondered the endless blades of grass, all similar but all a little different and compared them to the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the beach.

"This all can't be just random chance.", I thought. It is too complex, too intricate. There is a method here, a sort of logic, but it is just outside my mind's ability to grasp. As those pieces started to fall into place, it felt like I took a small step, a baby step. The universe ceased to be a big blur and came a little more into focus.

As the years have passed, more pieces have fallen into place. Slowly at first, and I am sure I missed a couple because I wasn't paying attention. But as I have aged, the picture they are creating has become more and more clear.

(Part-2 - We Are All Disabled .... coming soon)