A young friend and I have been debating the merits of The Secret, a popular philosophy that says what you send out to the universe, in thoughts, deeds and energy, the universe will literally send back to you.
So if you spend day after day thinking positively about receiving, say, a check for $10,000 or a four-carat diamond or keys to a 5,000 square-foot mansion, ultimately they will arrive.
Who doesn’t believe in the power of positive thinking? But there’s a rub though – the reverse also applies. Spend your day grousing about how shitty things are and you’ll draw matching results.
But I mentioned to my friend that The Secret can’t be applied to every situation like, for example, natural disasters, parents and siblings. And this bothered him but he went off and thought about it and later came back and said he’d figured out how to make it work. He said in the case of the spring tornado in Oklahoma, all the people in that community had been thinking of one thing the entire time it was bearing down on them. Tornado! And as a result, that was exactly what they got.
Yeah, I know, not good. Yet, in the end I was able to get him to see that clearly the one thing they were really doing was praying that it would pass them by – which it didn’t. But what fascinates me most is his need to have one thing make sense of everything.
And then it got me thinking of folks who take the Bible literally at every single word. God made the world in seven days. I always wonder, aren’t the first four words most important? God made the world. I mean, if you accept that (and I’m perfectly Ok with it if you don’t), then that is really all you need.
My feeling is that concepts of faith don’t function well as absolutes. An idea that makes spiritual or philosophical sense is there for you to appreciate but not for you to neutralize every unanswerable question to things humans really aren’t supposed to know in the first place – like why innocent people die or why we are here.
But learning to accept this limitation doesn’t mean every theory is wrong either just because they don’t match up. One of my personal favorite ideas of God is him at a giant switchboard frantically sending messages to us from every avenue possible. Like he’s broadcasting all the time and he’s not overly concerned about whether we’re going to get everything exactly right (because he knows we won’t) but that he wants us to get the basics: he is there, he cares about us, he wants us to do good things and ultimately there is a life after this one. That’s it – over and over, all day and all night but we, in our need to play “God” ourselves, keep searching for the one truth that will make sense of his chaos.