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Gravity

Oh! Gravity!

[box_holder background_color=”] “Oh! Gravity.”

There’s a fracture in the color bar                                                     1

In the backseat of a parked car

By the liquor store where the streetlight

Keep you company ’til the next night

In the same town, there’s the same scar                                           5

In the same glow of the liquor store

By the freeway, where the headlight

Keep her company ’til the next night

Oh! Gravity.                                                                                             10

Why can’t we seem to keep it together?

Sons of my enemies,

Why can’t we seem to keep it together?

In the back room of the Pentagon                                                      15

There’s a thin man with a line drawn

With a red jaw and a red bite

Watch the headline on the next night

Why this tragedy?                                                                                  20

Why can’t we seem to keep it together?

In the fallout, the fallout

We found out the hype won’t get you through

We’re connected, connected                                                               25

I meant it, the hype won’t get you through

 

 

I lay back on the carpet, beige and plush, that spread out from the center of the living room in the mid-1990s home in which I and my friends talked of the challenges of our ministry at Walla Walla University in the upcoming year. My friend, Troy, lay enveloped in a suede beanbag between me and the coffee table. While our lifestyles were quite different, our way of processing our world was similar, and when the rest of our friends went to bed, we stayed up, swimming in our cocoa and floating between the melting marshmallows, finding the sweet pockets of paradox that floated with us as we stirred about a varied mix of free will and divine omniscience. How could it be that God could both know what we will choose, have divine guidance over us, and yet, still truly give us our free will? The metaphors melted into the mix with us as we conversed into the night. We resonated so strongly with each other in the way that we thought, the way that we processed, that I felt here was someone who truly knows what it means to see through my eyes. Somewhere after the spoon struck midnight, there followed two light whirlpools in the bottom of the mug, and as we better defined our metaphors for how we would deal with the theological paradox of an all-knowing God and humanity’s free will, the whirlpools grew, each catching us and separating us from each other. Whereas, at the beginning of the night, I felt that we were so in resonance, now I started to realize that we really did have differences. These differences were not so much as to say one of us was cocoa and the other coffee, but perhaps the difference between Swiss Miss and the store brand. Therein lies the trouble, for both of us would probably claim to be the Swiss Miss – the real deal, and both would have relegated the other to the generic label.

The band, Switchfoot, laments, “Oh, Gravity, / why can’t we seem to keep it together?” (ll.10,11). This lament strikes me so deeply right now, for with each passing Adventist Review article, or Ted Wilson sermon, or “I Support Women’s Ordination” post on Facebook, I see my denomination starting to strain. Some say that it is because heresy has infiltrated the church in recent times, and that we must strive to look to our founding roots. Others say that there is a sickness seeded deep in our hearts from the dawn of the church, one which is slowly being cured by the steady revelation of the next new understanding given to us in present truth. The song rings so true that “In the back room of the Pentagon / There’s a thin man with a line drawn” (ll. 15, 16). If the language bandied about in both pro and anti-women’s ordination communities doesn’t resemble that of the war room, I don’t know what does. The same reality proves true as with my friend and me, both sides claim to be the Swiss Miss.

I wonder what it felt like when the Catholic Church split for the first time. Did mothers demonize sons? Did fathers demonize grandfathers? Adventism often celebrates the Schism of the 1100s as the first step toward purification, but listening to the accounts of Michael Cerularius’ closure of Latin-speaking churches makes me wonder what Christ thought of this first tearing of his bride. Did He see one side as being His, and the other side not? Did both sides think they were the Swiss Miss and see their opponents as the generic brand?

As Switchfoot asks, “Why this tragedy? / Why can’t we seem to keep it together?” (ll.20, 21). It seems that we cannot. Since that first split there has been split after split after split. To what extent has the bride of Christ has turned into a crack addict? Have her disparate parts become so obsessed with finding and widening the cracks that separate them from each other, and the church as a whole from the rest of the world, that she has lost track of how the reasons she splits relate back to the principles of love, grace, and acceptance?

And now for the mirror… When I look deeply inside, am I also addicted to defining myself against those with whom I disagree? I find it easy to look at formal churches and say “If that’s where my church is headed, I’m splitting off!” I find it easy to be just like the disciples in Luke 9 and start asking. “Which theology is the greatest? Is it mine or theirs?” From that mirror, Jesus’ answer still comes as clear as it came to them. “But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, ‘Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.’” Luke 9:47-48. And then I find myself pressing the matter just like the disciples did. “I saw other people casting out demons in your name, people who weren’t like us, should I stop them? Should I tell them they are not true followers? Should I refuse to fellowship with them? Should I warn everyone around me of the dangers of being corrupted by them?” Jesus’ answer, once again, is stark: “Do not hinder them; for they who are not against you are for you.” Does this mean that differences of opinion do not matter? I think it would be going overboard to say that they absolutely do not, but the more I talk with and get to know others, the more I realize that no one really agrees. They may think that they do, but eventually, if they talk enough, they will find the difference, and then it becomes so easy to hype those differences. Perhaps, rather than looking for a laundry list of theological differences, I should be looking for those who are accepting the child in Jesus’ name. Perhaps I should be looking at who spreading the good news of Jesus and who is banishing the darkness of sickness and disease.

Troy and I finished our cocoa and climbed into our beds, both disagreeing and, for my part, I thought I was right. The beauty was that I had learned an important lesson: that ultimately, in my exact set of beliefs, I am alone, as is everyone. I realized that I am probably wrong in a lot of the ways I look at things. But sweetest of all, I realized, as I let the taste of chocolate fade, that Troy and I were still friends. We still are friends because slowly I am learning not to believe the hype, for “we’re connected” (l. 25).

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Guest

Hello. My name is Kermit. I don’t actually write for the Haystack. In fact, I have never eaten a haystack. I eat flies. I think those are unclean. And I date a pig too. Miss Piggy. She’s nice.

On any note, just remember that this is a guest account and that all the views expressed within are those of the guest authors and do not necessarily represent thehaystack.tv. Bye-bye!

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