Sunday, March 21, 2010

If a tree falls...

“I hate philosophy,” I heard a girl in the table next to me say. It was startling enough that I looked up from my coffee to the table of undergraduates bustling beside me.

“Philosophy is retarded!” one of her friends agreed. The friend had the look of an engineer, and I was not surprised at his opinion or his inaccurate adjective. I looked back down at my coffee, trying to tune out the philistines.

“I took this philosophy course my freshman year,” she went on, “and we spent half the semester discussing when a tree falls in the middle of the forest with no one to hear if it makes a sound. I spent the whole class wanting someone to shoot me. I wanted to shake the professor and say, ‘This is retarded! It makes a sound already! Get over it!’”

As much as I hate to say this, perhaps the undergraduate was right. Perhaps it is ridiculous. Only humanity could ever come up with such a question; only we could imagine that our perception of the world changes reality.

Perhaps, at least, it is ridiculous (in a damaging sort of way) the way I have enacted the if-a-tree-falls principle in my faith. One of the things that drew me into sacramental theology six years ago after my Pentecostal/Evangelical/Baptist background was the deep peace I encountered in the realization that God’s presence is not dependent upon my ability to perceive it. In a way, sacramental theology is the faith that if a priest breaks bread in the middle of a church with no one paying attention, Christ is still present. And if I come forward without any spiritual epiphanies or transformational feelings, I am still receiving him.

These days, as my initial wonder and surprise at that notion has drifted into confidence and joy, it is a belief that fills me with great hope. There are too many things in my life dependent upon the efforts I can concoct; let the work of redemption, at least, be God’s work.

1 comment:

Madame Rubies said...

Tweeted this post. It has been a comfort to me, also, to realize God does not depend on my emotional response for His actions and presence. Sometimes, my prayer is just, "I know you are there." Be still and know, right?