Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Pi and Babies

There will be no craft to this writing. I apologize for the stream of consciousness.

On Wednesday mornings I have breakfast with a friend. He's an (almost) PhD in theoretical mathematics. We've been having breakfast because I'm working on a project and the math is a bit above my head. We show up, we drink coffee and eat Panera, we talk about the project for about an hour. Usually we make what feels like a quantum technical leap, which bring us one big leap forward in a project that has required lots of big leaps. After we've hit a wall we talk for about fifteen minutes more about friend stuff. I talk about the day. He talks about one of two things:
--Theoretical math:
For example--my friend taught a lecture on the search for finding pi to infinite digits. This is theoretical, and figuring out that digit z is 4 barely matters. In this case the process matters more than the outcome.
--His soon coming baby
For example--my friend's wife had a dream that he's already had the baby and he held his baby and cried and was happy. Another time he accidentally referred to the process of the baby pushing out his wife's stomach as glacial. That was a mistake.

Sometimes we also talk about faith.

Leaving our meeting today I was thinking about some conversations I've had recently. Pretty much every Christian I know is coming to grips with what might be defined as the broadening of the evangelical mind. I mean by this the idea that most twenty somethings are giving a more thorough treatment to the reconciliation of faith and reason. The goal is no longer to pimp slap postmodernism, but to attempt to reconcile it with biblical reality and see how well the two reconcile. This is a good thing. But as always in subcultural Christianity I think we're swinging too far on that particular pendulum.

A lot of the Christian life is a pi question. The process matters more than if we ever actually get there. The pursuit of God's heart trims me to fighting weight and that's good. This pursuit is pretty much theoretical because I'm still broken, but that's OK. The fact that I'm not going to perfectly reflect his likeness in no way diminishes the pursuit.
Some of the Christian life is like finding pi...but not all of it.
Right now the young church has an intellectual hard on for the fact that we can question stuff and not feel as ostracized as we once would have been. Again this is Good. What's not good is when everything becomes a pi question. Sometimes things are just true. My friends love for his child may not be empirically demonstrable, but it is still and absolutely TRUE.

I fear that as a church we are reacting to a pretty stupid evangelical culture that doesn't value wisdom and the pursuit of truth by creating a pretty stupid evangelical culture that values sophistry.

Perhaps the reason it bothers me is that I love a vision of Christianity where there is certainty over love, and over God's awful goodness, and over the call of the Spirit to adventure. If the "look I'm edgy" crap that passes itself off as neo Christian insight is truly the best thing that faith has to offer my mind it provides de facto confirmation that faith and reason truly are divorced.

Put in fewer words: The love of Christ is not theoretical.


Blogger Keith W said...

wow, great stuff.

4:36 AM  

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