The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

To receive cohort emails, join our Google group.


The Many Sides of Truth

Since a few people have opened the discussion of "truth" in it's many forms, I thought I might try to pose a question to the group and welcome everyone to post. (If you were my students, I would say I am "strongly encouraging" you :) I think a challenge when discussing the idea of "truth" is that there are really many levels, many facets, many dimensions and angles and most importantly experiences of truth. Each is valuable, and really true, but sometimes we tend to overemphasize the intellectual aspects.

So my question is, how have you experienced "truth" lately? A conversation? An image? A dream? A feeling? Something you read? Saw? Heard? Thought about? Perhaps if we share our personal encounters, it may help us to catch a glimpse of the many beautiful sides of truth.


Andrew said...

Wow, what a post: the mother of all posts. Where do see truth? I believe there is absolute truth, I don't know if I believe I can really know it in my head bound to this body bound to this earth, at least not for more than a moment. Seeing through a glass dimly, my surest sures occur as mere glimpses. I wonder why God instructs the truth RAM of our brain to refresh so quickly. Why aren't we able to honestly be certain for certain? Sometimes I think there is some fundamental limit in the physical make-up of this universe/construct that prevents absolute certainty.

Physicists talk about 11 dimensional superstring theory and how there are ways of moving other than up, down, side to side, front to back. Sometimes I wonder if God's revelation of small 't' truths to us is like those higher dimensions that we don't even know how to visualize. Yet I know it when I'm in it: feeling soul awakening music, standing in a sun soaked stain glass cathedral, cresting rock strewn peaks. Even while working for school, moments when I'm totally into a design and time completely vanishes, somehow that dimension of truth is flipped on or activated or larger in that time.

But I can honestly say that big T Truth happens when almost exclusive when fully engrossed in the His word or the kind of relationships that are based on His word. And this experience is not just a mere reading, but poring over, into, and out of, whether studied intentionally or spoken relationally. This Truth seems the most real to me.

Maybe I've been brainwashed or conditioned to think this way, but if all the facets of Truth in my life are mere shadowy things, this Truth of Love from God is by far the least fuzzy. It becomes sharper with every additional prayer, song, heart to heart, coffee-shop debate, devotion, and loving relationship; yet for me it is somehow tied to the words in the Bible. Maybe it's not for everyone, maybe God doesn't need to limit his revelation to 66 books, but for little old Western minded rational thinking left brainers like me, it works pretty well.

True that.

kevin said...

Truth is trust. If I am indeed following God authentically and not my own desires. I need to put my entire faith in the fact that I can trust God at His word.

Nick Johnson said...

Jesse, good question and, more importantly, good picture choice. How did you pick it?

Anyway, I confess to not really having a clue how to answer this question. I spend most of my time in academia deconstructing truth and most of my free time doubting, which leaves me with very little time for truth finding. Beyond that I am also researching quite extensively a virtual universe called Second Life and in conjunction with that reading a lot of post-modern theory on hyper-reality and the simulacrum. I won’t really write about it here, but I’d be happy to talk about it sometime (not that I understand it at all).

That being said, other than basic truths – such as that I’m pretty sure I’m typing right now, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to play a little Zelda later, I suppose the only “truth” I have confidence in is in some sort of a higher power which probably closely resembles the Christian God. I believe that this being loves me, cares for me, wants what is best for me, wants the world to be a better place, and will at times intercede. I also believe that he somehow came onto our earth a couple thousand years ago and died for our sins, though I don’t really understand what that means and I would question anyone who says they have it totally figured out. I do, however, know that I have a relationship with Jesus as I have experienced it in my own life, but I also know that my understanding is a best a shadowy two dimensional picture of a 3 (or perhaps 11, as Andrew suggested) dimensional being. Now, none of my experiences in the past couple weeks confirm this belief (which I think is what you are asking Jesse), but I trust myself when I say…Nick, believe in this Jesus fellow because he has helped you in the past and likely will again.

I will close by saying that, at this moment, I have little faith in the truth of prayer. This is likely because I haven’t experienced any results lately that have spoken to me as beyond coincidence.

Okay, well that probably didn’t answer your question…but it was fun.

Jesse said...

I got that picture (as well as most of the ones I post on the blog) from a great royalty-free site: http://www.sxc.hu/

This was about a week ago, but I really experienced truth on a Saturday night as Kellye and I sat with both of her parents and her brother in a small room playing a silly board game. Kellye's brother, Jon, had been struggling with the flu for over a week, and he was really tired. But we played this game together, laughed, teased each other and just helped Jon feel better. For a brief second, I recognized that the time spent with family was very real, in the sense that it was more valuable, more present, more concrete and reliable than many other things I was concerned with.

In the same lines, and also on the topic of prayer, about two weeks ago, Jon was a few minutes away from having to go to the hospital b/c of a high temperature. Looking back, I would say there was probably several hundred people praying for him that evening and through the night. By the morning, his temperature had gone down significantly and he has gotten stronger every day. In those type of situations, there is always a choice to see it as a coincidence, or to believe that our prayers were truly answered. It's certainly a tough call, and not something I can "know absolutely" - but I choose to believe. And when I do, I have a distinct confidence and assurance in my spirit (I believe it is God) telling me that he did answer my prayers.

I don't share that to try to "prove" anything, but I know there is value in sharing our experiences, especially spiritual experiences. They help us to understand truth just a little bit more.

Anonymous said...

Nick's commentary is deep and very thought provoking -- thanks Nick. I'm wondering where the process of deconstructing truth leads in the bigger
(or newer) philosophical paradigms. Can you add insight there ?

Re prayer: I see it more as a means to align our minds and expectations with who and what God is and does rather that a process of requesting and obtaining things that we think we want.


Kristen Kuzmick said...

I agree with the previous comment. I think that modern christians have made prayer a persuasive tool with God, that if I just pray the right way, God will give me what I want...

It becomes a sort of negotiation, rather than conversation, in which the goal is to get an A on this test or to make money at that job. I think that it's better to think of prayer as aligning oneself with God's will (whatever that is...). Jesus says not my will, but your will.

After last night at Mac's, I'm really looking forward to watching Rob Bell's video and discussing prayer. I think it is a really difficult concept and I know I definitely struggle with it.

Is there a "right" way to pray? I would surely like to know if the way I talk to God is "right."