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Decision-Making & the Church

I hardly ever write about current events, but a recent occurrence aligned with some thoughts I encountered, and it seemed worth exploring here.

The Church in Wales (part of the Anglican communion) recently voted to allow women to serve as bishops (see BBC news). Women have already been permitted ordination as priests (since 1994), and this move was made as the next logical step.

In fact, one of the arguments made by the archbishop was that it would be inconsistent to agree to ordain women as priests and not bishops.

The only way such an argument works is if the initial decision was well-founded. Otherwise, we run the risk of establishing an errant foundation and then building on it.

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure where I stand. I’m not completely comfortable with the ordination of women in general, and yet one of the most excellent ministers and Bible teachers that I’ve had the pleasure of working with is a woman–and the church certainly would’ve been the worse without her. Ultimately, it’s not my decision to make, but I am concerned with our general approach to decision-making.

It’s good to desire consistency, but if this notion of consistency is to serve as a crucial platform for decision-making, then that requires all the more studiousness to get it right.

In this context, I recently read an essay by C.S. Lewis entitled “Priestesses in the Church?” Published in 1948, Lewis is somewhat prophetic as he explores the issue of ordaining women, and highlights a specific line of reasoning that I found insightful and challenging. You should certainly read it (especially if you’re a Jane Austen fan).

As the archbishop made his argument for consistency, it made me wonder: was the first decision well-made? Is it a valid place for us to launch forward from?

Which then makes me wonder about my own decision-making.

In mathematics and logic, we sometimes talk about syllogisms, a sequence of statements, one following after another, which are intended to lead us logically to a conclusion. Syllogistic logic is fine…but it rests on a crucial fact: the starting statement must be valid. Depart from that, and you can prove or agree to anything.

What are my starting points? What are my assumptions, my presuppositions, my axioms? How often do my current decisions come back to one of these earlier foundations? When examining a choice or dilemma, I often just try to wrestle with the issue before me; perhaps it would be more pertinent to dig back farther, to see if my foundations, my values, my chain of reasoning up to this point is sound. Not that we have to re-examine everything every time, but with some intentionality, at least on occasion, it seems worthy to ask–especially if I’m going to measure my consistency not on the Word of God or the traditions of the Church, but on my own relatively recent choice.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2013 in Theology

 

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Developing a Virtual Palate?

Last Monday was our 7th wedding anniversary.

To celebrate, my wife and I went to dinner in a neighboring town. Big surprise, right? You’re already wondering why you should continue reading this blog post; seems like pretty standard fare so far. (Yes, there’s a shameless pun there.)

Actually, I was surprised, as this dining out occasion led me to experience the best plate of food that I’ve had in this country.

Even more surprising? I owe it all to BBC.

No, we didn’t win some contest that paid for the dinner. I owe it to the British Broadcasting Company because they single-handedly refined my taste buds so that I could enjoy this meal at a whole new level.

Yes, watching TV has apparently improved my palate.

Sounds ridiculous. How could subjecting myself to a significant number of episodes of MasterChef and The Chef’s Protege possibly develop my physical ability to appreciate food?

There are plenty of science fiction ideas (and even realities) about 3-D television, “smell-o-vision”, and even “4-D” amusement park experiences. But a regular television program, watched on a small laptop screen…how could such an encounter impact me so tangibly?

Despite the distance–and the lack of actually tasting any of the food–these BBC programs helped develop my awareness of the issues surrounding the creation, taste, and enjoyment of food. After listening to hours of critique, my wife and I have developed a vocabulary and a bit of a discerning perspective when it comes to dining. The impact extends even further, as my wife is sometimes inspired to professionally “plate” our own humble home-cooked meals.  🙂

We’ve been educated, we’ve been shaped, by these experiences. Our virtual palates have been translated into the refinement of real taste.

This is not to say that there’s no place for actually learning by physically experiencing both good and bad food. But it does convince me that our virtual, distance experiences are real.

We make much, in this modern era, of distance communication, virtual community, and remote relationships. We talk about the ability to be anonymous or to shape ourselves into any sort of avatar that we may desire. We pretend that we can live a separated existence online, hidden by the virtuality of it all.

But I don’t think we can. Virtual experience is still experience. The encounters we have courtesy of the Internet shape us; they cannot be limited to only impacting our online persona. We cannot filter ourselves this way.

I carried my BBC experience with me into the restaurant; I couldn’t leave it behind, relegated to the couch or armchair. And for me, it enhanced my appreciation and interaction during the meal.

But just as possibly, negative virtual experiences can shape us as well.

I cannot count the number of times that I’ve heard people refer to attending “the school of YouTube.” From making balloon animals, to knitting, to fixing engines, we flock to the virtual in order to succeed in the tangible. What a marvelous opportunity! So long as we also realize that our casual, entertainment-oriented online experiences also shape our interactions in “real life.”

I enjoy my virtually-shaped palate. Now I must ensure that it doesn’t become tainted by ingesting any other sort of online junk.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2013 in Life

 

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