>Think About It

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I remember distinctly one night as I was partaking in the joy of bottomless coffee and a texas bacon steak melt from Waffle house spotting a man sitting by himself in a booth and striking up a conversation with him. I don't like it when people are lonely, and this man looked lonely indeed, so I set out to fix that loneliness by giving him somebody to talk to. I told him hey and that I'd seen him there before and introduced myself as Hamilton, to which he replied that he was Steven and he was always at this Waffle House. We began to talk about the graphic novel he was reading on his computer screen and I told him that I hadn't read many graphic novels but that I immensely enjoyed the graphic novel that spawned the movie "Watchmen," which I had read around my freshman year in high school. He shared with me the joy of the art of comic books and graphic novels, which moved to his love of computers and on to his passion for learning.

He hadn't finished college but worked a tiny little dead-end job that paid enough to take care of rent, and seemed to be content with this. Also, despite not finishing college, Steven completely obliterated any thoughts that I considered myself well-read. His bookshelf, he described as his "Sanctuary," was full of everything from Javascript and CSS++ manuals to Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. We started talking about deeper things than heavily inked pages of color and art and I mentioned something about things that are more abstract, something in the far reaches of space and contained in vast nebulae in a distant solar system completely oblivious to our existence. At this point, he told me that he did not believe in things that he could not either see or reason himself to. 

This was a valid logic, I told him, because I recognized the frustration with things that could not be explained. I asked him what about ghosts, to which he said absolutely not. I chuckled in agreement and asked him what then about aliens, attempting to test his logic. "I see no reason why I should believe in extraterrestrial life, for it does not pertain to me at all," was his response. I pondered a second at this and asked him how, in an infinitely expanding universe where we are but a cell in the skin of the fabric of existence, he could reason himself to believing that no life exists anywhere else. I took no side, but merely questioned the logic with which he arrived at the definitive conclusion, as per his previous stance of only believing in things he could see or reason himself to. He acknowledged this thought with a nod and told me "what you want to believe, I'll be the last to stop you."

I knew exactly where he was headed with this and then asked him "so what about God?" At this, he immediately froze up and physically turned away from me. "I see no reason why I should believe in God," he said. I continued to ask, gently and without probing, another series of logical questions to try to get him to realize that his hypotheses had gaping holes in them, but he would have none of it. I assured him I was not attempting to convert him to a God-fearing citizen or bring him to the side of Christianity, but to merely have a conversation that stretched both my beliefs and his lack of them. He eventually excused himself from the restaurant and, with somewhat of a perplexed tone, told me he didn't think that "you people" (talking about Christians) knew how to think. I smiled and thanked him for the veiled compliment and offered to buy his coffee, but he refused, paid, and walked out the door.

What he said about Christians not thinking made me wonder for a minute just what it is we're called to do. I know that we are to trust and have faith and believe that God will be the guide to our path, but I think that in no way this excludes us from figuring out these things for ourselves. We are called to "test the spirits and see whether they are from God" (1 John 4:1) and we are to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phillipians 2:12). I have seen the same trend that Steven referenced with Christians taking and accepting at face value everything they are fed, whether it be by a Preacher or a thinker that they respect or a friend who seems to have sound logic. I think that doing this completely perverts what we are expected to do, for the more comfortable we get in another's doctrine, the less it becomes our own. Salvation is not a topic that is corporate, it is a personal issue that is only attained through the personal recognition that Jesus is Lord and that He is the only way to God. We know that we are to follow Jesus as the Disciples did, but this means something completely different for everybody, as it first starts with belief. In order to have belief (as elementary as this is), you need to believe, and you cannot believe based on something that somebody told you. It needs to keep you up at night and bring you to tears in the car and force you to shut off all of the music and noise and motion and distraction around you so that you can focus your mind and heart on the God who will do anything but scream at you. Sometimes He will be cryptic and sometimes He will be vague, and other times He will be completely silent... Jacob wrestled with God in the desert all night, and only after that He was blessed. Nothing about this tells me we are to sit back and choke down what we is put in front of us.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.