Monday, March 10, 2014

The De-Evolution of Thinking with Stanford Nutting

The last post on this blog included the photo below. I had also posted it on Google+ with a simple caption that read, “Although a lot could be said about this, I think the photo says it all.”
Kevin O'Brien as Stanford Nutting

I was surprised at some of the comments it received. Here were some thoughts from myself and a couple of acquaintances from Google+.
The Sweater
Perhaps a throwback to what a 1970’s CCD teacher might wear, or perhaps it stands for the square of truth you decide to take while choosing not to believe the other truths. Pick a color! Of course, we must be inclusive and accept every version of truth, so that all the colors of our world can come together like one giant ugly sweater. The sweater seems unified, but note the black chasm between each color.

1. What is “Truth”?
This is about questioning absolute Truth. It could be asked sarcastically, but many will sincerely contemplate this, really seeking what is true in terms of things like morality, justice, goodness, love, etc. Or perhaps seeking to answer what the nature of Truth is, rather than a particular truth of a particular matter. In this context, one can understand Pontius Pilate's identical question in the gospel of John 18:38, and of course the answer is a concrete one, Jesus Christ, the man standing before him.
2. What is?
Could this be a “fill in the blank” or just the beginning of whole new level of bewilderment? This question seems to no longer be asking about truth at all, but asking about existence. What IS? What exists? What is anything? But, if we go by the suggestion of the conclusion of the first question, we might say it more properly as "Who is?", and then we end up with God, the one whose name is "I AM", the one who “IS”, existence itself.
3. What?
One is confused or maybe surprised, but perhaps still searching coherently to some extent. The question is simply "What?" This is a common way of expressing concern, astonishment or mishearing, an attempt to confirm what has already been said. It is clear that something of significance has been mentioned in the two questions above, but comprehension has not been reached, so it needs repeating or perhaps just leaves one in shock

4. Wha?
One is now deep into the muddle. The question is no longer coherent; it remains unfinished. Imagine you walk into a room and say “Wha?” You realize something strange is going on in the room and say “never mind, I don't want to get involved".  Upon further examination of the previous questions, the answers are too large or out of reach, and one is left feeling both confused and maybe slightly stupid or in a state of extreme disbelief.

5. ?
Now there are no words at all, which means there is no more dialogue. If there is no more dialogue, we end up with the dictatorship of relativism. If you have your truth and I have mine, there is no point in even discussing any of the above. In this scenario, might makes right; you will agree or be punished. The purpose of life and the nature of man are lost in a fog, but there might be two paths forward…seek or despair.

One can desperately and blindly continue into the fog, or perhaps “?” can trigger a humble state. One is at a loss for words, a state of unknowing, not even knowing what to ask. One has encountered something so foreign that it is impossible to even guess at anything that would shed light on it. As if a stranger started speaking in a foreign language, you have no clue as to what is going on. This could trigger a proper state in which to receive God’s grace. There are no further questions, but one is open to the answers or instructions that may come. Assumptions are dropped, and one waits for whatever is given. Perhaps the awe of the Lord as a gift of the Holy Spirit is soon to follow this kind of “?”.

These are just some ideas as to the meaning of each question. What do you think? We know you’re out there.