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April 25, 2005

Letting go to get a better grip

He gripped the life raft with both hands as the swells continued to wash over him. Too much water had already washed into his nose and throat, making him cough and gag with each new surge. The grip he had was tenuous. In the raft he could be out of the constant push and pull of the waves, but he couldn't manage to get his legs up with the grip he had. Shifting to a better position would mean letting go of the grip he currently had. It meant risking being washed away from the lifeboat.

But with each swell his grip weakened. Each time he would submerge and the lifeboat would jerk up. Between concentrating on his grip, getting a breath when he was above the water and not letting the water in his nose when he was submerged, he didn't know how long he could hold.

Finally he decided he had to do it. Waiting for the right moment, he pulled himself up and let go, but the waves had another idea. He was washed back into the sea away from the lifeboat. Frantic with fear, he pumped his arms and feet to propel himself toward the lifeboat. Like a nightmare he could feel the waves pull him away as the lifeboat seemed to skip effortlessly away from him. If he lost it there would be no hope.

An unusually large wave pulled him under, and he fought desperately for the surface, aiming as much as he could in the direction he'd last seen the lifeboat. But instead of coming out of the water his head bounced on something solid yet yielding. The bottom of the rubber lifeboat. Slipping his hands along the surface he searched for any sort of hand hold and his fingers grasped the rope that ran along the outer edge. Pulling with one hand he felt the lifeboat slide along the waves toward him as he pulled himself out of the water. His other hand reached and felt the inside of the lifeboat, and he grabbed the inner edge. Rolling he made it into the lifeboat and collapsed in exhaustion, the wave now a gentle rocking against the bottom of the raft.


I wrote the above as an illustration. One thing I've noticed about blogs is that when you read them, you get a quick glimpse into the minds of the authors, and since I have a list of about 70 blogs I skim through each morning, I catch a lot of glimpses. There seems to be a trend with a lot of bloggers, who seem to be in a sort of in between place when it comes to religion. They see the need for morality and structure, but aren't all that keen on religion because it comes across to them as being nothing but hollow rituals and mindless rules. What makes it worse is the constant screeches of the Immoral Left, whining about the imminent threat of some mythical tyrannical theocracy added to the obvious emptiness of so many people who blindly follow ritual and tradition — people who think ritual in itself is religion and will make their lives happier. I can understand why there'd be so much confusion.

America is full of people who were raised in organized religion but left it, discouraged, because to them it was done without any connection to reality. It's sort of like abandoning the use of cars because all the cars you see have no drivers and are always careening around crashing into things.

But then comes real life. Real life is boring and monotonous and mundane and a real let-down after all the exciting things you saw people do on TV during prime time. Success takes lots and lots of hard work and even then you get to watch someone else, who worked a lot less than you, surge ahead. What a dumb plot line. In the middle of the sad realization that life isn't an action/drama (it's not even a sitcom) you start to see why some of the things religion offers may be worth while.

Morality is nothing if it's not grounded in something. But even more than that, unless you're chronically pessimistic, you have to admit God did a great job making a world we've spent all this time screwing up. If you ever really just quietly sit and watch a sunset — eventually you'll feel the need to say thanks. But how do you say thanks in a way that does justice to a sunset or a rainbow or the Grand Canyon? That's where a lot us figured out the reason behind traditions and rituals, even though they're different from denomination to denomination, when they're done as an outward expression of the love and gratitude we should feel toward God, they make perfect sense. Now the car has a driver.

Sometimes to get in the right place in the boat, you have to let go and approach it from a different direction.

Posted by Danny Carlton at April 25, 2005 03:01 PM

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Comments

So you want people to "let go", but there you sit, tightly holding on to the notion that honesty and compassion are values that are soley unique to YOUR denomination, YOUR religion, and YOUR way of thinking.

Case in point as to why people leave, and will KEEP leaving, religion.

Posted by: boomSLANG at April 25, 2005 06:51 PM

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