My Musings

Lift the Fog

Lift the Fog

I spent most of my college days squinting, living in denial that I needed glasses. When I finally got glasses, I emerged from the optometrist’s office into a crisp new clear world. The fog lifted. Actually, the world didn’t change. I made the change, enabling me to see the world with vivid clarity and distinction.

Because I also don’t always see so well with my heart, I need spiritual glasses too. Without them, the world is far too fuzzy. So, I go to church, pray, study the Bible, and listen to sermons religiously. I also have friends and family to help me clean my glasses. I still have problems but I’ve stopped living in denial.

Jesus has a way of cleaning our spiritual glasses. He said, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37).

Jesus is not limiting our vocabulary. He is calling for clarity.

In college, I had professors who thought their task was to blur my vision. I could impress them with words like “ambiguity”, “complexity”, “dilemma” and “inclusive.” I embraced ambiguity and was rewarded with high grades. I confused my fuzzy thinking with “intelligence” and was proud of it. Art majors like me were especially encouraged to throw away our cultural and spiritual glasses and “see” the world for ourselves. That sounds nice in theory but it resulted in a lot of unclear and uninspiring compositions that got us easy “A”s but left us untrained and untaught.

Foggy thinking pervades the art world today, from the classroom to museum galleries, with some fresh exceptions. I follow trends in the arts culture enough to know that glasses are still unpopular. Clear thinking is not cool.

As I write (October, 2011), a “performance artist” named Marni Kotak is preparing to entertain an audience by giving birth in a Brooklyn “art” gallery. A room is prepared for this event and visitors can sign up to attend (they will be contacted when she goes into labor). A 23-year-old woman from Brisbane, Australia, was interviewed after signing up. She echoed the popular no-glasses philosophy when she said, “I’m interested in the blurring of art, of what makes art and what’s life and how they’re converging in the gallery space.”

Forget about art imitating life or life imitating art. Let’s just blur it all together into a big fuzzy wad so we can posture anything we say and do as “art.” Andy Warhol once quipped, “Art is anything you can get away with.” Clearly, he was against clarity.

Kotak also planned to shower for her artsy audience behind a clear plastic curtain during her labor and to breastfeed her baby after the birth. She said she wants to deal, as an “artist”, with taboo issues of sexuality. The local curator, typically called Kotak’s work “daring, challenging and honest.” (For Details: Birth of Baby X)

In college, I was wrong to walk around in a blur thinking I was seeing fine. I’ve learned a lot since then. For instance, you can’t play basketball without clear boundaries. You can’t play football without clear lines to defend or cross. In baseball, a final authority has to have the last word on judgment calls.

The apostle Paul used musical instruments to make the same point. Calling for clarity in worship, he referred to the flute and harp and asked; “…how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:7-8). Paul added, “So it is with you.”

As a minister, I won’t marry a couple unless I get two clear “I do”s affirming vows with no wiggle room. A commitment is a commitment. And in the name of the One who invented marriage, I only pronounce them “husband and wife”, not “husband and husband” and not “wife, wife and wife.” A marriage is a marriage is a marriage.

I conclude with a humble warning. Don’t be tempted by false clarity either. If you don’t know the answer, don’t pretend. Life involves much that is unclear and unknown. That’s where humble faith comes in. A struggle with authentic ambiguity builds character and teaches us how precious real clarity is. Don’t be seduced into legalistic short-cuts to clarity. But don’t disparage true clarity either. It’s priceless! Seek it with a passion. If necessary, wear glasses.

 

The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

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About the Author:

Joel graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A., completing two majors: Art and Religion. He went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

Discussion

  1. Bekohl  November 16, 2011

    “Jesus is not limiting our vocabulary. He is calling for clarity.”
    I love this! He gives us complete freedom to take a stand–to be known for our “yes” and for our “no”…no wiggling—no wondering–no wastefulness.

    What a refreshing Savior!
    Thanks Joel!
    Ellen

    (reply)

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