A telling question (with functional poll)

Imagine this. You’re taking a solitary walk on the beach one day, completely immersed in the world of your own thoughts as you wonder how humanity should respond, should the bears decide to rise up against us. Just about the moment you conclude that Al Gore would be a perfect ambassador to the bear people, your little wiggly toes strike against something hard in the sand. You guessed it. A lamp. You pick the thing up and do what any responsible adult would – you rub it like it’s the tummy of a basset hound. And, just as you expected, a purple-skinned man in a turban pops out, sans shirt. You don’t waste a second on introductions,  immediately informing him that, for your first wish, you’re going to need him to take away the constant itching. That, though, is where your expectations begin to fail you.

“That’s not how this works.” He calmly informs you. You don’t get three wishes, he explains, or even one. Instead, he has a very serious offer to make you, which you can either accept or reject. That’s the deal. The offer, he tells you, is a sort of enlightenment. There are many deep, cavernous truths of the world – of existence – about which you are totally ignorant. You are in a sort of darkness about things. He will turn the lights on for you, showing you the world as it is, and so empowering you to live your life in line with truth, knowing good from bad, right from wrong, fantasy from reality, and beautiful from ugly. But there’s a catch, he says. The opening of your eyes that he offers will cause you great pain. These truths will, largely, be greatly distubring to you; they will hurt you to know. He doesn’t mean that he’ll show you every suffering baby in the world, but that he’ll expose to you the truest nature of things, which he says will at times scare you, destroy some of your cherished loves in life, and possibly throw you into depression.

It is not all so bleak though, he tells you. From this low, existentially depressed state you can work toward a new life, with new happinesses in line with your right view, but that will take time and you will forever live with a slight sense of melancholy which, though it won’t keep you from experiencing real, deep happiness, will cast a sort of solemnity on most things, and you will not be able, in this new life, to take joy in many of the things you do now, for they will seem fraudulent and thin.

So, here’s the question (poll):


*Answers will be revealed after a few days – once there are enough votes to be a decent sample, so send friends if you care to know how our people generally decide.

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  1. #1 by Alex Marshall on 12.18.08 - 12.32 am

    So realizing this blog is not supposed to be heavily religious in nature, this thought is kinda religious. But maybe we can call it philosophy cause it has to do with a matter of interpretation… It occurred to me while reading that this story sounds very, very similar to the story in Genesis 3 of man’s fall (a lot of similarities in the offer particularly). I’ve been thinking about this story a bit lately in relation to thinking through the implications of some things NT Wright has written, and a possible interpretation came to mind based on your story here. Do you think that man’s “fall” was not so much his eating the fruit as his response to eating the fruit? In other words, man’s eating the fruit was an “expander of knowledge” similar to the offer in your story, but after getting this expanded knowledge, man then immediately turns around and hides from God. I’m wondering if the knowledge itself what was off-limits for man (which seems a little troublesome for a variety of reasons) or if man’s response was what constituted his fall.

    • #2 by Michael Glawson on 12.18.08 - 12.52 am

      Alex, I’m not sure I’m getting the question. Why would it be his hiding, rather than his disobeying that would constitute the nature of the fall? And I think that there are a few disanalogies with the question here (apart from yours being religious) in that there was something wrong with eating the fruit in eden, but there’s no reason to think that taking the genie up on his offer would be wrong, the reason eating in eden was wrong is because the knowledge gained was experiential – that is, one knew good and evil experientially, because the eating was disobeying. This is not the case with the genie, because at no point is the knowing here a doing of wrong, so though I see some strong surface similarities, I think they’re quite distinct scenarios.

      (Be sure to actually vote….that box up there is functional).

  2. #3 by Michael Glawson on 12.20.08 - 11.41 pm

    Well, it’s been a few days so, as promised, the results are viewable now. The most interesting thing, to me, though is that, out of the forty-five independent views (by IP address) only three viewers voted! Perhaps that is as telling as anything though. 🙂

  3. #4 by Michael Glawson on 1.11.09 - 6.40 pm

    So, the results at the moment are 86% yes, 14% no, which amounts to 1 vote no. I’m not sure if this is still getting read, but if anyone would like to comment (even anonymously) on having gone the way they did, I (and I’m sure anyone else reading) would be interested in hearing. 🙂

  1. Being a thinking Christian « Friendly Fire

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