Categories
Community Holidays Perspective

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day 2020! I hope all women who are moms can relate to Proverbs 31:25 today. I know women experience this holiday differently, as I have myself during different seasons of my life.

In my early twenties, married and working long hours as a cancer researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and leading a youth group at my local church as a volunteer, the holiday was a day to stand out as different in my church community. The majority of the women in my church were young mothers who did not understand a woman studying to be a scientist. Some looked for every opportunity to belittle my decision to pursue an advanced degree instead of starting a family. I knew at the time that their behavior was a means of making them feel better about themselves at my expense. However, interactions with them were never pleasant. When my mother died of cancer, Mother’s Day was a reminder of loss and a day of longing for a future when I would have children of my own.

Of course, today I enjoy celebrating Mother’s Day with my own beautiful daughters and remember my own mother, dead for more than twenty-four years, with fond memories but no lingering sadness. Thus, I encourage all women to celebrate Mother’s Day today. Celebrate the gift of life given to you by your Mother, whether she is still here to celebrate with you or has gone to her heavenly home. Celebrate the women around you who are mothers, for they give all of us the gift of new life in our society. If your own day is still one of longing or of grief, please remember that there will be different seasons of this holiday for you. For now, celebrate for others. For the women who will remain childless, celebrate how you “mother” the generation to come, either in your profession or as a volunteer. You are valuable and loved. Blessings to all!

Categories
Development History Perspective

Constructing Newton’s Bridge

Fountain-at-PointIsaac Newton, one of the most influential scientists who ever lived, also was a Christian theologian. He once said, “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” His quote resonates with me because bridges filled the landscape of my childhood.

I spent the first eighteen years of my life growing up in “The City of Bridges”. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, contains more bridges within its city limits than Venice, Italy, with the current number of bridges totaling nearly two thousand. Three major rivers come together at the Point, the location of Pittsburgh’s iconic fountain first built in 1974.  In addition to the presence of rivers, the steep hills and ravines around the city make bridges a necessity for transportation. The early European settlers of Pittsburgh quickly learned that they had to choose between living in isolation or finding creative ways to span the waters and valleys.

People cluster on one of two riverbanks in their approach to relating human reasoning to faith. The first approach, common in many Christian circles in my childhood and college years and persisting to this day, revolves around mistrust of the intellect. Acquiring knowledge, analyzing information, and questioning assumptions become suspect activities. Too much thinking means that you are not listening to your heart; you are out of touch with practical concerns; or you are not truly spiritual.

Many Christians find support for mistrusting the intellect in a variety of Biblical passages. All the way back in Eden, Eve’s temptation included a desire for wisdom and knowledge. In Proverbs 3:5, an often-quoted verse reads, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” In the New Testament in John 20:29, Jesus said to the doubting apostle Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” In his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:27), the apostle Paul explained, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

Clustered on the second riverbank, we find those who worship the life of the mind above all else. Human reasoning reigns supreme. The standard for judging truth becomes data collected through the human senses and processed by rational thought. Atheists and agnostics wield Occam’s razor to slice away the possibility of revelation, preferring explanations that avoid spirituality. While the 14th century Franciscan friar William of Ockham was right to suggest that a scientific model should avoid introducing more causes than necessary, the principle often is used to exclude from the possibility of existence everything not perceivable by the human senses. Occam’s razor is a sound approach to the practice of science, but when brandished too freely, justifies positivism. This philosophy persuades those dwell on this second riverbank to stop their search for spiritual truth when they reach the limits of human reasoning and empirical evidence.

Perhaps the two camps of settlers could survive adequately without venturing beyond the limits of their respective riverbanks. Yet I join Isaac Newton and the early settlers of Pittsburgh in the conviction that a richer life waits for those willing to construct a bridge.

Key Concepts to Tweet

  • “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” Isaac Newton  Buffer
  • People cluster on one of two riverbanks in their approach to relating human reasoning to faith.  Buffer
  • A richer life waits for those willing to construct a bridge.  Buffer