The Wonders Of The Internet Part II

I was perusing my access logs on my webserver and I came across this gem. Someone searched Google for “how does broccoli reproduce?” In itself and odd question. Even more interestingly, they were directed to my blog.

[Edit] I should also note, the request came from Dubai, UAE.

Coming Of Age In Information Saturation

There is always a lot of talk about how each generation is different than the last. “Back in my day…” “In the old Corps…” and the like. I do, however, believe that my generation (and I’m probably close to the leading edge of it) is growing up in a very different environment regarding information.

The internet, talk radio, cable news, everyone writes books, the internet (yes, I meant it twice), are all newer forms of information that are bombarding us every day. No one is exempt from these influences, but we are all influenced differently depending on our age. I grew up at a time when all this information was hitting the scene right as I was formulating the majority of my world view. People younger than myself are going to be hit with it even more.

What is the end result? I do not know. However, I do believe that it is having a polarizing affect on people. Back in the day, the more limited amount of information was usually closer to the mainstream (where ever that might be on a particular issue). Because so much information is now availble there is no moderating factor. Things can be as whacked out as they like. On top of this, there is no arbiter of information. It is often difficult to assign value to different sources of information. So some completely far out idea seems as valuable as one that is closer to the real truth.

Just as every generation faces new challenges, this one is now.

Who Are You?

Who are you? It is a good question. How do you answer that? Your name does not really mean much when describing who you are, and the names of your parents do not tell much more.

Often when we want to know who someone is we will ask them what they do for a living. This can tell us a little bit about them, but it can also be misleading. A single data point in a large array of information. So what makes up that information? What makes a person who they are?

When you try to get to the root of a person, you get to the choices they make. You are the result of your choices. These days an occupation is a choice (it was not always so), therefore a more valid question today than it was, say, 500 years ago. Who someone chooses to spend time with, what they do with their free time all tell a little bit about them.

But it goes a little deeper than that. What is at the root of those choices? Priorities are at the root. A person is a set of priorities, we are all the result of our priorities. These too are choices, but a sort of meta-choice at a level we rarely consciously consider.

I think that only by making decisions at this meta-level that we are able to generate our own force to move ourselves in the universe. Otherwise we are just like balls in a pinball machine bouncing from side to side by the forces that surround us.

I think this is the same line of thought as Paul had in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

What is the will of God? A good topic for another post.

Why Paul?

A quick aside, I love how written language fails to communicate so many things. Take the title of this post. What does it mean? I am asking, “Why did you do that, Paul?” Or, “Why choose Paul?” Or something else entirely? In much the same way, we fail to fully understand what Paul/Saul meant in Acts 9 when he said, “Who are you Lord?”

Why did God choose to use Saul/Paul the way that He did? Here we have a guy who wasn’t along for the ride with the Messiah as the disciples were, and yet he is the principle author of most of the theological writings that we take to compose our beliefs. Why was Paul important, why not one of the 12 chosen before?

It seemed to me that this was a pretty important part of understanding the New Testament. It is an often attacked part of the church because so many of beliefs are based on the writings of Paul. So God must have had a very good reason to choose Paul.

After thinking about this for much too short a time (even all my time would probably not be enough), I have come to the conclusion that God required his perspective in order to communicate with us His purpose. Much as I wrote in a previous post, each of us have a particular palette and Paul’s was the one required.

Who was Paul? He was a pharisee, one of the elite of society. He was itellectual, and well learned, studying under Rabban Gamaliel, head of the Sanhedrin. Because of this, he was very possibly present at many of the events recorded in the Gospels and also in Acts where Jesus or his disciples were on trial.

Often times, to understand something it is easier to take a step back. Watch the building being built instead of being inside the whole time. Paul was on the “outside” for all of Jesus ministry. Even persecuting His followers after His death. What he lacked in understanding God’s will he made up for in zeal.

After pentacost, the apostles were “busy” building the church in Jerusalem, into Judea and Samaria (which, the reason for dispersing was probably due to Paul’s persecution). On the road to Damascus Paul meets Christ. Then he spends 10 to 12 years(!) before his ministry begins.
I think this time was really important to his understanding of God and His will. His intellect, his learning, his standing in society, were all important aspects of who he became. And that person he became was just the one God needed to bring his message to the Gentiles (and therefore me, and most probably you).

Inoculation

I had the pleasure of talking to my cousin recently. He is a missionary to Sikhs in India. We got onto the subject of certain cults, and I specifically asked if there were Mormon missionaries in Chandigarh (population over 1 Million, about 800 chrisians). He observed they usually target majority “christian” populations because its easier to relate. That took us further into a discussion about the draw of things like LDS and Islam etc. The word he used that has stuck in my mind is “inoculation.”

They way a vaccine works is that it introduces an amount of pathogen into your system. It can come in many forms, a tiny amount that your body has no trouble fighting it off, a closely related pathogen that is not infectious to humans, or in the case of a virus it can be slightly altered so as not to cause cells to reproduce it. The purpose is that once the body recognizes the invader it begins to produce antibodies that match the pathogen. The next time the pathogen enters the body, it has antibodies ready to go to combat it.

Using that analogy I was finally able to wrap my head around the problem I see around me every day. So many people all have been inoculated against truth. They have been exposed to just enough of it to pass it off. Or they have been introduced to it in such a poor way that it does not come across as truth. They have just enough of the truth to make them immune, but not enough to make them well.