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Opening the can of worms


Worm drawing by Maija, re-used under CC license

After 20 posts, this blog is finally taking shape. But the header I gave it, “About predestination and smaller matters” remains an empty promise.

Or does it? Predestination is one of those things that are so central to a worldview that it tints most of the things I say. The very fact that I’m writing this blog as a way to, hopefully, impact some people’s lives, betrays in itself some of my views on the topic. I’m sure there is a link with predestination in every post that I made*.

But there is a reason why I never tackled it openly, and, at the risk of disappointing some of my readers, why I won’t here either. The opposition between predestination and free will is just that: an opposition. Yes, it matters for our understanding of prayer, of salvation and of many other important and relevant issues – but in and of itself, it is a quarrel of the mind.

It is divisive and brings nothing to the table. Worse, it detracts from the issues that are relevant and can be used deliberately to not address issues which are not of the mind. 2 Timothy 3:7 talks of people “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”

Predestination is not the only debate to fall into the trap of grabbing the mind but not the soul. Six-day creationism, same-sex marriage – it can go from the distant past to the practically relevant. I have had a tendency to always grapple with “deep” or controversial issues which bear little relation with anything but my intellect, simply because I enjoy debate. So in a way, this blog is also written to me, as a reminder that, sometimes, the can of worms is best left closed.

I need to qualify this. There are times when the deep questions come to the surface, itching at you. To me, that’s how the fascination with predestination came about – after wondering whether something I had prayed for had set in motion a sequence of painful events, and after wondering how my prayer was fitting with God’s plans or not. Then, my soul and my heart were searching for answers about that big issue. But later, both my soul and my heart’s longings had been satisfied, though my intellect was still given free rein. That’s when it became unhealthy.

So don’t shove big issues under the carpet because they are big, divisive issues. Just make sure that it’s not just your mind that motivates you to seek those answers.

* In fact, to celebrate going past 1,000 views, and in a shameless attempt to get you to read past posts, here’s a competition to win a book. Email me links to predestination you find in this blog; the prize for the most tenuous/hilarious link is Rowan William’s Silence and Honey Cakes, which is a really amazing read! (Competition ends 30th April)

Staying or leaving

1 comment

Jonathan Pearson recently blogged a great piece called “3 signs you need to find another place“.

I’ll just give the three headings again, reading the original post is highly encouraged.

1. Your current place is draining you rather than fulfilling you.
2. You’re giving your current place only half effort.
3. Your current place is affecting your family life. 

We live in a society where quitting is frowned upon, whereas, paradoxically enough, fresh starts are seen positively. It is quite interesting that this post comes only two days after encouragements to push through from the  same blog.

Both views are, of course, compatible. There are moments when it is time to leave, but it shouldn’t be following a temporary rough patch. The three signs are actually a very good way of seeing whether it is just a rough patch or something more serious worth investigating.

I went into academia because it was the natural thing to do. I started off with maths and kept giving it my all till 5th year of uni. Then I realised that I wasn’t thrilled by maths and turned to education. Looking back, what then felt as a natural and perfectly valid transition was a change effected by a desire to leave. Educational research… well, I gave it my all for the first two years, but now, on a PhD course, I find myself agreeing with all three bullet points.

Research isn’t my calling. It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t my calling before, nor that completing a PhD wasn’t my calling to start off with. It means, however, that it is time for me to, indeed, find another place. Time for me to start looking for different directions for after the PhD.

God equips those he calls.

This blog, in itself, is currently where I’m at. I feel blessed to be able to write and share posts with… well, with you :) and this is something I find  both fulfilling and challenging. So thanks for your readership!