Sunday, October 30, 2011

Choice?

In the uneven movie Kingdom of Heaven, there is a memorable line:  Islam says submit, Christianity says choose.

I like that, and wish it could be presented as the end-all and be-all of the differences between the two faiths.  Of course, it can't.  For one thing, Christianity has quite a bit about submission to it. 

The question I would pose, though, is how much choice do we really have in life?  How much of "choice" is an illusion?

I bring this up because we heard the choir sing a song today with the words, "I choose to believe."  We enthrone choice:  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  We say that what makes us human is our ability to choose.  But what do we really choose?

Nothing genetic.  Nothing ethnic.  Nothing about our birth.  Nothing essentially about our looks.  Yes, we can change a lot of our looks, but not the bases.  Not our parents, and not how they raised us. Not the choices of other people who may have great influence on us.  Not terminal illnesses. 

No choice is absolute.  We can make choices about our actions but not about the consequences. And bad choices take away our power to make choices in the future.

All our choices are circumscribed by situations we can't control (see preceding paragraph). We choose daily actions, educational paths (if intelligent enough to pursue the educational path), careers (if we have made the right choices in the past.  We can choose our spouse, or we can choose not to choose the person who wants to be our spouse.   We can choose to leave jobs; sometimes we can choose to take jobs.  We can choose medical procedures or not.  We can choose to purchase things.  We can choose our place of worship.  We can choose our religion or its flavor. 

But do we choose--God?  How much do we choose--grace?  I have to say I did not.  It grabbed me, unexpectedly.  When I, at 15, became cognizant of my sin and need for salvation, I do not feel there was much choice in it, 40 years later.  I don't think I could have turned from grace at that point.  Perhaps some people can resist grace; I wasn't one of them.  However, I often feel that I am resisting it in my every day life. 

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