Earthy Spirituality: Debunking Knee-Jerk Naturalism ~ BitterSweetLife

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Earthy Spirituality: Debunking Knee-Jerk Naturalism

Flow Charts and Dreams in the Life of Daniel

Spirituality is practical

If the Bible's Daniel had lived today, he would be a city administrator or, conceivably, a software designer. Economics and JavaScript would come as easy as breathing. Possibly he would have been one of those people whose brilliance is annoying because it is so undeniable. Daniel would silence entire business meetings with a single sentence, make everyone nod their heads in vigorous agreement, while inwardly they were saying, “Why didn’t
I think of that?”

And then he would have these dreams…

My friend Scott and I are reading the book of Daniel for the second week in a row, and one thing in particular has struck me about the narrative. It’s a down-to-earth story of the supernatural—if you will, an event coordinator’s guide to the otherworld.

Daniel would have been a living, breathing rebuttal to arguments (like David Hume’s) that only the neurotic and uneducated ‘see’ the supernatural at work in this world. In terms of education, Daniel was at the top of the known world—the brightest man in the Babylonian empire. In terms of practicality, he was a guy without illusions, a modest skeptic, and not given to flights of fancy.

In other words, when angels appeared and delivered their monologues, Daniel asked (after his knees started working), “And what does that mean?” The angelic answers didn’t always satisfy his questions, and he didn’t act as if they did. But bewilderment aside, Daniel didn’t recoil from documenting his experiences. He was so straight-up, so deliberate and practical, that he didn’t gravitate toward the materialistic bias that claims so many of us.

He didn’t say, “Wait, I’m a totally sane person; this vision can’t be happening.” No knee-jerk naturalism for Daniel. When God spoke, Daniel picked up his pristine integrity and took it to the bank—he became a star witness, and apparently didn’t think about backing down.

Earthy spirituality. Forensic faith.

In an era when we write off the supernatural as fast as deductibles in April, I find Daniel’s life incredibly refreshing.

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Andrew Simone said...

And most of the time the visions terrified him.

iamnasra said...

its amazing those who have been gifted how earthy they are and those who have nothing seem to want to be noticed

Thanks for your comments

R. Sherman said...

I've always liked God's answer to Daniel at the end of the book when Daniel inquires as to the meaning of his visions. God essentially says, "Don't worry about it. I've got it covered."

It's an answer we humans tend not to want to accept. Acceptance of the answer, however, is what leads to true peace in one's soul.

Ariel said...

As you guys note, OC and Sherman, Daniel was terrified and mystified by some of his interactions with God. What fascinates me is that he communicates both of these sensations - and the narrative makes no attempt to 'apologize' for either.

If we follow Christ, we'll have to learn to accept the necessity of both mystery and fear. To use a quote from C.S. Lewis (which is probably overused): "Aslan is not a tame lion."


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife