Conversation Convocation

Dr. Chatman, Prof. Woodard, Danielle Tietjen, and Abdul Wright discussed the importance of connections in relation to communication. Dr. Chatman emphasized the vitality of creating connections with others and growing in those relationships. Professor Woodard broached the topic of conversation. He pointed out that conversation without technology being present as a barrier is important. Conversation with other people and with ourselves is able to flow freely without the distraction of a technological device. It helps us to discover ourselves and build relationships with fellow people. Danielle Tietjen stressed that to grow, people need to be open to experiencing new cultures and expanding their worldview. She also pointed out that the risk of doing this is leaving a comfort zone and losing things that hold people back from seeing other people. Abdul Wright highlighted the fact that everyone comes from a different background and that those differences can help people make an impact in the world.

 

All of the speakers elaborated on different reasons and ways that conversation and empathizing with others is important. When applied to the ways of knowing, this could fall under the emotional track of knowledge. Being able to connect to other human beings on a deep level can allow people to learn more about themselves and how others view the world. This connection is formed through face-to-face conversation and being outside of the comfort zone of communicating through technology. Being able to express how a person feels and why they feel that way is an integral part of conversation. Conversation forces people to not filter, spell check, or edit what they are wanting to talk about. This raw communication can lead to the other person feeling empathetic towards the other one and that leads to a better understanding of the world and other cultures.

 

I found the convocation to be very interesting. It was a good reminder to put down the phones and just allow connections with others to grow through talking. I often find myself absentmindedly checking my phone mid-conversation with people and then getting distracted from the moment. Phones are also a comfort zone for most people, myself included. Being challenged to put away the phone is a good thing because some of the most meaningful discussions take place in a phone free zone.

Paradox Lost Book Review

 

Introduction

Paradox Lost, by Richard P. Hansen, pushes its readers to expand on their knowledge of the paradoxes of the Christian faith. Hansen argues that these paradoxes can strengthen faith rather than contradict it. He shows how these mysteries can lead to a comfort in knowing that God is an awesome God and will never be fully comprehended by humans, and how that is good.

Framing

Paradox Lost, published May 3, 2016, explores the ways paradox can point to an omnipotent, omniscient God, the never ending mystery and exploration of the Christian faith, and the comfort of knowing that “there is a God and I am not He”(17). Richard P. Hansen has proved himself to be a credible author through his years of being a pastor and a missionary professor in a college in Ethiopia. Hansen uses this experience within his book through comparisons of Christians in Ethiopia versus Christians in the United States. Not only has Hansen proved himself, but the publisher of Paradox Lost is Zondervan, a well known Evangelical company. Zondervan also publishes other Christian resources, such as Bibles, devotional books, and video Bible studies. The currency, the author, and the publisher all point to this book being a good source to start exploring the paradoxes of the Christian faith.

 

Content and Methodology

Paradox Lost offers three categories of paradoxes: Serious Playfulness, The Tuning Fork, and Two Handles. Each is unique in its own way, however the book has different overarching themes the paradoxes shed light on. The first is an omniscient, omnipotent God. Many of the paradoxes and mysteries of the Christian faith will never be resolved by humans, but God perfectly understands everything. Humans will never be able to fully comprehend the fact that Jesus was fully God and fully man. As Hansen writes about on page 34, it is possible that there are realms within the Christian faith. God has revealed what people need to know about salvation, but there could be another realm that humans are not aware of(34-35). In the paradox of the kingdom of God, Hansen states, “Now Jesus is leading a counterattack, recapturing the territory Satan has held”(101). This points to an omnipotent God that can withstand far more than any human ever could.

 

The next topic is the comfort Christians can have knowing that they are not God. “Our very inability to get our arms around it releases us from our need to control it”(16). This may not be comforting to non-Christians, however the feeling of putting full trust into an all-powerful God frees Christians from having to worry about anything and everything. This quote from Saint Augustine sums it up, “If you can comprehend it, it is not God”(138).

 

Another overarching theme Hansen writes about is the mystery of God and how paradox can clear certain points of the mystery, while still revealing how little is truly known. Hansen compares mystery to fog, “…our headlights show us some things clearly, but also make us aware of how much exists in the haze”(26). Paradoxes can be our headlights into the fog of God’s mystery, however we become evermore aware of how little we know. “In Jesus we especially meet the nature of mystery, knowing how much we don’t know”(143). This ignorance is what is called “conscious ignorance”(28). It’s a part of the Christian faith that as we gain knowledge, we gain an awareness of how awesome and incomprehensible God is.

 

Analysis

 

All of the paradoxes used in Paradox Lost have a way of strengthening Christians’ faiths. The Kingdom of God is itself, a paradox. It is present, yet also still arriving. I believe the citations and reasoning Hansen uses (God’s battle against Satan for creation) emphasizes the fact that God is all powerful(101). The spiritual battles between God and Satan and angels and demons surpass any earthly wars. The fact that these are fights between the most powerful beings in the universe, makes them far beyond anything I can comprehend. Just as I cannot comprehend the battles that Jesus fights, I cannot comprehend the many mysteries surrounding God. Hansen brings to light the fact that there could be various realms that God exists on and that God does not have to follow the principles or logic of humanity(34-35). God gives us what we need to know for salvation, however once we dig more into the scriptures, there are things no human will ever understand. Some topics will forever be out of our incomplete human understanding, but God knows all things.  And while many people will never understand the comfort that this brings Christians, it is important to know that “there is a God and I am not He”(17).

 

This conscious ignorance is a large part of the Christian faith. If humans were to be all knowing, wouldn’t that set us almost on the same level as God? This does NOT mean that we should not strive to gain knowledge, however much of faith is based on trust. Trusting that God is three-in-one. Trusting that God is just and simultaneously loving. Trusting that God has blessed us with what we need to know for salvation. Once again though, we should never stop striving to know all that we can. God has blessed us with a curiosity. “The Scripture’s gospel is shallow enough for babes to wade in and never drown and yet deep enough for scholars to swim in and never touch bottom”(35). These mysteries in the deep of the gospel should be explored. And although “mystery” can hold a foreboding definition, the mystery of God is good and is filled with light(29).

 

These mysteries of God are one of the main overarching themes in this book. Paradox can be used to present a new way of looking at a mystery, or can present a new mystery to explore. The humanity and divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and even the paradox of Scripture all point to the various mysteries of God. These mysteries should never be ignored nor forgotten. Just as the people of the Old Testament, when we categorize God and believe we have Him figured out, we can become overconfident in ourselves(166). This is a precarious situation we can find ourselves in and can lead to less exploration. Our overconfidence in our knowledge can lead to less exploring of Scripture and can lead to us trusting in ourselves rather than God. God uses the paradoxes of the Christian faith to keep believers exploring our faith. Paradoxes push Christians to expand our  knowledge and conscious ignorance of faith.

 

Conclusion

Paradox Lost brings new insights to exploring the mysteries of God. Hansen’s examples of various paradoxes bring new frames to look at the mysteries through. And while none of the mysteries of God will ever be fully resolved, Christians can be comforted in the fact that God knows all, is all powerful, and cares for each person individually.