Inspiration and Futility, Alternating Between the Poles

Part VII.

 

As an undergraduate I wrote my senior paper for my theology major on the topic of universal salvation, and then I doubled down on it and wrote my senior paper for my philosophy major on the same subject.

 

By the time I was done with that work, my research had uncovered some things for me.

 

The twentieth century had given the world many extremely intelligent, talented, philosophers and theologians who had been writing about this same topic. They were Oxford Dons, and University of Chicago Doctors, the alumni of one storied institution or another.

 

Their work inspired me. I wanted to lend my voice to theirs, carry on the good work, fight the good fight. However, the deeper I delved into the field, the more often I was faced with questions like this:

 

What is the point?

 

Why do I care?

 

If everyone is saved no matter what, why spend time and energy trying to convince people who do not believe it?

 

If in the end, it does not matter what a person believes, what church they belong to, why even bother with Christian Doctrine?

 

 

This is the voice of futility. It is my inner critic undermining me, attempting to convince me to give up, that the question that had inspired me was meaningless.

 

I learned that I was not the first person to be moved by this question, and not the first to resolve it. I learned that I would not be the last person to struggle with it.

 

Most importantly, I learned that there was very little that could be done to change the minds of the billions of Christians, Muslims, Jews and others who think and feel differently about our shared spiritual destiny. Most mono-theists, those who believe in some form of hell, they do not believe that God condemns people to hell because logic tells them so, they believe it because they want to believe it, because it makes them feel good.

 

I learned that logic, by itself, will not free them from those beliefs.

 

My education was doing two things, it was arming me with more evidence, more arguments, more history. It was preparing me with expanded powers to synthesize and communicate those ideas. At the same time, it was informing me that no matter how great my dialectical powers might become, I would have little power to persuade the hearts and minds of the unwilling.

 

As for the willing, well, they were already with me, and that is preaching to the choir.

 

This is the nexus where my inspiration and my sense of futility meet, where my genius and my inner critic were hanging out inside my head. What happens in this encounter is very important, not just for me, but for everyone.

 

If you want to be true to the movement of the spirit within you, you may be called to stay with it for a very long time. You must listen to yourself, to the stirring in your heart, the choir that is singing there, like the bubbling of a fountain.

 

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