“The newer generations living in the twenty-first century have never known what life is like without television or videocassette/CD/DVD recorders or TiVO. Because of technology, we can, at least in some sense, ‘create’ the reality we desire. It is now possible, for example, to program electronic screens with what we want to see when we want to see it. We can use pre-selected iPod tunes as the soundtrack for our lives. This has the double effect of, on the one hand, creating the feelings and ambience we desire, and on the other hand, letting the rest of the world go by.”
“We turn up the music and get lost in the melody and the words, hoping that the pain and negative feelings pass. Movies, concerts, and sporting events provide the opportunity to be caught up in the excitement of the crowd and carried along by our feelings for a little while. Enjoying music and attending sporting events certainly are not wrong. What is troublesome is when we expect these things to deliver the right feelings and thus to be a source of truth or authority.”
This is a fascinating section of Oliphint and Mays’ Things That Cannot Be Shaken: Holding Fast to Your Faith in A Relativistic World (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), p.18-19, 21. They talk about how our world is one where higher authority is first doubted then created by ourselves. Whatever 1) works because it feels good (empiricism) and 2) makes sense to me (rationalism) is what is true and authoritative.
While we’re busy sefishly building our own world of truth, authority, and meaning, the reality is passing us by. We fill our schedules, stomachs, and senses to distract us from the harder parts of life (love, belief, pain, and death). “But isn’t distraction just really a means of escape?” (p. 21). In the rest of the book, Oliphint and Mays cut through the distractions and attempts at escape by displaying what is lasting, true, and worth losing our lives and the whole world for: the solid, eternal, and joyful reality that Christ is on the throne. “Those ‘things which cannot be shaken’ which are ours here will also be ours for eternity there” (p. 152).
This book is a great read for Christians who may have “fallen asleep” on the pilgrimage or who are afraid they are losing their way (prone to wander!). It is also for those of us who just want help in lifting our weary heads and looking to Jesus in this whirlwind we call life.