Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Analogy of the Rowboat

Picture yourself relaxed and reclined in an unassuming rowboat, just offshore, on a secluded and placid lake. The lake with its pristine magnificence, promises tranquility for as far as the eye can see. Then, it seems almost unconsciously, you are transported into another world. You are transported into another world because you are in your rowboat and because you are in your favorite novel. What is time and space when one is afloat in a boat and absorbed in a book?

But then your reverie is ruined as reality breaks in upon unreality in the form of a distant clap of thunder. There is a storm on the horizon. The world, the real world, has changed. The placid lake promising tranquility has broken her promise. The real world has changed and you have changed. You have changed because you are no longer “just offshore”, but you are presently far removed and distant from land.

Unbeknownst to you, you were two hours into a book and now you are two hours into a lake. This is at once both startling and confusing. The world looks different from here than it did from there. Yes, the world has changed and you have changed, but as your mind clears and adjusts, it is abundantly clear that something has remained unchanged: the shore. The shore is precisely where and as it was. The shore is precisely where and as it was because the shore is anchored. The shore is anchored and you are not.

There is a coming storm and its furious approach will not delay. You are afloat in a boat but you are no longer absorbed in a book, and now time and space take on a renewed significance. You have a window of opportunity. What must you do? Pray and hope that the storm dissipates or pray and row for the shore? One is the way of uncertainty, the other is the way of certainty. One is the way of pretense and madness, the other is the way of courage and wisdom. Which is the way for you?

I wanted you to picture this scenario in your mind because this picture captures, metaphorically, the scenario, the real scenario, in which the United States finds herself. How did the United States get from where she was to where she is? The journey from where the United States was to where she is, is not merely a journey of progress, but we must say that it has been a journey of certain progress marred with tragic regress.

It is said, and generally agreed to, that the United States is a post Christian nation. How did the United States become a post Christian nation? When did the change take place? We would say that the transition from Christianity to post Christianity did not take place punctually, or at a specific or appointed time; but rather, the transition from Christianity to post Christianity has transpired incrementally, gradually and over time.

Like our make-believe rowboat that slowly and steadily, and imperceptibly, floated away from the shore; the United States has slowly and steadily, and imperceptibly, drifted away from her Christian heritage. This is incrementalism. While we as Americans have been absorbed in the unreality of postmodern philosophy, we as a nation have incrementally drifted away from that which offers security in the face of the storm.

In our allegory of the rowboat, the shore is absolute Truth. The shore is absolute Truth anchored in the Christian theistic worldview. The shore is absolute Truth anchored in the understanding of God and His world. The world has changed and we have changed but the shore remains unchanged. What will we as Americans do?

Will we take the way of uncertainty or certainty? Will we take the way of pretense and madness or will we take the way of wisdom and courage? Shall we row towards the shore or shall we row away from the shore until we can no longer see the shore, and then pretend that the shore doesn’t exist and never did?

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Excerpted from my book, “God & His World,” p.p. 177-179.
 

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