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June 5, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

I grew up in a world full of people who knew things. They did not merely believe this or that, they knew it. They were certain. Four food groups, grammar, God; everything was known. Any hint of uncertainty was quickly attacked with quick remedies or “concerns” about faith or intelligence. People who were uncertain were weak.

I have a problem with certainty. At best it is like what I did in high school math – look in the back of the book for the answers and then turn in the homework. I was certain my answers were right. Heck, if the book is wrong I have that as an excuse, right? In math, the answer is important, but it is not the point. You can’t build a bridge with answers. You need to know process. You need to wrestle with the problem in order to know it. Frankly, I learned a lot of answers I never understood. Apply this to faith and it gets real scary, real fast. In short, you cannot deeply understand an answer without experiencing the problem. Yet a rush to certainty encourages that very thing.

Certainty in relationships is a dangerous thing. If you were to ask me, “Hey Chris, do you know who your wife is?” I could confidently answer, with certainty, that I do know who she is. That’s fine, but I’d better not quit there. At the very same time, I could answer honestly that I have much to learn about my wife, and that I do not know who she is, not fully. Here is the danger: If I come to believe I know everything about her, then I have effectively quit learning about her because why the heck would I waste my time learning something I already know? She would become like a stock character in a second rate film. Predictable, simplistic, merely functional. No, there is more depth, more heart, more meaning in her – in anyone.

Certainty kills the necessary mystery that makes relationships dynamic and meaningful.



1. DJG - June 6, 2005

I certainly like this post! Maybe my gift of being able to see both sides of a situation is a good thing. The only thing I “know” for certain, is that I don’t really “know” anything!

Thanks Chris!

2. Keith Brenton - June 6, 2005

I wonder if Job became wiser because of what he experienced. *shudder*

I wonder if Solomon was wise, at least in part, because of the misery he had seen in his father’s family.

But, hey, what do I know?

3. Neal W. - June 6, 2005

Certainty is almost the antithesis of relationship…unfortunately many people are more comfortable with an illusion of certainty than with the vibrancy of a real relationship. Good post. Now bring on all the anti-postmoderns to whom this sounds like heresy…

4. Jeffrey - June 7, 2005

Great analogy w/ the math thing. Truly, like math, our relationship w/ God is incredibly a priori.

5. john alan turner - June 7, 2005

I find it interesting and revealing that we would never treat “normal” relationships as binary, but we often treat faith as if it is. For example, if you asked me about my relationship with my wife, I would never say, “It is on/off.” We understand a human relationship as a spectrum, but we have a difficult time seeing faith as relationship.

6. TCS - June 7, 2005

C of C might mean Church of Certainty. I know that certainty was primary in my youth. It is at the heart of the scientific method.

Back in architecture school, that’s when Postmodernism was in in architecture. We spent alot of time talking about a priori and a posteriori knowledge. I think Jeffrey may mean that our relationship is a posteriori.

At least all my other meaningful relationships are a posteriori (that is they are formed from experience).

7. Jeffrey - June 7, 2005

I see your point tcs…but I was simply approaching the concept from a different point of view.

I had in mind (at the moment) more on the abstract/intangible of the a priori vs the necessarily empirical nature. And as I thought of a posteriori, I thought of that “experience” being more of a scientific testing to aquire a result.

Yes, I do feel that all relationships are experiential (how else could they be?), but not from the scientific point of view. Oh well–misunderstanding I guess. Sorry, that analogy (and semantics) do seem to be horribly irrelevant and misplaced…

Forgiveness? lol

8. Fajita - June 7, 2005

How come everyone who reads my blog is smarter than I am?

9. TCS - June 7, 2005

I only know those words by being forced to read John Dewey. Man I felt lost. But when we discussed it, it was so obvious. A bunch of Modern minded professors trying to tell a group of postmodern students that architecture should be experiential…well duh.

10. Fajita - June 7, 2005

Church of Certainty. LOL. That’s a good one.

11. Jeffrey - June 8, 2005

I only know those words cuz someone used them in a conversation about the Republic in a Philosophy class a few years ago and I was like…what the crap? So I had to go look it up! lol…no worries.

TCS–Thanks for the graciousness (is that a word–see I am dumb, lol) of your comment(s)…you rock

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