Thursday, December 17, 2009

Plant City - Community - and Epistemology

I've been having a lot of fun with some new work I'm doing for FOCUS Magazine, a community monthly out of Plant City. It's a good venue for my "Op-Ed" column, and they've also asked me to write a regular feature. Thus far I'm monthly on the column and every-other month with the feature.

This month's edition - published a couple of days ago - includes a story I prepared on the new "Heart of Plant City Mural", painted on the south side of the Whistle-stop cafe downtown. Click on the photograph above for a link to the magazine - and it's worth the trip to page 49 to see how they used my photograph of the people involved and what I wrote (then my commentary appears on page 100 if you're interested).

I enjoy the sense of community that characterizes Plant City. I visited with a friend at the Whistle-stop cafe a couple of weeks back, and the hour I scheduled simply wasn't enough. It's the kind of place where you hang out for a couple of hours, make a fresh pot of coffee, and then start over - an approach to life that we've all but lost just a few miles down the road in Brandon, absorbed into suburbia.

But life is life - reality is seldom Main street in Mayberry; so while it's nice to talk about Plant City, most of us live somewhere else and there's no point in wishing things were any different. There is a point, however, in re-ordering our lives to proactively include the level of community we know that we need.

That's why my Wednesday evening men's gathering is so critically important, and why we spent some time this week talking about how we can extend that blessing to more guys through the men's ministry at First Presbyterian Church. We all recognize the importance of deliberate community, but what are we doing to make it happen?

We had one of those conversations that I wish someone had recorded. We talked about epistemology - although we didn't label the discussion that way and I'm sure most of us still don't know that's exactly what we were doing!

"Epistemology" is that branch of philosophy that is concerned with the nature and the scope of knowledge. We had planned to discuss "A Collision of Worlds", chapter ten in "The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian". And we did. But, as we exchanged ideas and shared what God is up to in our lives, and as we considered our relationship to the "unseen" or spiritual realm, talking about everything from angels to eternity to how we can "know" the reality of God, I realized that we were talking about truth, verifiable knowledge, and how we know anything at all.

The interesting thing, for me, is that all of this was a very natural progression in conversation. Where we arrived, after just an hour of what is of course a lifetime of progressive thought, was the assurance that - yes - our faith does have concrete and authoritative things to say about most everything that is important in life. "Spiritual knowledge" is as real as what we call "scientific fact." Science is a critically important subset of all knowledge; but it is not the only truth that we can know with absolute certainty.

Thanks for listening to me think out loud - DEREK

No comments: