Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Fan Death
A First Lines article, by Griff Martin
April 4, 2017

For many in South Korea, an urban legend still holds true. The legend is known as “fan death.” In this legend, if a person goes to sleep with a ceiling or other electric fan on, then the fan will create a vortex wherein oxygen will be sucked out of the room and the person sleeping will die. Thus, Korean fans come with sleep timers so the fan shuts off once they fall asleep. It is reasoned that you might wake up hot, but at least you wake up. This legend was started by the Korean government, which listed fan death as one of the top causes of death in 2006. Why did the Korean Government manufacture the myth? People were using too much electricity and this would make them cut back. It worked. It’s an absurd belief, even propaganda. Nonetheless, for the most part Koreans believe it, because someone in authority told them it was a fact.

I think we often do the same thing in church. Someone in authority struggles with the beautiful mystery of faith, and finds a cheap explanation that somehow becomes fact. I think a lot about this around Easter when we talk about the Cross and Resurrection, which involves talking about atonement – and if we are honest, often our ideas don’t really add up. They either make God look angry, mean and petty, involve a transaction which makes God very much unfair, or they rob Jesus of his humanity.

This is one of those issues with which I have truly wrestled throughout my life. So this season, I want to bring a few questions to mind as we embark on the journey to the cross and tomb.
First, what exactly do we believe? Many of our ideas about God, the church, faith, Jesus, and even humanity go back to our childhood, when we had our first inkling of these vast ideas. It might have been our parents, pastors, Sunday School teachers, whomever, but they greatly influenced our beliefs. As adults, we need to take time to evaluate these beliefs – to think about them and ask ourselves the difficult questions: Does this make sense? Does it fit with how I understand Jesus? Does it fit with how I view Scripture? Does this fit with the theology that God is love, and in love there is no fear?
Second, what are we teaching those we reach? It might be our kids, co-workers, small groups, at times our spouses, or anyone with whom we have contact. Are we teaching them true beliefs, or are we giving the easy answers? When it comes to the hard questions (the ones where we have to admit to ourselves honestly that we have no answers), are we giving an answer that, with the slightest intellectual pressure, will fall apart? It’s easier to give a pat answer, but it’s more like Jesus to admit to yourself that you don’t understand or that you have no answer.
Third, are we trying to explain, or experience the Easter event?  One of my favorite church signs is outside the Church of All Nations, and it simply reads: “Please no explanations in the church.” This is not to say that the faith journey shouldn’t be one of the head – it’s just that the head should follow the heart.
As we approach this Easter season, it is my prayer that we can have a better and fuller understanding of this event. This might very well mean letting go of some poorly held and antiquated beliefs in order that we might more fully experience this event; this central event of our faith which is at it’s core, the beautiful mystery.

Grace and peace.
I love you all.



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