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Thursday, May 1, 2014

On Poor Posture, Informed Conscience and a Misspent Life

I read an article the other day by a personal trainer who writes articles. He made the statement that he went to a training session about the impact of posture on exercise success. He went on to say that when the participants were evaluated almost every single one had one or more posture problems. He went on to explain how many "aches and pains" blamed on aging are actually the affects of many years of sitting and standing wrong. For some reason, this hit me hard. These are professional "physically fit" men and women, most of whom are paid for their expertise in building strong and healthy bodies, yet they did not do basic human movement correctly.

Which led me to the question, "If I can't even stand right, why do I trust myself to find God on my own?" After all, aren't we all inclined to think that we are perfectly able to do most things on our own? The individualism of our culture (and hyper focus on 'personal rights') is fueled by that belief. I think my confidence (granted not too great to start with) in humans took a major hit when I read that article.

Human are so flawed. I do not mean in some morally twisted way that we are all evil (though most of us are capable of great evil in the right circumstances). What I mean is we are fallible in simple ways that are amazing. Like we do not know how to breathe, sit or stand correctly, or pick up a laundry basket, or eat, or rest. We do not pick spouses well and when we do we do not make choices that are helpful for the marriage. We often make lousy employees and employers. Even our friends have several pet peeves about us. Once again, not saying it is total bedlam, just that we are not often good at things that are basic.

This raises the question: Is it possible that people who have poor posture (i.e., cannot correctly stand or sit without realizing it) are equally inept in making spiritual and ethical decisions? In other words, is it not likely that we are no less unaware of our "out of order" spiritual life or moral life? Not saying we are totally out of alignment with God or purely evil... just that, maybe, probably, we are more off center than we think. This includes spiritual/moral teachers and leaders (self accusation: me). We may work hard at prayer and Bible reading, but perhaps we begin with a couple faulty assumptions (call it misaligned spiritual posture) which means that everything else is also out of kilter. So our prayer is less about God and more about the wrong thing. Our moral choices, however "right" they feel, are in fact "wrong" and producing negative effects (for us and others). Once again, not human slave trading or some other heinous thing (although in the day reputable and well thought of persons engaged in slave trade, blinded by cultural assumptions and more than a little self seeking), but things which are important and do matter.

Someday it will be clear. Some day we will be horrified by the things that failed to horrify us. Some day we will be measured against the "Rule" (Who is Jesus) and see how badly misshapen we really are. Right now, because around here everyone has "bad posture," it is too hard to see how misshapen....

 Speaking with my friend "P.C." today about the idea of an informed conscience. She had just learned the critique of "conscience" from a Traditional standpoint. In a nut shell, each person's conscience is formed in a broken context. Each person has mental limitations and is prone to errors in thinking. What seems or feels "right/wrong" is therefore as much a product of the culture as it is any reasoned thinking on our part. You cannot "do what you feel is right" and assume it is right. You cannot follow your conscience and be secure. Sincerity is not enough. One needs an educated conscience. One needs to be shaped and formed in the Wisdom handed down to us. In other words, we must live under authority.

The fact is EVERYONE does this, we accept values which are 'thrust upon us' by our circumstances. It is hard to see and harder to critique our assumptions. Yet if we do not we may find one day, when held up to the truth of "how things should be" that like all those finely developed, physical specimens we discover that in fact, we do not even have good posture! What then to do? Seek the voice of the Truth in the ancient faith and submit to the Rule of Faith.

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