Friday, February 17, 2012

Traffic lights and theology

Lately my daughter has become very interested in traffic lights, calling out the rules based on their color (Daddy it's red, stop!) but yellow always confuses her. "Daddy, it's yellow, stop." "Yellow can also mean speed up."
I can see the wheels turning in her mind while she is processing how it is that the yellow light can mean one thing and it's opposite at the same time, and it amuses me. But her work is instructive to me for what she doesn't do- she doesn't write a book about how the things are parallel lines that only meet in eternity, she doesn't declare it to be impossible to understand, she doesn't just quit. She thinks it out.
And I tell her that the rule is actually stop if you can, or hurry and get through the intersection, which means that when you are going fast or the road is wet you keep going as fast as you can, and if you are far from the light and you have breaking distance you come to a stop, even when it's yellow.
And maybe, just maybe, her thinking patterns are what we need a reminder of as adult theologians. The idea is not to compare and contrast two things we know to be true, the key thing to consider is how they can fit together.

2 comments:

THEOparadox said...

I love this illustration of Biblical paradox! So good. You deserve a t-shirt.

"The idea is not to compare and contrast two things we know to be true, the key thing to consider is how they can fit together.

Or at least the fact that all truths do fit together, even if we can't presently figure out how. Just as your daughter has to trust that YOU know when to go faster and when to stop. She has to accept that yellow means both stop and go; but at the same time she dare not push you out of the driver's seat and attempt to make that decision herself (although with time and consideration she may well learn to predict which choice you will make and even why).

My kids provide some of the best theological lessons, too. Perhaps it's God's way of teaching us "wise" people how foolish we are. :)

Phil said...

It's amazing how much they teach us isn't it?