Thursday, September 2, 2010

God, Reese’s Pieces, and Malai Kofta

Revisiting similar experiences with a new perspective seemed to be the theme of the day. I sat in a very foreign place eating very foreign food. Naan, Vindaloo, Shahi Korma, Makhni, Malai Kofta, Kulfi, Gulab Jamun. I sat in a room with a friend who reminded me of something I was familiar yet uncomfortable with, a similar experience in ideology with a different application. Simplicity is beautiful for sure, yet overcomplicated, even within your own mind. Emotional experiences leave a lasting impression and finger print on our souls. I’m reading a book right now, Buyology, and in my most recent reading the author discusses how effective and ineffective certain advertising is. His example comes from E.T. The boy lures E.T. out of the woods behind his house with Reese’s Pieces candies. Soon after the movie this candy was everywhere and can even be found in theatres today. There were other brands advertised in this movie, but none quite as effective as Reese’s Pieces. Its effectiveness had much to do with the emotional connection it provided and how it made the product a part of the plot and experience in the movie. The product was in a very special moment in the movie thus our brains remember it the most, even though other products were advertised in the movie. Similar scenario with Coca-Cola and American Idol. Neither Ford or Cingular wireless had as close to a fraction of the success Coca-Cola had in its advertising because the product is involved in an emotional plot, an experience we, as viewers, remember, the judges giving feedback, with the brand sitting on their desks. I’m discovering brain science has a lot to do with our souls, which gives me renewed hope and encouragement.

Yes, my new fascination with brain science is heavily influenced by my culture, but is validating the fascination I once and somewhat still do with my faith and the church. My brother and I talked until around 2am two days before my wedding. He was telling me how it has been interesting to watch how much I’ve changed since moving to Indianapolis. His one area of concern was to not let my new fascination crowd out my old fascination. He said that he thinks it is very interesting that I’m into reading about the brain and such, but lamented that he worried I would allow that to overshadow my interest in my faith. I think his unease was well intended and timely for me to hear. Since returning to reality from my time off for the wedding and honeymoon I’ve been reflecting on my faith, reading more about brain science, and trying to allow my mind to process it all.

I hate Indian food. I tried it once when I first moved here and thought it was detestable. It all looks gross and the textures aren’t too pleasing. The only thing I like is the bread. I like Indian food. It was very flavorful and interesting. The only thing close to mediocre is the bread. It’s funny how things change. The latter was said in 2010, four years after the preceding unenthusiastic rant. It was a very similar experience; even the restaurant was the same as I tried previously, just in a different location. I was meeting friends that I knew through my church in both settings. I discussed faith in both settings. The experiences were very similar yet converse in their applicable comprehensions.

“Remember, same thing Adam, just a different experience this time, for a different reason.” These words inspired my mind to organize and my hands to write again. A friend says it as I leave after we have lunch together. I’ve wrestled with my faith since I had it. Early in my faith I was zealous, all about doing, doing things for the church, acts of faith, works, and very much sold that the organized church as I experienced and was involved in was the entire point of it all. I worked tirelessly to do ministry, study the bible, and explore my faith. 4, almost 5, years later I find myself in a very different world, even though my experiences are similar. Now I sit in an Indian restaurant, enjoying the food, discussing how I dislike the church as I’ve experienced and how I don’t just want to study the bible, do ministry, and how I am not sold on the church as I experienced being the point at all, even going so far as to consider its necessity.

Over lunch my friend and I discussed the simplicity of what following Jesus and having faith means. Maybe some will disagree, and that is ok, but we basically came up with living a good life by trying to live by what doing all that stuff exposes. The stuff (church, ministry, the bible, praying) is not the point, it is the application of what they reveal that matters. So I don’t worship the bible or read it only to fill my head with knowledge anymore. I don’t want to read it for those reasons. As I ate a food I once despised with a friend from the church community I call home, we agreed that I needed to find balance in doing the things I dislike because of my experiences so much, but not doing them for the reasons I once did. No longer is it ok for me to just criticize and point out what is not, my growth now looks more like living my life while reading, praying, giving back, being a husband, etc.

My struggle often comes from feeling like I’ve abandoned who I am, but more appropriately, who I used to be. My most emotional experiences in my faith thus far have been when I was involved in doing instead of being. So when I am focused more on being than doing my mind reminds me of my doing stage because that is what emotionally stained my mind. It makes perfect sense. If it works in advertising I propose it easily translates into faith struggles. My emotional experiences seem to stick out most in my mind and seem most normal to me. When I stray from these experiences I feel some kind of guilt that I am walking away from the right and entering the wrong. Rather than seeing it that way though my friend over lunch and other meetings is helping me shed new light on where I stand in regards to faith again. As I digested what he said to me as I walked away from his office I smiled and was greatly encouraged. I was encouraged that my place of peace, one where I find contentment in my faith and journey, is not too far way. My similar experience of being involved in faith, church, the bible, and such looks a little different now, for different reasons. I can live with that, I can say I have peace with it.

I suppose the simplest of questions is, “What is the point of it all, life, religion, and church?” I think everyone has different answers at dissimilar times and in diverse places. I would encourage you to find out your reason and be at peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment