What forms our viewpoints?

In the 1950s, Charles Schulz created his enduring “Peanuts” comic strip with its memorable little entourage of characters. Schulz winsomely portrayed societal issues, a regular theme being the lack of kindness sometimes evidenced among children.

Murray Smith

It seems Schulz’s strategy was making points adults might embrace, provoking them to be better people. The central character, Charlie Brown, is often the butt of jokes. His dog Snoopy, a beagle hound is a mixture of kindness and indifference – he often appears wiser than the kids he hangs with.

Other characters include Sally, Charlie Brown’s little sister; the feisty Lucy and her younger brother Linus who drags his security blanket wherever he goes; and Schroeder, with his toy piano, playing Beethoven.

A particular cartoon I love has Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus gazing up at clouds from a hillside. Charlie Brown is silent while Linus pontificates on things he ‘sees’ in cloud formations…“that one looks like a map of the British Honduras in the Caribbean”… another one, “is like the profile of Thomas Eakin the famous painter and sculptor…” Finally, he has an “impression of the stoning of Stephen,” claiming, “I can see the Apostle Paul standing to one side…”

Lucy asks Charlie Brown what HE sees. His response makes me smile, “Well- I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsey… but I changed my mind.”

A hallmark of individuality is that we all see things from different perspectives. That’s both potentially enriching, yet potentially conflicting too. I took my wife to an art gallery (once) where huge, expensive abstract artworks were exhibited. I could appreciate some work’s merits while her response was totally dismissive -she saw them as ridiculous, worthless aberrations a toddler could produce. She was unrestrained in voicing her opinion- we haven’t done art galleries together since.

Everyone is wired differently and our ‘take’ on nearly everything is on the basis of ‘subjectivity.’ Subjectivity is our perceptions, formed by life experiences which condition our points of view, personal tastes, opinions and feelings. ‘Objectivity’ is based on absolutes- it relies on knowledge of standing, solidly established facts, irrespective of subjective personal opinions and feelings.

Interestingly, our comprehension of God involves both subjective and objective elements. He has objectively declared truth about His nature -He’s holy, just, full of kindness, mercy and love for all humanity. True followers of Jesus unashamedly express (subjective) feelings of love, gratitude and worship for Him. Others totally reject God’s goodness, even challenge His existence, freely using His name as a curse word – regaling Him for everything bad, like calling natural disasters ‘acts of God.’

I was speaking on the street with a young Hare Krishna man, explaining God’s love and goodness. I hoped he’d ‘grasp’ his immense value to God and cease trying to appease a false ‘god’ with endless striving. His shocking retort came from experiencing deep pain, rejection and hurt, “Why would God love this bag of pus and urine ..!?”  Such a gross and sadly distorted perception.

To believe and receive the wonderful absolute TRUTH about God, we not only ‘taste and see that the Lord is good,’ we discover our true worth and purpose…


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