Aug 10, 2013

Reality

Definition of Reality
n. pl. re·al·i·ties
1. The quality or state of being actual or true.
2. One, such as a person, an entity, or an event, that is actual: "the weight of history and political realities"(Benno C. Schmidt, Jr.)
3. The totality of all things possessing actuality, existence, or essence.
4. That which exists objectively and in fact: Your observations do not seem to be about reality.

The subject of reality has been coming up quite a bit lately. It seems that it is a common longing that folk have; to be more real, to have friends that are real and to know what is real. Reality TV initially tapped into this longing but quickly became anything but real as the very nature of the medium squashed the possibility.  We know that we want reality but we do not always know what reality is. How do we know that someone or thing is authentic? We often sense it but we are not immune from being duped and sadly in life we often are. We trust someone to be who they present themselves to be but find that we were mistaken. The problem is that we ourselves struggle to be real, to even know who we really are. We can be caught up being who we think we should be, forgetting who we are, just as capable of fooling ourselves as well as others.

I have been thinking that it is hard to separate the idea of truth and reality, and maybe this is how we have been sliding down this slippery slope. As the notion of Truth with a capital T has been lost (vs. just my truth or your truth), we are also be losing the notion of Reality (not just my reality or your reality). Reality and Truth have to be rooted together as stable anchors that do not shift and thus can give substance to the things which are anchored to them. Reality needs to be solid, foundational, unchanging, a reliable reference point just as Truth should be as well. These realities can be hard to find these days but I do believe that they do exist and can be recovered,  but they need to be rooted in something much bigger than us people, or even society. We need to look out and back and up and beyond. I think that the place that Truth starts is with an Infinite God that has to be really there and does not deceive and has made himself known to us in our finite state. Where do you find a place for reality? Personally it truly bothers me when I find Christians being fake, superficial and unreal, it is the opposite of who God is, it dishonors Him and denies the reality that he has called us to live in. I want to be real all the way to the core, even when the reality of life is not all that nice and I know that I am not all that nice.  I need to try to truly change for the better, but should not pretend to be better if I haven't changed. Our goodness and beauty should be real and not veneer and thanks to God's help they can be. But in this life I will never be perfect, I will always be less than I should be, I need to constantly try to do bettter, but I need to be honest about my failures as this is the begining of change. Unreality is a bottomless pit of falsehood and lies.

Unreality is not just the same thing as fiction or imagination, these can be wonderful pointers to truth and can illustrate reality. Creativity is part of how God made us and even Jesus used parables too. I am talking about deception, faking and unhelpful escapism that denies reality. Reality is infinitely rich and varied, we each see and experience it differently and can share with eachother to get a fuller and more rounded understanding. I was just listening to Beethoven and was struck by how his music helps me to know a richer reality with his brilliance and he communicates things I couldn't know for myself, but when I hear his music I can say oh yes, I get it, that is so real. It is like we are looking from different perspectives but the whole is the same and we are sharing the same space. Are we seeing what is there or are we deceiving ourselves about what we think is there? I think that is the question.
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