Friday, March 18, 2005

The Outdated Roadmap

Maps, in all their various forms, are what we rely on to make sense out of a sometimes jumbled world. Not only do we utilize maps to help us navigate from Point A to Point B to Point C, but we use them as well to provide definition to the societal landscape. Consequently, possessing a map that is accurate should be very important to each of us.

Imagine for a moment that you have entered The Twilight Zone. You find yourself sitting in your vehicle parked in front of the State Capitol building in Salem -- but you don’t recognize what it is or where you are. In the backseat are boxes of marionberries.

You seem to be the ONLY person in town. Everywhere you look, there is no movement of any kind. You happen to glance at the passenger’s seat. You notice a list sitting on top of a map. You grab the list and read the following: 4 boxes – Lincoln (General Store); 3 boxes – Eola (Inn); and 12 boxes – Corvallis (Public Library).

None of these towns sound familiar to you, so you grab the map. A giant star indicates where you are now and there is a highlighted line showing your general route. However, try as you might, you can’t find these 3 towns anywhere near your route or, for that matter, in this state called Oregon…

As it happens, the character in this story is befuddled because he/she is looking at a map from 1850. In that year, the town known today as Lincoln was called Doaks Ferry. Eola today is an area, not a town, but in 1850 it was the thriving hamlet of Cincinnati. And, in its earliest days, the town that we now call Corvallis was known as Marysville.

As time marches forward, things change. Rivers alter their course and cut new channels. Natural and manmade disasters modify the landscape. Towns and industries thrive, only to disappear. What was once farmland located miles outside of town is soon swallowed up by the growing metropolis.

If your map doesn’t stay current with the inherent changes of civilization, you will have a difficult time navigating from place to place. But what’s even worse is the person who is shown that their map is inaccurate and yet they cling to it like the Holy Grail.

For me, this is an apt description of almost every religion. The map of their belief system was etched in stone hundreds or thousands of years ago. Each may well have described and explained in perfect form the landscape of their day. But we no longer live in THAT time and yet millions of people cling to these inaccurate directions.

Like a person trying to find Corvallis on a map that only shows Maryville, so many of these people are lost in the world and can’t figure out why.

It’s simple. Their map is woefully outdated.

Hey, to check out another perspective on this general theme, I recommend you visit Brian Hines' blog, Church of the Churchless, and his post Why Don't Religions Evolve?

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