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Monday, February 07, 2011

The Legitimacy Of Lists


Lists are helpful and useful in practically every area of life. Civil law is built around the concept of a list both of prohibitions and requirements. Practically every organization of people have a handbook of some type which is at its foundation a list of things that are expected and things that are forbidden. Recipes are built around lists (both a list of ingredients and instructions) Chemical processes are built around lists. The reality is that we all live by lists, some written down some we just carry around in our head.

I have a list when it comes to pre-tripping the school bus. I have a mental list when I mow the yard. There are things I believe are right and things I believe are wrong. I suppose if someone asked me to make a list of things I believe are right I could do so.  If someone asked me to make a list of things I believe are wrong I could do so.  Whether such a list is written on paper, engraved in stone or just carried around in my head there is a sense in which it is a list.  I am thinking that most people have such lists.  God gave many lists the most famous of which is the Ten Commandments.

Churches have lists. If you have a doctrinal statement you have a list. If you have bi-laws you have a list. If you have an order of service you have a list (whether written or unwritten).

I understand that lists can be abused and misused and at times are by all of us.  But everyone has them.  Lists are often called into question when they cover areas of behaviour, for example what is considered appropriate attire for a Christian.  But even here I would be a little surprised to find someone who had no list.  Is it morally OK to go without any clothes?  If not then you have a list.  Our lists may begin and end at different places.  If we were to write them down they may be different lengths, but it is a list.  I am perfectly content with the proposition that we will all give account for our own lists (convictions) in every area.  We will give account for what we believe and for how we behave.

Really what we are talking about is convictions.  What we believe about different things.  If we can change the terminology from convictions to a list then the whole concept of holding convictions is trivialized.  Of course the hypocrisy is that I have convictions and others have lists.

It is at times suggested that those who have lists have a tendency to be graceless.  If this is so then we all have a tendency at times to be graceless, and this is in fact probably much closer to the truth.

Those who say you shouldn’t have a list have started one!  And, in many cases the lists of others are judged by their list composed of, “Thou shalt not have a list”.  Often times their lists can become quite extensive in listing all the areas where you should not maintain a list!  Of course making a list of areas where you should not make a list is perfectly acceptable????  It is the spiritual equivalent of the philosophy that there are no absolutes.  But to make such a statement one has just established an absolute.  It is not whether absolutes exists but who establishes them.  Just so it is not whether we have lists but how we determine what is on them.

I'll finish this later.  I need to get to the next thing on my list.  ;-)
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