What of Discipline?

In an earlier post I discussed what role cultural immersion has in our beliefs.  The basic idea was that if we immerse ourselves in any culture we will naturally start taking on the beliefs of those around us.  We become of that culture.  It has a role in forming us and our values.

And what of discipline?  I think when cultural immersion might only be getting you so far, discipline might get you the rest of the way.  Discipline is like a more intentional and overt way of teaching ourselves a behavior or a belief.  Where immersion kind of says, I will allow myself to be assimilated into the beliefs and values of the community, discipline is deciding to build yourself into something based on your own desire.  That desire however, could be coming from a value that really came from one of the cultures you are a part of.  So in a way discipline is the self-assimilation into a value or belief we ourselves have.

So how about this?  What if it is the case that if you invoke disciplinary rules for yourself, you are just leveraging this same mechanism as cultural immersion triggers but through a self-controlled lever?  That is to say, discipline is the set of actions we use to execute upon our personal decision to conform.  You decide on an end state, and you engage in the tasks that will get you there.  I’m sure some bristle when I use the word conform in this context, but I use the word conform in the sense that when it comes to discipline, you choose what you want to conform to.  In a paradoxical kind of way, you might even say that what you want to conform to is to be completely original.  So in this case you conform to non-conformity.  It’s kind of like groups of non-conformists – how can they exists as a group, right???  🙂

Is it hurting yet?

I guess I raise this because I recognize that the choice to be disciplined in anything, is like a choice to change yourself.  And so if you want to know what to believe and how to change yourself, what discipline would you exercise?  Perhaps you could decide to be disciplined in a study of those you wish to emulate?  After all, this is why Christians try and invest so much time in studying Jesus and his teachings.  To work at being Christ-like is to be Christian.  But what if you aren’t sure about Christianity?  In that case you should only choose to study Jesus if you decide of your own accord that he is someone worth emulating.  From a non-believer’s perspective you would have to choose that Jesus was worth emulating regardless of whether he was God or just a man.

Man, how do you decide that the life of a man that lived over 2000 years ago is worth emulating?  Just because there are many people who say he’s worth it?  That would be more of a cultural conformity.  Which I don’t mean to say is a bad thing.  I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  I just think this process for me these days is about making my own decision on all this.  So how do I decide this?  What information can even really be gathered in order to make this choice?

I go around and around and I come back in my mind to something I’ve always said about why people believe in God.  The decision to believe is a pretty individual thing.  Not that it isn’t informed by culture and discipline, but that the decision comes out of a personal encounter.  More to the point, it comes down to you deciding (consciously or not) that an experience you’ve had was something that was caused by an interaction with the spirit world.  It comes from a faith-based decision.

So maybe all I need is an encounter.  If and when this encounter occurs, maybe I can attribute it to God or maybe I won’t be convinced.  I can try and be open minded though.  Maybe that’s enough.  And maybe its not up to me to engineer anything at all, but rather it’s up to God to convince me.


 

Feeling like your coming in part way through the conversation?  There are earlier posts that share the “faith” tag with this post. Read them if you want to catch up.Click here to read the other posts with the “faith” tag.