People do love their illusions

“For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14).

God is under no illusion about us. He knows we are made of humble stuff.  He knew He was getting no bargain when He saved us. When we sin, the only one surprised is us.

Whether we are under false conceptions, i.e., illusions, about God is another question.

One thing is sure. We sure do love our illusions, our pipe dreams, our false ideas and wrong impressions.

No one should see how sausage or their laws are made.  The internet traces that quote to Otto von Bismarck, German chancellor of the late 1800s, who is supposed to have said it more like “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

Leave us with our illusions.

I grew up on Southern Gospel music and my family frequently attended their concerts.  In adulthood seeing some of the groups up close and off stage, the profanity and carnal lifestyles forever ruined me.  In time, I was able to enjoy some of their music, but without attending a concert or becoming a groupie.  I had lost my illusion about these people.

Lovers of the old Andy Griffith Show are sometimes saddened to learn, after a little research, that their beloved Aunt Bee, played by actress Frances Bavier, was just that, playing a role.  In a score of books on that show, cast members have said that Miss Bavier was often demanding, high maintenance, and hard to get along with.  Not at all the sweet loveable Aunt Bea character she played in the show. And yet, we love the show and cherish the image–the illusion, if you will–she left us.

Trekkies are fans of the Star Trek series of televisions shows and movies.  They flock to conventions and pay big money to see the stars, read their memoirs, and purchase the mementoes.  Many of them can spout the philosophies of Spock’s character and know the nationalities of all kinds of forces that have shown up in the show.

One thing is sure and I can vouch for this:  People who write these shows think the Trekkies are nuts.  Sure, they’ll take their money and play the game. But as they board the plane and return home, they’re shaking their collective heads at the ridiculous way these people fill their lives with such foolishness.  “They should get a life,” they’re thinking.

That, incidentally, is what Coach Bob Devaney once said of fans of his Nebraska Cornhuskers team who took their devotion to absurd heights.  Asked what he thought about the fan who bought a casket with the university’s logo emblazoned in red across the top and left instructions about doing his funeral in a similar fashion, the coach said, “I think he should should get a life.”

Five years back, I met the grandmother of the young man who had just married my oldest granddaughter.  Daisy hails from Mansfield, Missouri.  I said, “Laura Ingalls Wilder’s hometown.”  “Yes,” she smiled, and added, “I knew her.”

“You knew her?”  That was unexpected.

This author of a still-popular series of children’s books lived from 1867 to 1957.  Her writings supported her family through the Depression and in more recent decades, a well-loved television series was based loosely on her books. A controversy continues to this day over how much Mrs. Wilder’s daughter Rose participated in the writings of the “Little House on the Prairie” books.  Nevertheless….

“She was a crabby little old lady,” said Mrs. Daisy.  I laughed.  “Really?”

I love gossip of this kind. That is to say, it’s historical (and history is my subject) and since the subject is no longer living, our idle chatter is not going to do her any harm. No one is hurt by our conversation and so we are free to range far and wide.

“I worked in a bakery shop,” said Daisy, “and she would come in.  None of us wanted to wait on her, and would run to the back when we spotted her coming.”

“She wore a hat and gloves year round, even in the heat of summer.”

She mentioned that Mrs. Wilder had written some subsequent stuff about her daughter’s mistreatment when they first moved to Mansfield, something about how the school children rejected her and were snooty because she was not dressed as well as they.  Daisy said, “The truth was the opposite.  They were the snooty ones, too good for the townspeople.”

I laughed. To me this was a harmless little jest of no consequence.  I have never read the “Little House” books and have no intention of doing so. I repeat the conversation here just to make a point.

It’s perfectly fine with me if Mrs. Wilder’s daughter Rose helped her write the books and if she herself turns out to have been crabby or snooty or to have embellished her stories.  They were novels, for goodness’ sake, and not autobiographies. She wasn’t writing scripture.

When I posted a note on Facebook about how the elderly Laura Ingalls Wilder was said to be “a crabby old lady,” a FB friend rebuked me.  I should not be destroying people’s illusions, she said.

People do love their illusions, don’t they?

I’m going to end with a little story which speaks to the absurdity of people cherishing their illusions, no matter how flimsy

Leonard Mlodinow was a writer for the original Star Trek series.  Once at a cocktail party, he came upon a man and woman who were handsome, articulate, and doubtless well-educated.  In the midst of a conversation about their love for that show, one was quoting a lengthy passage of Vulcan philosophy to the other who was loving it.  As Mlodinow listened, something occurred to him

I wrote that stuff.

“I wrote so much of it,” he later said, “that I tended to forget it.  And yet here these people were believing it, quoting it as gospel.”

He was stunned and walked away shaking his head.

You find yourself amazed sometimes at the foolish things people believe.  I just finished reading Leah Remini’s autobiography Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology.  It may have been the most depressing thing I’ve read since…well, since  Educated by Tara Westover, about growing up in a dysfunctional Mormon sect.  Ever since, I have prayed for Tara and Leah to do one thing: to open the Gospels and see the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I do not pray for them to become Baptists–smile please–but it will be sufficient, for the time being at least, for them to discover Jesus. He alone never disappoints.

There is Truth and His name is Jesus.

Let no one make the shallow assertion that since some religious views and teachings are nuts and are founded on the wild speculations of their founders, that every religious faith is equally false.  That would be like saying since medical quacks abound, all medicine is fake.

There is a true Way. There is a solid Faith.  There is One who commands our respect and deserves our trust.

His name is Jesus.

“If it were not so, I would have told you,” said the Lord Jesus (John 14:2) as He made some amazing claims. He added, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).

One of the apostles said, “We did not follow cunningly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).

“The Lord is upright; He is my Rock; and there is no unrighteousness in Him,” declares the great song-writer of Israel (Psalm 92:15).

You can have illusions, or you can know the Truth.

You cannot have it both ways.

We have to choose.

Looking at the way people had turned away from Him to chase their illusions, the Lord God said, “My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and they have dug out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

God or a hole in the ground.  Truth or our illusions.

Such a simple choice; such a hard decision for so many.

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