Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The bullet that shot through the key and caused a big problem

Folklore as we all know is rich in tales and myths, but one particular metaphor that derives from folklore has been coming to my mind lately. It's the metaphor of the silver bullet. The silver bullet is actually referring to the only bullet that is capable of killing werewolfs. Obviously it works. Today the werewolf is extinct due to many brave people who decided that enough was enough, and purchased silver bullets of their own.
Today the silver bullet refers to any new technology, medicine, or practice that is effective in solving human dilemmas. Time however, has made it brutally clear that few silver bullets actually exist. They are just as rare as the monsters there made to kill. The silver bullet philosophy and those who adopt it often forget to consider the consequences that result from becoming reductionists.
In reference to our spiritual lives I began to reflect on all the times I have either said or heard the phrase, "All you need to do is..." or "The key is..." While people who make these comments (myself included) are sincere and mean no harm, they fail to realize that many of life's problems require that multiple powers work in tandem to bring about solutions. Take for example what Peter says in his epistle,

"Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. "

Peter lists seven things that should be added to our faith if we are to be fruitful in Jesus Christ. (You could actually say it's eight, if you don't have faith to begin with, but that's another message). Maneuvering through the vicissitudes of life is more manageable when we stop looking for the famous "silver bullets" and the infamous " key." It is an empowering thing to know that God has not given us one screwdriver to build an entire house. It's awfully tempting to both want and to offer a single solution that can be applied to complicated issues, but reality has proven that some things, not all, require us to exercise synergy so that we don't waste precious energy.
So the next time life challenges us to pull various resources together let's not loose heart, but let us be thankful that God has given us an entire arsenal instead of a silver bullet.