News from the Tennessee Valley Religion

Josh Head

Video game growth a bit like faith

A while back I had the opportunity to enjoy life outside the box.

My boys introduced me to one of the newest video games. It consists of a mat on the floor with all the moves and functions of the game controlled with your feet. The actions on the mat correspond with the actions on the TV screen via PlayStation 2 technology, which makes everything work as it should.

I could not help but think of the Pong video game that I had when I was my children's age. If you're from my era, I bet you had one. You could move two vertical dashes on each side of the TV screen up or down to hit an on-screen blip, which went back and forth.

I could not help but think that someone along the line thought outside the box. To go from a dash-blip Pong video game where the most excitement came from trying to play with your eyes closed to a video game controlled solely with the player's feet means someone had to think outside the box.

In his book "Aquachurch," Leonard Sweet gives a little test to help see how good you are at thinking outside the box. Which of the following numbers is most different from the others? 1. One 2. Thirteen 3. Thirty-one. Concentrate now, this is easy. Don't glance forward until you've made your choice.

If you are like most people, you concentrated on the spelled-out numbers, but who said you had to ignore the notational numbers? The No. 2 is most different because it is the only even number in a group of odd numbers.

Some people might say, "So what? Who cares? Tests like that are silly."

But maybe it's time for some of us to begin to better learn how to think outside the box. It's when one cannot see outside the box that answers to problems are sometimes limited.

We live in a different world than our grandparents did. This world is just not the same place it used to be. Relativism, post-modernism and skepticism dominate our society. In the 21st century we may have to think outside the box to be effective with solutions to some of the world's problems.

Maybe you are not too good at thinking outside the box.

Let me tell you about a man who was a master at thinking outside the box and who can help you do the same. His background was in carpentry, and he could build a box with the best of them. When he was not building boxes, he was taking existing boxes apart and building completely new ones. He even built boxes that became bridges, which reached into the lives of other people.

He built boxes dealing with multiculturalism as he networked his message outside his homeland. He built boxes dealing with race relations as he saw people instead of skin tones. He built boxes dealing with gender and prejudice as he networked his message beyond the accepted societal norms of his day.

This master carpenter took extremely difficult issues, and had the creative courage to think and act outside the box to reach workable solutions.

Maybe there are some lessons for us here, both in attitude and method. Maybe there are some lessons in our 21st century world from a first-century Jewish carpenter who knew a lot about boxes and what to do with them.

Pong was OK in its day, but PlayStation 2 is a lot more fun.

Josh Head, senior minister of Decatur Christian Church, is one of several local ministers writing religion columns for THE DAILY. For more information, call Melanie Smith on Tuesdays or Wednesdays at 340-2468.

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