O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


What’s Up with the Turtles?

posted by Jason Boyett

For those of you who are interested in such things, here’s the back cover copy for O Me of Little Faith:

————-

True Confessions

I am a Christian.

I have been a Christian for most of my life. But there are times—an uncomfortable frequency of times, to be honest—when I’m not entirely sure I believe in God.

There. I said it.

From this unconventional profession of faith, Jason Boyett sets off on a journey down a sometimes painful, often hilarious, always honest road of inquisition, searching for a God who occasionally seems to disappear.

An earnest seeker who clings to faith even as he explores the hiddenness of God, Boyett asks uncomfortable questions — the questions many of us have but dare not say aloud. His willingness to ask these questions have made him immune to over-spiritualized church talk, suspicious of public prayers, and annoyed by too-certain believers who seem to get “personal promptings from Jesus and detailed directions about even the most trivial aspects of their lives.” (Boyett has his doubts.)

Written for doubters by a doubter, this is not a tidy, 5-step solution for fixing spiritual uncertainty. Nor is it a cynical, anti-religious screed. Instead, it’s a hopeful, confessional exploration of the relationship between faith and doubt. It’s a book loaded with grace, encouragement, humor, and — for what it’s worth — an inordinate number of references to turtles and French daredevils.

————-

That’s right: turtles and French daredevils.

Seriously, the second chapter of the book is pretty much built around turtles as a metaphor for faith. So I have a contest idea. If you can identify what role turtles play in this metaphor — guess the symbolism, the illustration, the object lesson, the literary allusion, or otherwise figure it out — then I’ll send you a free signed copy of Pocket Guide to the Bible. (If you already have PGTTB, I’ll send you something else.)

Leave your guesses in the comments. The contest closes at 9 am tomorrow (Thursday, Feb. 4), at which time I’ll reveal the answer.

If you have already read the chapter in question, or if I have told you about the turtles, then you are excluded from this contest, cheater.

Predict away, friends.



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joshhatcher

posted February 3, 2010 at 8:15 am


turtles symbolism – ancient religions believed that the earth was perched on the backs of a stack of animals. the one supporting the whole thing was a turtle.this, of course it nonsense, and easy to doubt.that's my guess at the symbolism.officejosh@gmail.com



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Jana Green

posted February 3, 2010 at 8:22 am


I was just going to say that the turtle symbolized the ability to hide from something, whether it be problems, the truth, etc.



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Nicole

posted February 3, 2010 at 8:34 am


The turtle is a symbol for faith in that we have to retreat into our shell (ourselves; listen to God's still, small voice from within) in order to find the answers/feel safe.Or…Our faith journey is like a turtle walking somewhere. It takes a lot of work and patience to make even a little progress, and people on the outside don't always understand what all the fuss is about.Something to that effect.p.s. Really looking forward to reading your new book, Jason. And I think my husband will really like it. And not just because his name is Jason, but because he, too, is a doubter.



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angela

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:10 am


Turtles all the way down …



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Jason Boyett

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:20 am


Angela is a cheater. Please disregard any of her hints, as they are likely to be misdirections from an untrustworthy source with no firsthand knowledge of my book or the turtles therein. No knowledge whatsoever. At all./disclaimer



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Crystal

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:09 am


I feel pretty confident that this is in reference to the fact that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rescued innocent citizens from the clutches of evil (much like Jesus has rescued us) and so New York (and especially April) had great faith in them, because the TMNT never let them down. Sometimes the citizens didn't understand their choices (like carrying a bowstaff–I'm looking at you, Donatello), but they knew that their best interests were at heart. Just like God. Oh, and they ate pizza and we all know pizza is God's favorite food.Spot on, right??



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radosh

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:18 am


Angela beat me to it. But I already have the book anyway.



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Charlie's Church of Christ - The Chosen Ones

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:19 am


Turtles, when they are turned over on their backs/shells, have no power to get themselves right side up, so they must have faith that something outside of themselves will help them. And, sometimes the help is not timely.



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myleswerntz

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:22 am


yep–turtles all the way down (Geertz).



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Andrea Schultz

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:32 am


Jason – I would say turtles relate to how we need to be patient and slow in our spiritual journey – the Turtle and Hare fable, as an example. Slow and steady wins the race!Blessings – Andreaandrealschultz[at]gmail[dot]com



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Ken Summerlin

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:40 am


I understand that you can make a really tasty soup from turtles so maybe it's that if you simmer all of us Christians over low heat for a long time . . .I'm not saying . . . I'm just saying.



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Nietzsche's Downfall

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:58 am


Feels like a reference to John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath chapter 3, where a turtle crosses the road. The turtle keeps at his journey, even though one woman careens her car to avoid him and a man actually attempts to hit him, nicking his shell and flipping him over. He rights himself and just keeps on going. Perhaps turtles show the pace at which our walk with God moves. Takes awhile, sometimes frustratingly slow. We don't even fully know where it's going to go. We just keep going at a slow pace, even when things try to knock us on our backs.



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Bernard Shuford

posted February 3, 2010 at 12:44 pm


I would say that a turtle represents the Christian whose faith feels like it can never win. Some other "Christian" with more faith always SEEMS to be winning the race, but the turtle will come through in the end because he doesn't quit having faith.



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jenny

posted February 3, 2010 at 1:36 pm


I think turtles would represent how the majority of churches in the USA claim to be Christian, are really more like turtles who slowed down a long time ago and eventually just pulled their heads into their shells.Or they need to pull them out of their…;)



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Terry

posted February 3, 2010 at 1:46 pm


Far easier to pull your head (and everything else) inside your shell when anything get a little challenging or scary, than it is to keep your head out, ask questions, and move forward. Even if it is a bit slow, at least it's forward (and honest.)



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Tess Mallory

posted February 3, 2010 at 5:19 pm


Okay JB, this is an awesome contest. I would say the symbolism of the turtle is going to be that when you're experiencing doubt as a Christian, it's like when a turtle is on its back. You can't turn over, you can't get your feet back under you, and you can't move forward or go back. You are, in a sense, stuck. Did I win? Did I win? :)))Tess



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Tess Mallory

posted February 3, 2010 at 5:19 pm


Either that or you're just messing with us and there are no turtles. Or you had a pet turtle and fed it chocolate and it died. Just covering my bases. :)



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Anonymous

posted February 4, 2010 at 12:12 am


Infinite regress?- Fastthumbs



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Saskia

posted February 4, 2010 at 2:17 am


Turtles..um, my mind goes to first a kind of turtle-and-hare symbolism (although it's supposed to be a tortoise I think), a the first will be last and the last will be first kind of thing. Then there's something to do with retracting one's head into one's shell (perhaps you were trying to be original and so didn't use an ostrich?). And then, of course, there's the Discworld, a book series based upon the idea that the world is held up by four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle (named Atuin, I think). I hope it's something to do with the last part, I'd love to see you work in giant turtles into a book on faith.reading the comments, I have no idea what turtles all the way down means. So I guess I'm going to have to wait for the book.



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Saskia

posted February 4, 2010 at 2:18 am


ah, now I know what turtles all the way down means (thanks, Wiki!) but I still don't know what it has to do with your book. My curiosity is piqued, though..



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Susie Boldt

posted February 4, 2010 at 7:06 am


I'm assuming that the turtle represents our tendency to hide from God at every little sin in our lives. Like the turtle hides it's face in it's shell, we hide our true feelings from Christ (whether or not we remember that He already knows)! Also, because the turtle walks so slow, it could be a metaphor to how slowly we walk in our Christian walks. And then at the first sign of trouble or doubting, we stop and hide, maybe even take a few steps backwards.



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Himangsu Sekhar Pal

posted December 31, 2010 at 7:08 am


Proof That There Is A God
Or
Proof that God has not kept Himself hidden
A, Properties of a Whole Thing
If at the beginning there was something at all, and if that something was the whole thing, then it can be shown that by logical necessity that something will have to be spaceless, timeless, changeless, deathless. This is by virtue of that something being the whole thing. Something is the whole thing means there cannot be anything at all outside of that something; neither space, nor time, nor matter, nor anything else. It is the alpha and omega of existence. But, if it is the whole thing, then it must have to be spaceless, timeless, changeless, deathless. Otherwise it will be merely a part of a bigger whole thing. Now let us denote this something by a big X. Now, can this X be in any space? No, it cannot be. If it is, then where is that space itself located? It must have to be in another world outside of X. But by definition there cannot be anything outside of X. Therefore X cannot be in any space. Again, can this X have any space? No, it cannot have. If we say that it can have, then we will again be in a logical contradiction. Because if X can have any space, then that space must have to be outside of it. Therefore when we consider X as a whole, then we will have to say that neither can it be in any space, nor can it have any space. In every respect it will be spaceless. For something to have space it must already have to be in some space. Even a prisoner has some space, although this space is confined within the four walls of his prison cell. But the whole thing, if it is really the whole thing, cannot have any space. If it can have, then it no longer remains the whole thing. It will be self-contradictory for a whole thing to have any space. Similarly it can be shown that this X can neither be in time, nor have any time. For a whole thing there cannot be any ‘before’, any ‘after’. For it there can be only an eternal ‘present’. It will be in a timeless state. If the whole thing is in time, then it is already placed in a world where there is a past, a present, and a future, and therefore it is no longer the whole thing. Now, if X as a whole is spaceless, timeless, then that X as a whole will also be changeless. There might always be some changes going on inside X, but when the question comes as to whether X itself is changing as a whole, then we are in a dilemma. How will we measure that change? In which time-scale shall we have to put that X in order for us to be able to measure that change? That time-scale must necessarily have to be outside of X. But there cannot be any such time-scale. So it is better not to say anything about its change as a whole. For the same reason X as a whole can never cease to be. It cannot die, because death is also a change. Therefore we see that if X is the first thing and the whole thing, then X will have the properties of spacelessness, timelessness, changelessness, deathlessness by virtue of its being the whole thing. It is a logical necessity. Now, this X may be anything; it may be light, it may be sound, or it may be any other thing. Whatever it may be, it will have the above four properties of X. Now, if we find that there is nothing in this universe that possesses the above four properties of X, then we can safely conclude that at the beginning there was nothing at all, and that therefore scientists are absolutely correct in asserting that the entire universe has simply originated out of nothing. But if we find that there is at least one thing in the universe that possesses these properties, then we will be forced to conclude that that thing was the first thing, and that therefore scientists are wrong in their assertion that at the beginning there was nothing. This is only because a thing can have the above four properties by virtue of its being the first thing and by virtue of this first thing being the whole thing, and not for any other reason. Scientists have shown that in this universe light, and light only, is having the above four properties. They have shown that for light time, as well as distance, become unreal. I have already shown elsewhere that a timeless world is a deathless, changeless world. For light even infinite distance becomes zero, and therefore volume of an infinite space also becomes zero. So the only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that at the beginning there was light, and that therefore scientists are wrong in asserting that at the beginning there was nothing.
Another very strong reason can be given in support of our belief that at the beginning there was light. The whole thing will have another very crucial and important property: immobility. Whole thing as a whole thing cannot move at all, because it has nowhere to go. Movement means going from one place to another place, movement means changing of position with respect to something else. But if the whole thing is really the whole thing, then there cannot be anything else other than the whole thing. Therefore if the whole thing moves at all, then with respect to which other thing is it changing its position? And therefore it cannot have any movement, it is immobile. Now, if light is the whole thing, then light will also have this property of immobility. Now let us suppose that the whole thing occupies an infinite space, and that light is the whole thing. As light is the whole thing, and as space is also infinite here, then within this infinite space light can have the property of immobility if, and only if, for light even the infinite distance is reduced to zero. Scientists have shown that this is just the case. From special theory of relativity we come to know that for light even infinite distance becomes zero, and that therefore it cannot have any movement, because it has nowhere to go. It simply becomes immobile. This gives us another reason to believe that at the beginning there was light, and that therefore scientists are wrong in asserting that at the beginning there was nothing.
I know very well that an objection will be raised here, and that it will be a very severe objection. I also know what will be the content of that objection: can a whole thing beget another whole thing? I have said that at the beginning there was light, and that light was the whole thing. Again I am saying that the created light is also the whole thing, that is why it has all the properties of the whole thing. So the whole matter comes to this: a whole thing has given birth to another whole thing, which is logically impossible. If the first thing is the whole thing, then there cannot be a second whole thing, but within the whole thing there can be many other created things, none of which will be a whole thing. So the created light can in no way be a whole thing, it is logically impossible. But is it logically impossible for the created light to have all the properties of the whole thing? So what I intend to say here is this: created light is not the original light, but created light has been given all the properties of the original light, so that through the created light we can have a glimpse of the original light. If the created light was not having all these properties, then who would have believed that in this universe it is quite possible to be spaceless, timeless, changeless, deathless? If nobody believes in Scriptures, and if no one has any faith in personal revelation or mystical experience, and if no one wants to depend on any kind of authority here, and if no one even tries to know Him through meditation, then how can the presence of God be made known to man, if not through a created thing only? So, not through Vedas, nor through Bible, nor through Koran, nor through any other religious books, but through light and light only, God has revealed himself to man. That is why we find in created light all the most essential properties of God: spacelessness, timelessness, changelessness, deathlessness.
Footnote: If the universe is treated as one whole unit, then it can be said to be spaceless, timeless. I first got this idea from an article by Dr. Lee Smolin read in the internet. Rest things I have developed. This is as an acknowledgement.
B. CLIMAX
I think we need no further proof for the existence of God. That light has all the five properties of the whole thing is sufficient. I will have to explain.
Scientists are trying to establish that our universe has started from nothing. We want to contradict it by saying that it has started from something. When we are saying that at the beginning there was something, we are saying that there was something. We are not saying that there was some other thing also other than that something. Therefore when we are saying that at the beginning there was something, we are saying that at the beginning there was a whole thing. Therefore we are contradicting the statement that our universe has started from nothing by the statement that our universe has started from a whole thing.
I have already shown that a whole thing will have the properties of spacelessness, timelessness, changelessness, deathlessness, immobility (STCDI). This is by logical necessity alone. It is logically contradictory to say that a whole thing can have space. Let us suppose that the whole thing is having space. Then the so-called whole thing along with the space that it is having will constitute the real whole thing. If my arguments that I have offered so far to show that the whole thing will always have the above five properties by virtue of its being the whole thing are sound, and if they cannot be faulted from any angle, then I can make the following statements:
1. In this universe only a whole thing can have the properties of STCDI by logical necessity alone.
2. If the universe has started from nothing, then nothing in this universe will have the properties of STCDI.
3. If the universe has started from a whole thing, then also nothing other than the initial whole thing will have the properties of STCDI. This is only because a whole thing cannot beget another whole thing.
4. But in this universe we find that light, in spite of its not being a whole thing, is still having the properties of STCDI.
5. This can only happen if, and only if, the initial whole thing itself has purposefully given its own properties to light, in order to make its presence known to us through light.
6. But for that the initial whole thing must have to have consciousness.
7. So, from above we can come to the following conclusion: the fact that light, in spite of its not being a whole thing, still possesses the properties of STCDI, is itself a sufficient proof for the fact that the universe has started from a conscious whole thing, and that this conscious whole thing is none other than God.



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