There is so much to write about these days I sometimes suffer from too many options. From draconian gun laws that are patently unconstitutional, to attempts to modify social norms by corporate interests, there is so much subject matter floating around I often get lost in the possibilities. Every so often, though (usually for me at around 10:00 at night), neurons flicker in my brain and get me thinking about something.
Sometimes the epiphany requires I immediately sit down at my computer and begin writing the first draft of a blog. Other times, like this one, I take note of the muse and realize this one may take some serious deep thinking. It might not be appropriate for “next week’s” blog… I might need to think about this for months… even years… before I draft something.
This time around I want to create an interesting nexus. Yes… we will be talking about weapons training here, for weapons training has metaphorical connotations that can transcend the mere ability to make a gun go bang. We will also be talking about personal development: being, the act of becoming and, while we are at it, the whole concept of God Himself. (Because why not throw a little theological mischief into the equation?)
This whole line of thought started a while ago when I was thinking about God. I had just finished revisiting Karen Armstrong’s A History of God, and one of my other favorite books, Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions. It’s hard not to do some serious academic contemplation of the Almighty when you steep yourself in this stuff. I also stumbled upon a more contemporary academic (albeit a somewhat controversial one, though I am still struggling to understand from where the controversy manifests), Dr. Jordon Peterson.
It was in the maelstrom of cosmic thought I saw a passage from Dr. Peterson that nicely connected the academic concept of God and the struggle many of us have with the narrative interpretation of Him. Peterson referenced the story arc of Superman. Yes… Superman, the comic book character first appearing in print in the 1930s.
The original Superman was essentially a deity, capable of being all places at all times (through locomotion if not cosmic transport), impervious to everything and essentially immortal. Fortunately for humanity he was benevolent. Initially he was extremely popular among readers, but his fortunes soon began to falter. When you write (or draw) characters who, by definition, cannot grow or struggle or do not have the potential for failure, interest in them soon wanes after the novelty of their presence expires.
Contrast this with Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen by Alan Moore. Dr. Manhattan literally becomes a god (if not actually God Himself). Yet he is vulnerable, potentially capable of being outsmarted, and ultimately subject to exile. There is a risk in being Dr. Manhattan. The end is not a forgone conclusion as was the case with the original Superman. To place your bets with Dr. Manhattan required a certain degree of risk, not so with Superman. With the former you did not really need to read the story… by definition you already knew how it would end. With the latter there was no guarantee, only hope.
The Western God has gone through an arc as well. Few would argue a definable change between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. Even the modern interpretations of televangelists, New Age proponents, and “Bay Area Spiritualists” have created morphs, distinctions, and differences in God. (In fact, one could say that to some extent they have negated the very concept of Him entirely).
What we have seen, and this is academic and empirical, not argumentative, is that the notion of God has morphed and transformed throughout the time we have been thinking about Him. The same source material is being channeled to be sure, but the interpretations have expanded or contracted based on the age.
Perhaps this is a necessary phenomenon to keep God relevant and interesting? Like Superman without a risk, a potentiality of growth, there exists little interest outside of the novelty.
What this larger, overall conceptual approach shows is that human beings need struggle, we need growth, we need experimentation. Our biologic evolutionary approach has been through experimentation against our environment, with both wins and losses. Our individual growth arc is, by definition, a history of testing boundaries, stunning losses, incredible victories, and sometimes, usually, daily mundane pivots to what works for us from what does not work. We are creatures individually of curiosity, and as a species, curiosity is part of what makes us successful. If there is no risk of loss, no conflict as it were, then perhaps there is little value in the narrative.
I have come to suspect this might reflect on the underlying necessity of Lucifer himself. Not the equal of God (that would be cosmically problematic), he does play an important role in the canon. Illuminating the presence of free will (something that God wants, that Lucifer would feel is contradictory), as well as the potential for a good, old-fashioned slug fest between the “good guys and the bad guys”, Lucifer represents the “risk”, not just for us individually, but for Heaven itself. We “know” in the coming confrontation God and his Angels will prevail, but if God is omniscient and all powerful, why have the confrontation at all? Why not just have a cosmic “sneeze” and eliminate all of Satan’s powers? Why create the friction? Or, at the very least, why allow the friction to continue?… Because it is absolutely necessary for risk, growth, and becoming. God may be the ultimate Being, but without a narrative of becoming, there is little value.
So… how does this have any relevance to a tactical reload? A five-count presentation? A non-disturbed sight picture?
Because you as the practitioner are never “done”. The essence of shooting is becoming one with the gun and allowing it to become one with you. If you are separate, distinct, and the gun is an “other”, you might be able to mechanically operate it, but you will never transcend as a shooter. There needs to be a moment in time when the gun ceases being distinct and becomes an actual extension of you for true greatness to occur. The key word in the second sentence of this paragraph is “becoming”. Becoming is the predicate to “being”. Being is the ultimate, and paradoxically, the impossible goal.
Once we have achieved being, then future growth becomes unnecessary. Without future growth we lose interest. What truly happens in our journey to being is that we have moments of clarity where we see the potential for future growth from our new vantage point that we could never have anticipated. That is what makes the journey so interesting, so necessary, so quintessentially human.
So yes… the “devil may live in the details”, but God is in the journey.