Yes, that Lois Lowry book you probably read in fourth grade. It’s about a utopian society where there is no pain or suffering, but also no great joy or love– for everyone except the Receiver, the one member of society who knows the full breadth of human experience. Having Received the memories of failed societies from those before him, he uses that knowledge to advise the community on how to avoid them. When a new Receiver is chosen, the old Receiver becomes the Giver, transmits his memories and experiences to the new Receiver, allowing him to experience them firsthand. Only after having felt pain and sorrow can the Receiver fully know the consequences of failed society.
I wish I could Give my memories to someone. The good as well as the bad. I can talk about them, I can write about them, but words are only a symbolic approximation and fall far short of actual experience. Can you truly understand anything unless you’ve experienced it firsthand?
The things I most wish I could Give are the good memories I have from being a Christian– of landmarks in my spiritual development, “conversion experiences,” etc. Things that were my most precious memories when I was a Christian, but are no longer so meaningful to me now. In fact, I knew I had truly become an atheist when I realized those memories no longer meant much to me.
I’m not ashamed of having been a Christian. But I wish I could give those experiences to someone who would appreciate them. I think they deserve better than the back alley of my long-term memory.
I’ve been posting more prolifically this week than I ever have. That’s because it is absolutely killing me to write devotionals and papers on my spiritual development and Integrate Faith and Learning “For Christ and His Kingdom”. Not to mention reading things like Alister McGrath, who for God’s sake just needs to shut up about Dawkins and get his own material already.