Recently came across this again as well. Originally posted 9/15/2011. I don't believe he and I ever spoke again. Maybe one day. :)
I had a wonderful conversation with a discerning person today. He had a lot of great questions about not only Catholicism, but theology in general. Steeped in psychology and sociology, theology was something that he didn't quite "get."
More specifically, he didn't get why someone would freely follow something like the Golden Rule.
Out of nowhere, I asked him "If you had a cookie, and your best friend really, really wanted some, you'd share it, right?"
He affirmed and so I said, "Why? Because it makes you happy to provide for your friend which in turn makes your friend happy, doesn't it?"
Now, when I say this cookie analogy came out of nowhere, it seriously came out of nowhere. I don't typically liken things to cookies, but for some reason, the Golden Rule kept summarizing into this tasty treat. So, not sure where it would lead, I left it up to God and said, "Alright, you wanna talk cookies today? Make it happen." Of course, He did. :)
My newly found friend attempted to pick apart my analogy morsel by morsel. "Why not just give my buddy the entire cookie?" "What if I have two cookies?" "Why aren't there infinite cookies to go around?"
This all led back to Divine Providence. In explaining this whole cookie business to him, I learned something myself. This is why I love apologetics. Once you immerse yourself in understanding the faith better so you're able to explain it better to others, you inevitably uncover truths that've been staring you in the face, ever-so-politely, for the last 20 some odd years of your life.
Anyway, back to Divine Providence.
I explained that the Golden Rule was truly the sum of all Catholic ideology. Lots of people have heard the addage "Love thy neighbor as thyself" but honestly, we are called to better than that. We, as Christians, are called to love one another as Christ, Himself, loved. Instead, the world is full of selfish people who care only about themselves, or worse, the power they struggle to obtain or keep hold of. Every single issue the world suffers from is rooted in this warped "love."
So he pressed me with more questions, and I doled out more chocolate chip goodness.
He stated, "Why can't I just get another cookie to give to him?"
I explained that God doesn't give endless cookies like this purposefully. It is yet another blessing of God. We GAIN something through the experience of sharing. It is a fluid act of love. Sharing the cookie makes BOTH parties feel happiness, and more importantly, validation. That happiness and validation is love. Yet it is a fluid love... an actionable love that springs into being through a simple act of sharing. Emotions come to life through that cookie, which was given by God specifically for that purpose. If God had given both him and his friend cookies, he'd've never had the chance to experience the joy of sharing, and he and his friend, though satiated with their own cookies, wouldn't have gotten the added bonus of happiness and validation through that interpersonal exchange of love.
This is how God chooses to bless the world through Divine Providence. When my new friend lamented that there weren't "enough cookies to go around" I corrected him. In fact, that are MORE than enough cookies in the world, but because of selfishness, greed, and a lack of loving each other as Christ loves, folks miss the opportunity to take part in this fluid love that God offers to us.
So he asked, then, why he had to sacrifice half his cookie for his friend if it was, in fact, a blessing.
So I posed this question: "If I were to give you $100 on the fly, you'd be pretty happy, right? Let's say you give $50 to your buddy, because he really needs to buy some groceries for his family. You give him $50, which leaves you with $50. Would you still say that you lost in that situation?"
Of course, he replied, "Well no, because I'd still have $50."
And I said, "Exactly... we aren't given the $100 or the plate of 10 cookies for ourselves. We are given certain things specifically so we can take part in God's love through sharing with our neighbors."
I think a lightbulb went off for him at this moment, so he derails for a bit and asks, "Well, what about those who don't have material goods?"
And I smiled. I explained that material goods aren't the only things we've been blessed with to share. Time, talent, prayers, and even emotional support are all gifts we can give to one another.
At this point in the conversation, I had to take my leave, but I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with him. I left him my contact info and I hope we cross paths again. I certainly learned a thing or two from our conversation, and I truly pray he did as well.
As for us, may we all accept our cookies graciously, and in turn graciously share them with all our neighbors as a proper Thank You to the One who Baked them. :)
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