Leggo my Ego!

Last week on my way to an interview, as I was merging onto the interstate, a state trooper in the center lane let out a whoop on his siren and broadcast on his speaker, “the left lane is for passing — got that?” Naturally I assumed the broadcast was directed toward me; I was in the right lane and the trooper was moving considerably slower than the posted limit. Should I pass him on the right or slow down? Now I was apparently joining a highway drama already in progress (status quo for New Jersey) and after a few intense heart-thumping minutes I realized that the cynical lawman was likely addressing a slower driver in the left lane. All of this is to introduce the problematic mindset of egocentrism.

The human brain, we are informed, is the most complex thing in the universe. It is also our gateway to all experience, knowledge, revelation, insight, and inspiration. We are limited in all our ventures by the tangible limits of our biological brains. Everything we associate with religion is mediated and filtered by our brains. As my friend and seminary professor K. Marvin Bruce likes to say, “consciousness is as much a curse as a blessing.” Our brains can be traps as well as explosive openings into new worlds. Everything begins and ends with the humble ego.

I was recently reminded of this while looking at the latest round of Hubble Space Telescope images released from NASA. We consciously know the universe is incomprehensibly large, the number of stars way beyond human imagination. And yet, on this smallish planet racing around a medium-sized sun somewhere in the outer banks of the universe, people have always thought the gods were concerned with them. The earliest cultures believed that humans were created in the service of the gods. We live, we wonder, we die. As long as the gods are pleased, the world continues much as it always has. In their eyes the stars that far outnumber the human population were gods. Their universe was more divine than profane. Yet even in our galaxy-filled universe, our brains can’t help but believe that somehow we’re in the very middle of it all.

Where's Wiggins? Not even on the map!

Where's Wiggins? Not even on the map!

2 thoughts on “Leggo my Ego!

  1. Steve Wiggins

    Agreed! The photos of galaxies were very impressive, but there seemed to be something very enticing about these colorful stars. Maybe they are just a little easier to comprehend.


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