Life is Complicated
Or I could have entitled this post “The Theological Insights of Rube Goldberg” which, incidentally is what I started with…
Everyone knows that Rube Goldberg devices are awesome celebrations of crowning inefficiencies. Indeed, their inefficiency is part of their allure. And they are a fantastic teaching tool regarding so many facets of life. I have used Rube Goldberg machines to teach about the conservation of energy; others I know use Rube Goldberg to teach about engineering design, teamwork, consequence chains, and probably a whole host of other things.
Below we have one of my favorite featured Rube Goldberg devices, as used in a Honda commercial.
The commercial closes with the question “Isn’t it nice when things just work?” But the same commercial carries the irony of the Rube Goldberg machine as a very over-engineered machine performs a very simple task through a very complicated process.
But isn’t that how life goes, particularly when one attempts to find one’s life in Christ? After all, does not the Law boil down to the double- (some say triple-) commandment of Love as we are exhorted to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our mind and with all of our strength while loving our neighbor as ourselves?
Yet things are messy, complicated, convoluted, sometimes even backwards along the way. Few manage to find an elegant way to stumble their way through their life’s journey. Indeed, flowing linearly through an assembly line might be the best possible way to design cars in bulk, but this model cannot be how we live our lives. After all, we are not so much about a final product as we are about refining particular processes: the processes of Love, the processes of Life. These processes call us into orchestrated motion. Sometimes the orchestra needs to tune, sometimes whole sections remain silent, but everyone and everything works together for the quality of the product, a symphonic process that invites others to participate. But isn’t it nice when everything just works?
The things about Rube Goldberg machines is that no two are created the same, even if the machine has been designed to perform the same end task or by the same team. Also, it is entirely tricky to make sure that everything goes “just so” in a Rube Goldberg device. Yeah, it can be a pain in the royal hindparts to reset the machine after getting through the first 8 transitions of a 50 transition system. But no two machines are the same. Even after every “failure” the team adjusts the machine, perhaps shifts a transition, adds additional components, or removes something extra. So it is with living a life of Love; we try to give ourselves over to enjoying the process making adjustments along the way, asking God for His help because He is the only one who has the perspective to see how so many disparate parts could possibly come together.
And so I leave you with another celebration of the convoluted, although music video style (original video found by my friend Aideen)