As I am sure a few of you have noticed, I have had something of a one-track mind lately with my upcoming presentation at the SMPT conference (schedule announced here). I was recently considering why I felt so strongly about this idea of spirit birth, when others don’t share this feeling - and even go to great length to dismiss the idea in spite of current church teachings on the subject. This brings me to the story of Pinocchio which may bring some interesting discussion on the topic.
Geppetto was a wood carver who apparently had no family. He had a cat and a fish, which was better than nothing, but they were not satisfying. Geppetto wanted a real boy.
Geppetto eventually carved a beautiful boy puppet, and named him Pinocchio. But this was not satisfying either. Geppetto prayed for a real boy.
In partial answer to his prayer, some magic ferry came down, waved her wand, and changed Pinocchio. He now could move and talk, and seemed to have a personality and a will of his own. This was a great improvement, but was still not satisfying. He was not ‘real’. Geppetto wanted a real boy, and Pinocchio wanted to be a real boy.
This illustrates my feelings about spirit birth. Without this idea I would not feel like a ‘real boy’ with respect to God. The idea about being adopted would potentially put me in the place of the cat or the goldfish. This may be better than nothing, but in comparison to being a real boy it would be fundamentally unsatisfying. Similarly the idea of being ‘constructed’ out of spirit materials would put me in a position of the magically animated puppet. Sure this would be better than a puppet on a string, but it would not be as ‘real’ as I would want.
This brings us to realness, and what that is. At the end of the movie, Pinocchio was ‘real’ in terms of being the same type of being that Geppetto was, with the same type of potential. This is what finally made Pinocchio’s life and situation satisfying.
Of course the problem for me in this is the method. I am left a little unsatisfied by the magic wand waving. It makes me wonder if in later years Pinocchio would begin to wonder just how ‘real’ he really was. Was this just some magic trick? Who was his ‘real’ mother and father? Did he just have the sensation and image of realness?
Bottom line, the desire for being a ‘real boy’ with respect to God is an important part of my motivation behind defending this religious idea.