Bible, Teaching
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Weird Bicycles and Booze

Photo: artstandere/Foter/CC BY-ND

Photo: artstandere/Foter/CC BY-ND

[by Sandy McIntosh] I’m a fan of DIY projects, where people make things instead of just buying something off the shelf. The problem with new ideas is that they show our wrong thinking. And it turns out, we are set in our ways and we don’t know what the truth is.

One odd trend is reverse steering bicycles. It’s a new fad.

Reverse steering means the handle bars turn one way, and the wheel turns the other. There are many Internet videos about these experiments. Search “reverse steering bicycle” to see what I mean.

Also I was in a coffee shop the other day and the men at the next table were counseling a desperate alcoholic whose life was falling apart. I could see the desperation.

Weird bicycles and booze have something in common.

One engineer discovered that his own thinking was a problem when he rode a reverse steering bike. He was intelligent and highly coordinated, but he could not ride a strange machine built by some welders.

After eight months of concentrated effort, he was able to ride a short distance; but then he was not able to ride a normal bike. His brain could only accept one truth at a time. He needed 20 minutes to relearn how to ride a normal bike, something he learned as a child.

This and similar videos are interesting, and they tell us about ourselves. The human brain does not recognize truth; it perceives entrenched habits as true and good. Our truth is only mental ruts, patterns that we have learned.

The engineer was humble enough to admit that he was the problem, and he solved the bicycle problem by programming his thought patterns. And then he changed them back.

This truth about the truth was included in 12 step programs by the Christians who founded Alcoholics Anonymous, AA. In more religious times, people spoke openly about God and admitted that their brains needed to be retrained, with support from a higher power. Destructive behaviour like alcohol addiction was truth, until the brain was programmed to new patterns and found a new truth. And the real truth came from above, not from other failed human beings.

12 step programs are successful, and popular, and also severely criticized because of a belief in God.

The original steps are:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I’m a big fan. I’m not an alcoholic, but I’m a something-holic, and so are you. The engineer on the bicycle learned that human progress is impossible until we stop believing what we know, and find something higher.

Generations of addicts have learned the same truth.

The idea is as old as the human race:

“Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God …” (Ephesians 4: 22, 23, and 24)

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