Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer.
Are we human or are we dancer?
“I’m totally a dancer!” I remember my friend screaming to me on a busy dance floor one college Saturday night as this song played. “What?” I mouthed back. “This song, it’s about me, I’m a dancer!” I nodded, thinking to myself: I don’t think that’s a good thing.
This song, written by the Mormon band The Killers, is a little more complicated than whether or not we were born to dance. As a Killers fan for many years before this song came out, I knew their ability to turn poetic prayers into pop songs. And “Human” did just that.
Perhaps I was jealous my friend had, unknowingly, taken a stance on a theological question I had wrestled with for years. Are we human? Or are we dancer? Is God orchestrating our lives? Are we, as dancers, puppets in a grand drama orchestrated by God? Or do we have autonomy? Do we make our own decisions and look to God for guidance?
Growing up in the Presbyterian Church, I was fascinated by the idea of predestination. Mind you, I was not an overly outgoing child, so I never talked to anyone about it. For me, predestination meant that God had chosen people for salvation. Plain and simple. And for some reason, I could always accept that there were people chosen (and not chosen) from a human perspective, but not from a Godly one. Was God never surprised by God’s followers? Was God orchestrating everything? Could we lose our chosenness? Now, mind you, I’ve come a long way from that theology. But the biggest question remains: Is God ever surprised?
Let’s start with the dancer camp. This is the “everything happens for a reason” group, with that reason being God. On one hand, it is nice to think about God being with us and directing all of our interactions. But we lose a sense of autonomy and have no authority over ourselves. Once we start down this path, we begin to wonder “what’s the point if God already knows?”
But the human side has its own set of issues as well. If we are left to have full autonomy of our lives, does that mean God has no power or authority over us? Can God intervene in our lives when we need it most? Its scary to think we are completely on our own and the implications on our spiritual and prayer lives are tough to think about in this scenario.
I guess for me, I think it has to be somewhere in the middle. And this is where I have found the Holy Spirit to come best into play. When we allow the Holy Spirit to move within us, we are brought into the Trinity. We get caught up in the perichoretic dance that brings together all aspects of the Trinity and invites us to participate in, with, and under God. The more we open ourselves up to God and allow God to dwell within us, we, in turn, get to dwell with God.
While I don’t know the answer (clearly, I mean, look at how many questions I wrote in this post), I do know its time to start looking for answers. As for me, I’m going to take the Killer’s advice – you’ll find me on my knees looking for the answer – are we human, or are we dancer?