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Just Answer the Question

Most mornings, when I go into Zoe’s room to scoop her out of her crib, she greets me with a squeal, a kiss, and a “good morning Daddy!”.  The child is nearly criminally cheerful upon waking up (assuming she wakes up on her own….if you wake her up, all bets are off.).

Yesterday, however, instead of the girly squeal, the regimen was altered.  “Good morning, Daddy.”  Check.  Kiss.  Check.  Puzzled pause….”Are you a robot?”.

“No. I’m not a robot.  I’m your daddy.”

“Are you sure?”


And that satisfied her…at least in my case.  During the course of the morning, I think I heard her ask every member of the house whether or not they were a robot.  A few people got the question more than once – apparently she was more suspicious of some of us than others.  She didn’t seem scared of robots…more like she had a hunch that a few of us were not under our own control and she wanted to verify who was who.

I think she’s right – maybe not about us, but about some people.  Other people.  Robot people.

Zoe is right, you know.  Robot people aren’t anything to be afraid of.  They’re actually more properly pitied.  They answer yes or no, respond positively or negatively, bend one way or another based on the merits of the situation, but rather on their pre programmed inclinations.  They’ve been programmed over the years by  others, by circumstance, perhaps even by themselves….because programming and sticking with it was so much easier than thinking, feeling, tasting….living.

I’m pretty sure that every church I’ve ever been a part of was populated at least partially by robots.  It was hard to see because they didn’t always work in unison.  Some were programmed to believe anything.  Others were programmed to be hard wired skeptics, even in the face of facts.   Some of them were just slipping into robotic mode while others hadn’t changed their mind about anything in years.

They often had their reasons for switching onto ‘safety mode’, where all decisions were already made before the questions were answered.  Maybe they made a bad decision years back as a human.  Maybe they grew weary of the human uncertainty that seemed to surround communities of faith.  Whatever the case, they knew what they thought and the connections were made.  They checked out of the mystery in favor of a digital faith.

<tithe> paid </tithe>

<biblestudy> attended </biblestudy>

<conscience> appeased </conscience>

Don’t be so quick to pity them.  Life as a robot is easy.  Granted, no pleasure, but….no pain.  No real relationships, but….no accountability.   No decisions but no mistakes.

The only thing that can break a robot out of their test screen is a nascent memory that they are unable to debug from their program.  Somewhere, deep within, once in a while….they feel.  They ache.  They miss.  They miss people, they miss love, they even miss pain….because at least pain was feeling.   At that point, most of them wire a workaround and stumble onward stiff kneed like a mechanical puppets….but a few allow the ache to grow to a yearning, and the yearning grow to a desire….and suddenly desire is met by grace and the two become resolved.

There is life after robot, but only if the robot chooses it.


6 Responses

  1. appeased …

    I stopped being a robot, and began having tons of fun with the Lord. Alot less guilt…and freedom to be me.

    I’ve discovered that I really like who I am! When you know Him and enjoy being with Him, the other bits start to become easier.

    I think people are starting to catch on—robots aren’t alive 🙂

  2. I had the Petra song “Computer Brains” going through my head the whole time I read this.

  3. I was about to mention the same, Nick.

  4. Oh man, this is probably my favorite post ever that you’ve written… and I’ve read a looot.
    It’s just so simple and true. Definitely made me question how much of a robot I am sometimes… not just in general, but in different areas of my life. I think we do that sometimes. We’re robots sometimes probably because we think it’s easier. It really is not…

    only if we choose it, indeed.

    Kudos on the post. It was a blessing to see so many things I’ve been living and hearing God speak to me about written down by a complete stranger.

  5. Okay, great post. But I still am left with my beginning question unanswered, what inspired Zoe’s household robot hunting?

  6. I liked the html – holy trinity markup language 😉

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