Maybe, maybe not...

[I temporarily interrupt our current storyline for this…Lange and Ruess’ll return on Monday, promise]

Years ago, I and a gamillion other people read everything author Robert Fulghum wrote.  Critics summarily dismissed him as saccharine; in other words, sweet.  I’m rather fond of sweet myself.  It does wonders for black coffee, and the medicine-go-down.  A little more sweet might make for a better world.

Fulghum always had great titles: Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten; It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It; Uh-Oh…genius, pure genius.  My favorite was Maybe (Maybe Not).  The title was inspired by a Hebrew word – timshel – meaning ‘maybe.’  Something in my splankna tells me an astute reader will offer the ‘correct’ meaning of that word and it won’t be ‘maybe.’  Just remember, astute reader, that sometimes its more important to be in right relationship than it is to be right.  I heard an arrogantly humble preacher say that once, so I guess its true.  Maybe.

Fulghum’s book is a collection of stories built on the premise of well, maybe, but then again, maybe not.  Possibility...openness...wonder...all stances that, I believe, might just make for a better world.  For example
 - Maybe the most spiritual cinematic scene in recent history was when that raindrop fell from heaven in the crucifixion scene in Mel Gibson’s The Passion.  But maybe not.  Maybe it was those quiet moments in Million Dollar Baby, the ones in Ira’s Roadside Diner with Eastwood and Swank sitting at the counter eating a piece of lemon pie.
 - Maybe Miley Cyrus is really not a Christian after all.  She’s got a racy pole-video out, she did that nekkid-back Vanity Fair shoot, all image enhancing efforts to let us know little Hannah’s done-grow’d-up, we’re not in Montana anymore.  But maybe not.  Maybe she’s going through changes that are going to be fraught, fraught I tell you, with achy-broken hearts, but they are all a part of her life's climb and she’s gonna end up with a mansion next to yours just over the hilltop one of these days, in heaven, just down the golden bricks from Anne Rice, and me.
 - Speaking of heaven, maybe we’ll spend eternity singing Matt Redman songs, or crankin’ Third Day, or doing the motions to that awesome Rich Mullins tune.  But maybe not.  Maybe M-W-F will be filled with Pavarotti and T-Th with Emmylou Harris, with Saturdays being devoted to Chicago.  Sunday mornin might be Johnny Cash and evenings could be the Ave Maria a capella.  That’d be nice, huh? Of course, it being heaven, we could probably make special requests, like a Judy Collins' tune or two.
 - And maybe church is people gathered together under something, a roof or lean-to, and scripture being read, folks sharing about life, a little wine, a little bread, amen.  Then again, maybe not, or at least maybe not always.  Maybe it might also be something along the lines of Chardin’s saying Mass upon the altar of the world, divinizing the day, driving on past the Sunday morning assembly and having breakfast with your family or friends at Cracker Barrel, laughing, joking, catching up, some biscuits, a little more coffee, leaving the waitress a graceful tip…or even walking around the lake outside town by yourself, chewing juicy-fruit or Copenhagen, watching for sparrows that might fall, humming a Bieber tune, smelling sage.

I realize maybe is a sandy word, it grits at the heart of certainty, the rock upon which wise men build their houses.  That’s fair.  But I remember reading somewhere that we see, when we’re looking at all, through a glass darkly; in other words - maybe, maybe not.  That phrase can leave you all shaky, nervous, closed, or it could swing wide open the door to wanton permissiveness, all-roads-lead-to-Rome, no rules-easy rider, don’t-stand-for-something-fall-for-anything.  But maybe not.  It could open us up to a life that’s attractive, inviting, trusting, faithful, shot straight through with the grandeur of the Grace that keeps this world…in a word, sorta, well, sweet. 

But then again, too much sweet can rot your teeth, make your zits go nuclear, and lead to an early onset of diabetes.  So never mind.  Just never mind. 


  1. good post, thanks.
    sounds like a good read, this book.

    grits at the heart of certainty...
    how can anyone not like that line.

  2. I do believe you do more with a hyphen than just about anyone I know.

  3. John, this is so crazy you wrote on this today. Just was talking to a buddy last night over a beer about East of Eden. Steinbeck basically wrote the book based on the notion of Timshel, in the book it means "Thou Mayest." Steinbeck writes through his characters (as they discuss Genesis chp. 4:1-16) that they have choice as to what they will do with their life. Thou mayest on the one hand, Thou mayest not on the other. The great decider is man. Not predestined by God, nor ruled. Choice. Obviously the word remains pregnant and in need of many more beers to get at it, but I like it alot!!

  4. beautiful blog..pls visit mine and be a follower.. thanks and God bless..

  5. One of the foundations of the Christian faith is certitude... why, it's one of the the three legs of the three legged stool Jesus sits on.

    So all this talk about "maybe, maybe not", well, what kind of grab assed operation you got runnin' here, John?

    Next thing ya know, you'll be sawing off the other two legs of the stool... everyone knows that "looking right and actin' right" hold up all that is good.

    John, are you even a Christian???!!! I mean, c'mon. Get with the program, John.

    It's ONE thing for you to live in indecision, but quite another for you to SPREAD it around, like it's some kind of good thing.

    It's guys like yo who lose their way, and have to ask Jesus what to do, how to be, what to think. Guys like you, if weren't for Jesus would be COMPLETELY LOST... you'd have to ask for directions, and maybe even a MAP.

    No, John, you need to be like the rest of us... we don't hafta ask Jesus for NOTHING; He left us the Bible, and that's all we need.

  6. Miska,

    Thanks for stopping by...I hope you're doing well!

  7. Mark,

    That's cool...yes, 'thou mayest' is a great rendering...I didn't know the word was the basis for East of Eden, but it makes perfect sense...wish I could be there for those beerversations...

  8. Vern, somedays I feel like the fool I am...

    A part of me says some of this has to do with that 'stages of faith' stuff, certainty being a good thing on the front end/getting started, but as you grow, so does your faith/ in my 40s there's enough love around my handles to say 'maybe, maybe not'...I'm not sure I could honestly say that in my six-pack 20s...make any sense?

  9. Anonymous1:48 PM

    Whether I agree wholeheartedly or not your posts always provoke much thought...maybe that's as you intend?
    I always reflect on my childhood after reading your blog. Generally on the simplicity of times gone by, specifically on a granny who was the definition of grace and wisdom. She left rare jewels stuck in my mind like "pretty is as pretty does" and "it'll all come out in the wash" and "It's always right to be kind".
    I'm thinking maybe she'd appreciate your blog too.


  10. Jamie, your granny sounds like a character, that's the best kind...thanks for taking a moment to comment.

    That I might provoke even a smidgen of thought is hard evidence for something called grace.

  11. And John, somedays I only feel sad that there isn't more here, your words and this voice and that echo we hear if we really are listening, and I am glad that you really do mind.

  12. I liked this so much. And I agree, maybe about sums it up. I don't think of it as doubt. I believe it's actually more secure cause I don't know, and that's ok.
    Thanks for writing.