Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A reply from a friend

When I last posted about depressive personalities, the entry was just a copy of an email I had sent to a cleric/friend. Just got his reply and thought it worth sharing:
Thanks for this interesting and thought provoking email.I have no idea if a study of this sort has been made, but it seems so reasonable I would bet there has. Worthy of a good Google search anyway.

The dark and messy nature of the world we are living in has long pestered people of faith, who want very much to believe that we are moving progressively in the right direction. There is profound evidence that we are moving in the right direction and at the same time irrefutable evidence that we are not. We have made huge strides in addressing hunger, clean water, health, freedom, equality, etc (all gospel imperatives) in many parts of the world. At the same time we still hate one another in ever more creative ways, and find more impressive and devastating ways to kill one another daily. Scripture sends us in both directions as well; it is filled with imperatives to kindness and love and forgiveness, but the margins are filled with dire warnings about impending ends.

As to the top down scenario: left to free will alone history has proven that we are not that committed to kindness and love and gospel grace. Free will set the Erie Canal on fire. Federal regulations cleaned it up. Free will set up a society that oppressed women and people of color. Federal regulations made that illegal. The motivation to change the Fed regulations were driven by a collective free will, but others were “forced” to comply. Now, however, there are so many stifling regulations that one could argue that we can’t protect the weak, either collectively or personally. Law of unintended consequence I suppose.

But finally, this is less a political (I use that term politically, acknowledging that all of life is politic) issue and more of a theological one. Where is God? Is God leading us somewhere, and if so, where? How do we know? Where is the evidence?

Interestingly, whether you believe God is or isn’t leading us somewhere, your solution works either way. Whether you have a dark interpretation of the world or one that might be a bit rosier, entering into personal relationships that are honest, forthright, and compassionate is still the only solution I know. I have never been very good at untying the twisty knots of worldly politics. That’s probably why I don’t preach about them much. I do have a pretty strong commitment and ability (although very broken, I admit) to staying in relationship with my brothers and sister who are closest at hand. And I agree completely that it is only our brokenness that binds us, and then we try and crawl out of the mire together.

Personally, I do believe God is taking us somewhere, I do believe there is enormous good in the world and love prevails. It’s that “second naivete”, that “I know the world is busted and dark but I am going to love and work and pray and PLAY anyway”.

God’s peace my brother.


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