You hear it a lot: “How can a (supposedly) good God allow that _______ to happen?” Fill in the blank: shooting, murder, tsu-nami, school attack, suicide bomber, etc. People rail at God who they think should immediately wipe all of the “bad people” off the earth and leave the good so that things were perfect! So the real question is: Would you be one of the ones who were left? Whose rules do you actually follow and how hard do you work on your spiritual life? Are you an “only in a crisis pray-er” or do you define faith as a spectator sport while remaining in bed on a Sunday morning? If you answered yes to either of the last questions you would be among the “disappeared”.
I think that we sometimes assume a kind of creative amnesia when we think about how the world should function. If you are a Christian you need to recall, with a degree of sobriety, our past history. Remember, it was there, we had it all. The world was perfect, stunningly beautiful and totally without evil, but we, the human race, blew it! Despite this incredibly sad fact, God in his wisdom did not blow us up right then and there. He actually gave us a redux. The second time around, though, we didn’t get the perfection that was the original gift. Instead of all beauty and no work we now had to do life by the sweat of our brow in an environment that took some effort to survive in. God gave us “free will” a second time and said “go forth and multiply”. Bang, zoom, 2011! So then, we are all linked to this history. It does not matter if you are a believer or not or which religion you practice. Our lineage is the same; we all come from a state of living in a perfect world to living in a space where we have invited pride in. Many might say this was a bad trade, but it is what it is. Here we are in 2011 with all of our human foibles rampant in the world at large. Look around you, the result of human emotion is everywhere, both astoundingly good and frighteningly bad. The issue at hand is what to do with that. The truth is, as a human, the one who is responsible for how the world proceeds is us, you and me. As Pogo Possum (long running cartoon strip) said: “We have seen the enemy and he is us”.
Not me you say! I didn’t invent the Atomic bomb, pornography, liberal gun laws and AIDS is not my fault! This is true, but is does not diminish the fact that each of is still part of the human collective. You can’t get away from that reality. The state of the world, good or bad is basically the accumulated result of human action. This is the underpinning of Catholic Theology which teaches that no sin is private. Any sin by anyone anywhere is an addition to the “collective wedge” which adds to a barrier between us and God. (People who have zero knowledge of the Gospel get a pass.) Mind boggling, isn’t it, and incredibly powerful all at the same time.
This is not to say that in the world there is no hope because so much “self interest” is around. It is to say, though, that we need to refrain from blaming God and taking on anger directed at Him each time we hear of another crazy person with a gun or an innocent child who has been horribly victimized. God handed us the power to react to these things in a way that is empowering rather than stifling. Every time we choose anger, despair, hopelessness, ire, or indignation we actually take the energy and momentum that God has given us and direct it to a place where no fruit is possible. These reactions are all a “dead end” which accomplish nothing and make us feel worse than when we started. It’s what the enemy hopes that we do. Despite how we feel when we are witness to unexplainable disasters and devastatingly bad human actions we need to be in touch with those elements that God himself has included as a “built in” part of our soul. “[T]he crimes of the will to power which sum up temporal history do not prevent the leaven of which Christ speaks from working tirelessly in the human mass. The fire which he came to cast upon the earth is always smoldering and the bloodiest years of history are nevertheless years of grace.” (François Mauriac, † 1970, Nobel Prize winner, Catholic writer) Where evil exists, grace abounds (See Roman’s 5:20). Sin and evil are present in the world because humanity chose pride rather than perfection. “Injustice, the fruit of evil, does not have exclusively external roots; its origin lies in the human heart, where the seeds are found of a mysterious cooperation with evil…. Indeed, man is weakened by an intense influence which wounds his capacity to enter into communion with the other. By nature he is open to sharing freely, but he finds in his being a strange force of gravity that makes him turn and affirm himself above and against others: this is egotism, the result of original sin. Adam and Eve, seduced by Satan’s lie, snatching the mysterious fruit against the divine command, replaced the logic of trusting in love with that of suspicion and competition….” (Pope Benedict XVI as quoted in Magnificat, Vol.12, No.11, January 2011, P. 347)
The real issue in these situations, though, is basically; Who are you in this milieu of good and bad in the world? “We tell in front of everybody who Christ is for us by the way we live the circumstances…. It is in the way we face the circumstances that challenge us that we affirm what [and who] we belong to.” (Father Julián Carrón, professor of Theology at the University of Milan) It is not in declaring how bad or unjust God is for allowing these things to occur. It is a much easier task to take a “broad view” and feel justifiably helpless instead of taking a “narrow view” of self in order to decide what personal action you will take in light of the evil you have just witnessed. The things we can do to respond to evil in the world are not things which would qualify you to win the Nobel Prize. If you are a world leader and are in that kind of position, maybe. But if you are a regular citizen of the world there are things that are entirely do-able which “remedy” evil. As a first priority turn you attention to how you think and speak. What’s the attitude of your heart of hearts? Do you chime in the conversation that affirms that serial killer as an SOB who deserves to die or do you cool down the conversation and mind set by suggesting that people pray for him or how sad it is that a human has come to this conclusion? Do you chime in while others rail about how necessary the death penalty is or do you interject the concept of God’s mercy and our inability to judge because no one but God knows all the facts? When a natural disaster occurs do you bitterly declare “God’s ineptness” or do you serve or donate where you can and/or rally your church or friends to contribute in some way? Next, turn your attention to how you act within your own circle. Do you join in when others ridicule or criticize someone openly? Do you jump right in when the gossip begins? Do you openly shun the poor, homeless and/or anyone you decide is “strange”? Do you report people you know who are openly stealing or cheating? Do you “scam” your employer by not giving an honest day’s work? Do you sleep in on Sunday? Do you argue incessantly with your family? Do you ever lie?
When we think about our personal influence in the world at large, it’s all too easy to take a comfortable fallback position that declares yourself too little to change anything. Think of this, though; The only thing that Eve did was take one little bite of a fruit while totally ignoring God’s express wishes. Have you ever done something similar? You know about the “Butterfly Effect”, right? As a believer it is important that you have a clear understanding of the role that you play in God’s universe. It is never the role of “victim”. Why is this so important? Because there’s evil in the world!
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See more of Kathryn’s work: www.atravelersview.org
Copyright © 2011, Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved.
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|Published by: TH|
|Date: 2011-02-19 11:31:25|
|Published by: Jim|
|Date: 2011-01-29 23:22:55|
|As I read this article it
occurred to me that there
might be one advantage to
being an atheist.
Atheists don't "blame God
or take on any anger
directed at him". They
seem to be perfectly at
peace with the idea that
it is what it is and God
doesn't have anything to
do with it.
Write a comment on this article|