Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What Kind of People?

Between twitter hackers and computer excitement (hd wiped out - lost everything) and two (2) new roommates moving in at about the same time, it has been an amazingly busy several days with little time for writing but perhaps that's not so bad. Thoughts have had free flow and I'm beginning to know what I want to say.

Often, I find myself radically at odds with the world around me. There is that which is obviously wrong and that which is almost going in the right direction but is off, just enough, so that it's obvious it will not reach the goal. And then there is that which has no real goal in mind but only likes to be with the "winning" team. I certainly have no patent on all or much of anything that is right. All I have is what I might call an interior compass that pokes at me when things are off and it's been poking and jabbing a lot recently. We know there are some major problems in our country and can delineate what many of those problems are. But those problems are too often with others and not with ourselves. And that's deadly. Because even if we do "fix" the problems within our government and schools and families we will have only replaced one set of problems with another; joyless puritanism could easily replace sterile licentiousness in our culture.

In my current reading of the Bible as if it is one book (and I didn't even skip through the Wisdom of Solomon - a dreary read), I am in the midst of Isaiah, "the Book of Consolation," which consists of the chapters numbered 40 and higher. God's people, who have been in exile, are coming home. When I studied the Book of Isaiah, exile had come as a result of Israel's failure to care for widows and orphans and the strangers in their midst. Studying under Anglicans in the mid 1990s, Isaiah was a book about the results of social justice first and then idolatry. Certainly both are central themes but this time I discovered another theme that permeates the book and cannot be escaped: Israel's lack of gratitude. It is their failure to thank God that leads them to idolatry: Israel must be grateful to the living God so as to withstand the immense temptations to idolatry that surrounded them in every other country and culture. It is their failure to thank God that leads them to social injustice: Israel must be grateful to God so as to remember that they came from no people and God has made them His people, that they were once wanderers in need of help and God helped them. Unless Israel remains mindful that all they are and have comes from God, unless Israel is faithful in thanking God, they will return to idolatry and social injustice and exile.

The Civil War was fought to determine whether the Union would be preserved. We are in a war now, not to preserve our Union but to determine what kind of people we will be. Thus far, this war has been dramatically different and I beg you to plead with God that it continue without anymore violence than we have already experienced. This country has much in common with pre-exilic Israel. We were founded as a place to worship God in peace. Our Constitution and our laws exist so as to prevent governemnt from interfering with us worshiping God.* How we worship HIm varies to a greater or lesser extent depending upon our religious faith, but even the founding fathers would have admonished us to thank God at all times and in all ways. To thank Him for preserving us. To thank Him for endowing us with such bounty. To thank Him for giving us a home where we can worship Him in peace. And if we are to win this war, I mean really win it, we must become The People Who Thank God. Though the world think us crazy, we must thank God. Whatever the cost, we must thank God. Regardless our denominations and other differences, we must thank God.

Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for when he was but one I called him, and I blessed him and made him many.
For the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.
"Listen to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go forth from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples.
My deliverance draws near speedily, my salvation has gone forth, and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be for ever, and my deliverance will never be ended.
"Hearken to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of men, and be not dismayed at their revilings.
For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my deliverance will be for ever, and my salvation to all generations." (Isaiah 51:2-8)

* It is silly to imagine that the founding fathers would have had any patience with the argument that what is worshipping God to one person is, to another, a woman's right to choose and that the latter must take precedent. The founding fathers were steeped in Natural Law: any woman who sought to kill her own child would have been considered, at best, mad, at worst, possessed.

1 comment:

Randy Beeler said...

Amen, sister. You are strongly in the theological and natural-law tradition of Abraham Lincoln and Pope John Paul the Great (see his 1995 Address to the UN).

Thank you for this post!