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

Saturday, March 05, 2011

God is good. But what is man?

It's been several months since my last entry. Houston & being ill require a great deal of work & are exhausting. When I originally began blogging, I thought it would take the place of my personal journal. But my posts became so infrequent, I began keeping my personal journal again: God doesn't mind if I become distracted & head off in another direction & between being ill & extremely medicated, focusing is actually painful. But today I'm trying an experiment. I want my mind to be restored to health as well as my body so perhaps an occasional post will force me to focus & will help heal my mind. (I'm also considering Tai Chi & I've found a dance partner to teach. Dance will help me regain the strength, form & balance I once had. Working with someone will help me push myself.) I must ask one favour of all of you, if I ramble or make no sense or am inconsistent, please let me know. Please help me get well. (Don't worry about my feelings, just tell me the truth.)

In my last post, I left off asking whether God can exist and not be good. There were excellent responses. Kathleen Lundquist's comment comes closest to stating my belief:

If that's the case [that God can be malevolent], then we're all in hell. The choice is between being and nothingness. If God is our Father/the ground of our being, and being is not good, then we may as well just walk off the cliff into insanity.

Even though my life has had & continues to have quite a lot of suffering, I, like many Christians, have always believed & experienced God's goodness: from an early age, I knew there was a huge difference between God & man. By that I don't mean to say that I haven't had struggles w/ God because of the suffering in my life but that ultimately, God has always used suffering to bring me closer to Himself. So how answer such a question? I could share some of my personal experience (& have been willing to do so privately) but then it hit me, if we're accepting God's existence then we must accept His goodness - God & goodness are not two separate things but one & the same thing. So I must ask those who posit God as Creator & evil, when you say you believe in God, just whom, exactly, do you believe in? If god is Moloch, then no, he is not good. Ditto all the demons & idols ever created by human beings. But if God is YHWH, then we're facing a totally different proposition because YHWH is good.

We know the story or can easily learn it by reading the Bible: YHWH, who transcends space & time, creates this world, this reality & chooses to enter into it. He creates Man & is in relationship with them. Man rebels against YHWH but YHWH doesn't leave us as a god would do. Rather, He lets us know there are serious consequences for our rebellious actions & He remains in relationship w/ those who choose to be in relationship w/ Him. Man suffers, creation groans because our rebellion has caused it to be subjected to the chaos from which we were protected. None of us is exempt, no matter how old or young, how weak or strong, no matter how much money we have nor how high our position nor how great our intelligence. We chose rebellion & only God's mercy keeps us from being utterly destroyed. But God uses suffering to prepare a people to receive Him so that YHWH can show us who He is. He finally arrives, a human baby who is also God: God literally places Himself in our hands. And we kill Him. But, though it ought to be, God's death isn't the end of the story. YHWH who has become Man returns from the dead, ascends back to be with His Father, sends us the Holy Spirit who will teach & guide us & promises to come back once we have told the entire world about Him. When that time comes, He will give those who choose to accept it something more glorious than we can imagine: we will be like God Himself (which is what we wanted when we rebelled). Those who reject Him will also receive what they desire, life without Him which, naturally, is suffering. But those who those who choose to become like Him, will no longer suffer. Creation will be perfected, it will be set free from suffering as we have been. In a nutshell (fashioned Drusilla-style) that's the story.

So how can we accept YHWH & not accept the answer we've already been given? We have an enormous amount of power but not so much ability. We are like children who break their toys but don't know how to fix them. Much of our science is dedicated towards trying to fix a broken world. Our social sciences have almost no other purpose. The same is true for much of the work we do these days - most NFPs, NGOs, the United Nations, charities - all mainly exist to fix what is broken but w/o acknowledging that we are the ones who broke it. Too many of us want to accept YHWH (or at least say we do) but don't want to believe that original sin is real. But, if we claim to believe in YHWH then we know we are the ones who broke our world & that we continue to break it. If we claim to believe in YHWH, we must accept the entire story or else we are not believing in God, but rather in some demon or idol. It is not that God is not good, it is that we are not good.

The acquaintance I mentioned earlier once asked me why I follow God. I replied, "Because He is faithful." My acquaintance responded, if a scientist had developed a particularly vicious strain of mice that kept tearing one another apart would I say that scientist was good just because he was faithful? Because of the move & my health, I never had an opportunity to reply. Now I will: if the scientist had given the mice the ability to choose whether or not they would be vicious & even when they chose viciousness he continued to work with them, preparing them for the day when he himself would become a mouse because by doing so & by allowing them to kill Him, he would destroy viciousness & make them able to become scientists like him then, yes, I would say that scientist was good. Having the ability to choose is what makes all the difference. To be able to choose is to have power. God gave us choice. We chose to to rebel against Him, to try to be gods. And we continue to make that same choice. So, in reality, it's not His goodness that is at question but our rebelliousness & our refusal to accept that our actions have consequences - sometimes extremely far reaching consequences. We might ask, why would He give us such power? But once again, we have the answer - choice is the means by which we can become like God: we have to want to become like Him, to choose to become like Him. We might be angry w/ God or think He is loopy for giving us such power but then we must ask ourselves, why do we choose to rebel against the One who is giving us what we want anyway? Why do we rebel against the One who is trying to make us gods?

PS: I undergo my 3rd round of chemo beginning Wednesday. Please pray for me.