Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Give Mother Nature Her Due, Or Else

And so another Earth Day has come to pass. But it's not like we need a special date on the calendar to be reminded of our impact on the environment:

Perhaps my favorite quote on this subject came from Al Gore earlier this year: "It's like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation on the news every day now." Unintended though it may have been, there is an important lesson to be had from such apocalyptic imagery. We need to stop pretending that environmentalism is us doing Mother Nature a favor, when it is really all about our own self-preservation.

"The greatest lie, the greatest scam of our lives is that this world was created for us, for our pleasure and enjoyment, for our dominance. What stupid, arrogant animals we are. We were created for it. We are simply the audience."

What makes us truly arrogant little monkeys is the notion that we are an irreplaceable audience. How many messages to the contrary must the Landlord deliver before they finally penetrate our obliviousness? Yes, we are beloved children of our Creator; that guarantees us eternal life, not a permanent spot on this particular rock. This planet will do just fine without us, once we have all bitten the dust like the dinosaurs. But will that day come about through our own hands? That is the question.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Love & Good

No more hurting people. Peace
Martin Richard wrote these words for a school project many months ago. And almost immediately after the young boy's death at the Boston Marathon, his words went viral on social media, as a sort of collective plea for a world free of violence. A noble desire, but one that will continue to go unfulfilled. Why? Because we are not willing to do what it takes to make such words and hopes into reality.
But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
These are words we do not want to hear, especially right now. Love those who made bombs to maim and kill? Show them mercy and compassion? Bless them and pray for them? Yes, that is what we are called to do, for it is the only remedy that will work.

"Our brother calls us to love, love God, love your neighbor, love. How hard is that? What are you afraid of? If he was willing to die to love you, what’s your excuse for not loving those you fail to understand, those you despise, those you hate?"

I shared similar thoughts after Aurora and Newtown. I will do so again after the next community suffers from our love of violence, and the one after that, and so on. I am under no illusion that anyone will actually listen; we've ignored Jesus for two thousand years after all. But truth is truth, whether we want to hear it or not.

Yes, love is stronger than hate, and good will triumph over evil in the end. Many of us have spoken of these truths since Monday. But they are not magic talismans to ward off the bogeyman. Jesus had to die, brutally, before the Easter we are in the midst of celebrating could happen. Living that Truth requires a whole other vantage point.

"From your perspective, you see love and hate, good and evil, right and wrong. I see what is and what will be, and what I see is love and good, always."

Are we willing to embrace that kind of love and good? Are we willing to go wherever they demand we go? Even if that means loving those who killed Martin Richard?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Peace Be With You

There is a certain kind of irony to life in that just as the Church is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the papal encyclical "Pacem in Terris", the world should be subjected to the saber-rattling of North Korea. Pope John XXIII shared a vision that "projected a world where peace would be achieved by governments dedicated to the fulfillment of human rights." Kim Jong Un is teaching lessons "about the value of having a nuclear weapon or two." So which of these two men is the crazy one?

I say we are the crazy ones. We chase a peace that will never come, while dismissing one easily within our grasp. Peace is not some utopian way of life that we can talk or kill our way into. It is a state of being that comes from placing absolute trust in Love, and that manifests itself most purely in the love of our enemies.

"Our brother calls us to love, love God, love your neighbor, love. How hard is that? What are you afraid of? If he was willing to die to love you, what’s your excuse for not loving those you fail to understand, those you despise, those you hate?"

Yes, we must fight injustice. Yes, we must reject violence. But simply because that is what love demands, not because doing so will bring about some magic land of peace and justice. Love calls us to tilt at windmills, and to do so joyfully.

"It is time for us to embrace our family, even though we will fail, and probably fail miserably. This is another paradox of our Creator. We can never truly be one family in this life and yet they compel us to try, they demand that we make the attempt."

And therein lies the key to peace: we are family. It is a truth more profound than any encyclical and more powerful than any atomic bomb. A truth we proclaim with a Kiss, and not a kiss that says, "I will tolerate you," but a kiss that says, "You are my brother, my sister, and I love you." A truth that reveals that the Kingdom we crave has been right in front of us all along, if only we would trust in it.

"So much of life is a paradox, but it is there that we find God the most. It is there, in the confusion and that mess that we must dwell. It is there that we experience true beauty, true joy. It is there that we can see something wonderful, something that sends a chill down our spine, and puts a smile on our face and a laugh in our heart, where we know with certainty who and what we are and why we are here in this time and place. It is in that moment that we are at peace."

Peace is not a grand dream, but a simple love. Peace be with you.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Birds & Wildflowers

I find myself at a loss for words today. I have plenty of topics and ideas to write about, but they all feel trivial right now. We scurry around day after day trying to build … what exactly? In my mind, I keep hearing Jesus speaking about how God takes care of the birds and the wildflowers, so we can trust God to take care of us as well. But we don't trust, so we scurry and build instead. And I am no better than the rest, babbling on and on when it's all so simple. What exactly am I trying to build?

"Why do you babble so much about me? So much time and energy, for what purpose? What more is there to understand about us than love? You think too much and feel too little. You talk too much and love too little. It is the curse of your consciousness. You can see enough to open the door, but not enough to find your way through it. Close your eyes and the path will be illuminated soon enough."

There is something breathtakingly wonderful surrounding us. If birds and wildflowers can trust in it, why can't we? Stop building, close your eyes, and see.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monthly Reading Links

"Francis, Poverty, Aggiornamento, and the New Evangelization"
David Cloutier, Catholic Moral Theology

"A Place at the Table"
Brian Doyle, America

"Loving the Broken, or How the Church Becomes Real"
Ryan Duns, The Jesuit Post

"He was transformed by Mozart"
Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times

"Habemus a View from Rome"
Eric Ramirez, The Jesuit Post

"In memory of Jack Beasley, a guy you may not have noticed, but should have"
T.J. Simers, Los Angeles Times

"A father-daughter dance — in jail"
Emily Wax, The Washington Post

Please follow me on Twitter (@jwbidwell) for additional reading recommendations.