Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Senseless Destruction of War

A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

This was probably not among the most frequently used MLK quotes on Monday, but it should have been. As I have asserted several times, war is the most asinine of human behaviors. And yet we seem incapable of abandoning it, so sure are we that violence can solve our problems. Now to be fair, it does excel at giving that impression, at least momentarily, but those victories never last long. So insanely, we try, try again.

To make matters worse, too many of us refuse to question the purposes for which so many of our brothers and sisters have died. Most recently, a television journalist had the gall to voice his unease with the seeming senselessness of American casualties in Afghanistan while on-air. The outrage was swift and silly; a shining example of our "support the troops" mentality in action, with its mindless cliches and chest-thumping antics more appropriate to devoted sports fans cheering on their favorite team. Sadly, this incident was also an example of denial at its worst and deadliest.

Every war death is senseless, because each is a product of our failure to find better ways of settling differences. Living in denial about this truth might bring us temporary comfort, but it also ensures more destruction and more death.

And not only through the occurrence of future wars. Our insistence that violence can solve big problems inevitably leads us into believing that it can solve personal ones as well. Which is how a silly personal dispute in a movie theater turns deadly. And why too many children choose to express their rage with a gun. And, it must be said on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade, one of the hidden reasons behind so many of us being convinced that abortion is a reasonable solution. We are surrounded by symptoms of the spiritual death of which King warned us. Why do we not heed them?

"It is past time that we recognize this family of the One, this fellowship of the One. They are tired of us ignoring, neglecting, and tarnishing it. This family is our Creator's greatest gift to us and we spit upon it constantly. Enough!"

"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?"

How many of our siblings must die before we finally say "Enough!"?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Listening to Death

Over the last few weeks, I have been moved by the sad, strange tale of Jahi McMath. Last weekend, the county coroner issued a death certificate for her, then released her body into her family's care while they wait for a miracle. Are they delusional, or simply following our communal hatred of death to its logical endgame?

Death is our enemy, the ultimate enemy, and it must be fought at all costs. Or so we tell ourselves. And yet it always manages to win. Despite our grand medical ingenuity, death finds a way. We will no doubt cure cancer someday, and before the celebrations have even begun, we will find ourselves battling some new dreaded disease. Death always finds a way. So perhaps it is time to stop fighting and start listening.

"But what of that which you fear most: death? Yes, the end will come, not just for you, but for this world as a whole. Do not be afraid, for this is a great joy. It is not an end, just part of the process of life. That is not just good, it is wonderful."

Death is neither punishment nor reward, but merely a doorway to something else. We can attempt to block that passage, but then we really would be delusional.

So rest in peace, dear Jahi. May your travels be truly wonderful.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Let Us Begin, Again

Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God – for up until now, we have done little or nothing.

Francis of Assisi spoke these words not at the beginning of his ministry, but near its end. They are not a statement of faux humility or harsh self-criticism. Rather, they tell us that doing God's will is a constant process of renewal.

This blog was created to be a means of promoting a new divine revelation. After I left teaching, however, it somehow morphed into a way for me to continue my classroom ministry. Perhaps such a development was natural, but it was also misguided. I have not been given a divine curriculum to share with you, nor have I been called to create one. My years as a teacher were wonderful; I was able to do good things. But it is time to let go of that experience, as God has other things for me to do.

"I will sing your praises. I will be your voice. I will be your prophet. I will be whoever you wish me to be. Not my will, but yours be done. I am yours."

On a practical level, this means a few modifications are necessary:
  • The Faith Development pages have been deleted. They were my most direct attempts at creating an online version of my old course. I failed to complete them, because that kind of systematic approach to faith made no sense outside the confines of my old classroom. I plan to repost some of the content as a series of reflections, not lessons, during Lent.
  • The Monthly Reading Links posts have been discontinued. They began to feel like a set of reading assignments. And too many of the selections were merely interesting or educational, rather than truly illuminating. While I will continue to share articles within posts and via Twitter, I plan to be a bit more discriminating with my recommendations from now on.
  • And I have resumed publishing posts on a weekly basis. The plan is to do so on Wednesdays, but as this post demonstrates, that plan is subject to the whims of divine inspiration and human bewilderment.

In my first post nearly two years ago, I wrote that I was not exactly sure where this blog would go, but that it was an adventure I needed to undertake. That is still very much the case today. It is a truth both maddening and glorious. So let us begin this adventure once again, for up until now, we have barely gone anywhere.