Wednesday, April 14

Q. Why then do we live apart from God and out of harmony with creation?

Aha! The Holy Grail of questioning, since the beginning of time! Why do we suffer? And, perhaps less often addressed, why do we make other people suffer?

Actually, there's enough talk out there about why we suffer, and most of it is better than what little I can say. But I am now intrigued by my own question: Why do we, who claim to hate suffering so much, make others suffer?

We could deny that we do, but a question or two to our acquaintances and families would soon set that fib straight. We make others suffer, often.

Why? Why can we not just stop causing pain to others, and live in peace? Sure, there would still be really evil people, who enjoy making others suffer, but much of the little, petty, daily suffering would cease.

The problem, of course, is that we all enjoy making others suffer (or at least prefer our own comfort over theirs). Someone wrongs you quite spitefully, what is your first response? Is it how to get them back? How to make them hurt?

Let's say that I and a coworker are both up for promotions: he has a family to feed, and things are tight, and I am a single living comfortably. But I really want that car I've been saving up for, and so I hint things about my coworker that hurt his chances for promotion. Or maybe I simply start working more overtime, something a family man cannot really do (without sacrificing his family in the process), and by my hard-working devotion to my job, get the promotion? Have I made my coworker suffer? Have I made his family suffer?

Why is there suffering? Because we either enjoy causing it, or do not care about causing it, if it suits our ends. We insist that the world revolves around us. G.K. Chesterton once wrote a response to the question "What's wrong with the world?", which perfectly sums up this problem. Chesterton's answer? "I am."

A. From the beginning, human beings have misused their freedom and made wrong choices.

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Tuesday, April 13

Easter is a time of resurrection. A few weeks ago, I had to go through a kind of death: I had to let myself be helped (something I try to avoid at all costs). A few years ago, I had to submit myself to another death, and commit myself to a church, in spite of much hurt I'd suffered from churches in the past. This week, both deaths were redeemed in a resurrection.

I am still unsure of exactly what this resurrection means, only that a part of me that was dead is now alive, and alive in a different way than it was before.

That in me which used to deny needing help, did indeed die, and was mortified. It is not alive, though still weak, as a desire to allow others to help me. After all, I like helping my friends and am honored to be asked to do so: can I dare to assume that my friends feel any differently? Do I have the audacity to assume that they don't love me enough to want to help? God forbid!

That in me which did not want to be tied to a church for fear of being hurt again, was forced to die, to be committed to a church. This week, it was raised up, and made new. My heart has lain fallow for a year; the field has been barren and choked with weeds. But now the green blade riseth, and the wheat springeth green.

I feel as though someone has torn a veil away from the sky, and I can look out upon Deep Heaven again(though it is more likely that scales have fallen from my own eyes!). I feel as though the sun is shining in my heart, which had been dark and cold for far too long. I have been shown the love of God; I see it (and Him) in those around me. I know that nothing, demons nor angels, powers nor principalities, bad churches or good, friends or enemies, can keep me from the love of God. He loves me for His own purposes, and nothing I do will cause that love to cease.

He is Risen
He is Risen indeed

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Lent is over. I keep seeing chocolate around and thinking, "Ooh, I can't have that, " and then remembering with a burst of happiness that it is Easter, and I am now allowed to feast.

Christ rises, and with Him come all good things. He rises from the depths of the grave, and light, life, and all manner of good things rise with Him. Without Him, there is nothing. With Him, there is everything.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

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More posts from the weekend:

I have gone against my rebellious artistic training, and done something outrageous, something I never thought possible: I have become a sheep.

For the first time, I am beginning to see what it means to have a pastor, a shepherd. For most of my life, I have not done well in churches; I just never seemed to fit. I don't fit in at my current church, in one sense, because there is no "fit". There is, in one sense, nothing to be done in order to fit. Each parishoner is loved for himself. This love has no basis in how much (or little) he sins, or tithes, or participates. He is loved, because God loves him.

I never thought I would trust another human being to guide my religious thought. After all, I am a free, rational being. The Holy Spirit will guide me into all knowledge, right? But I have found that not only can I allow myself to be guided, but I must. If I myself am the final word on my faith, then it is no bigger than I am. If I trusted only in myself to shape my soul, I would believe only in myself (in the Chestertonian sense). So I listen to my eartly shepherd, and to shepherds who came before, all of whom reflect my Heavenly Shepherd, and submit myself to the guiding of the Shepherd's staff. And He leadeth me by still waters.


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I was gone all weekend, so here's two or three days' worth of blogging, all in one day!

April 10th

How do you thank someone for being what they're supposed to be? How do I thank my priest for being what he's supposed to be: a pastor, a shepherd of his flock? I can't, and shouldn't, work to try to pay him back, but what can I do?

I can work to become what I am supposed to be. I cannot pay anyone back out of a sense of debt. I must "pay it forward," out of gratitude.
April 11th

Have you ever had an experience that was so potent as to be mythic, as ordinary as it might have seemed at the time?

Today I attended a sunrise service at my church. It was my job to run up to the sacristy and turn on all the lights as the priest proclaimed "He is risen!" I was all set to do it...and the door was locked. I had to run outside (still holding a lit candle from the procession), and around to the church office. Just as I opened the office door, my candle went out. I couldn't find the light switch, so I stumbled through the office in the darkness. I could see almost nothing, but in front of me, I could hear the church singing. (To finish up the story, I did get the lights turned on, and my priest thought it was hilarious.)

But it struck me that the moment in the darkness of the office is an icon of life. It is dark here, and we cannot see very much. But always ahead, the Church is singing. The dawn is coming. The light is coming.

And the Church sings to guide us home.

Today I shared a meal with a group of good Christian people, and noticed that the final word on anything was whether or not it was "Christian." The final word on The Passion was that it was "Catholic," and so not entirely what it should have been. Lunch was not complete without "The Story of the Jellybeans," a children's evangelistic presentation, associating different aspects of the Gospel message with different colors of jellybeans (with almost complete disregard for historical significance of the colors, I might add).

Two thoughts came of this:

1. Has Evangelicalism failed? Can we now do nothing but repeat the lessons of childhood to each other? Where is the meat? The theology? The doctrine? The history? Has Evangelicalism traded what it strong and lasting for what is easy?

2. Where is the dialogue with other traditions of Christianity? Will Evangelicals always shy away from Catholics? Will Catholics continue to fear persecution from Protestants? We do not all agree; but if this is so, why do we not talk? Why have we abandoned the practice of having councils?

Lord Jesus, forgive us. We have broken Your Body, and have been broken in the process. Heal us.

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