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Friday, December 14, 2007

Hope?

I'm pseudo performing a scripture for church this Sunday. For the last several years we have asked members to recite a passages from Isaiah from memory. It is neat because it breathes life into the scripture that you don't get from looking something over for ten minutes before Sunday. The process of living with the passage for a week is conveyed to the listeners.

Here is the first bit from what I'm doing:

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom,
like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of God.
Isaiah continues to give hope to those who hear these words. He is telling them that in the future there will be a better time. A time when the lame will leap like a deer.

Here's the twist, Isaiah was writing in about the Eight Century B.C.E. The people of Judah would be taken into exile. And anyone hearing these words when they were written would not experience Isaiah's vision.

Question: Does hope serve a purpose when tribulation, at least on a national scale, is unavoidable?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A tortured comparison

I have little time, but wanted to comment on the church shooting in Colorado before it became such old news no one remembered. I already had to search CNN for the story.

Among the sad fact of this story are that the twenty-four-year-old shooter killed two teenage girls, he wounded three other people, the church had (and evidently needed) an armed security guard, and the man used his assault rifle to ultimately kill himself. He also quoted Harris and Klebold of the Columbine High School shooting, posting, "I'm coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @.%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill." CNN described this as "the same wording used by Harris, with the exception of symbols used to replace an expletive."

My reaction to this is the same as my reaction to a natural disaster potentially made worse by global warming. [That's the tortured comparison, BTW.] I don't think dramatic quick action will work--banning firearms, banning the names Harris & Klebold, banning black clothes. I also don't think blaming the victims works, church goers or shoreline livers. But I do think there is a climate that should be changed. And I think we as humans have the capacity to do it.

I think caring for the lost and the lonely in our society will require a rainbow of efforts from from parents and friends; psychologists and pharmacists; from teachers and counselors; from places we have not yet begun to look. I think things like this have been going on for a long time, but I think we could do more to stop them.

And just like putting more CO2 into the air and being more efficient is good even if Al Gore is wrong, I think creating or a more compassionate society is good even if it doesn't prevent tragedies like this one.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fifteen Years

On December 12, 1992, Pat & I swore our love for each other, as they say, before God and everyone. We have seldom been accused of being sickeningly sweet with each other, but there is no doubt that Pat's love has been the greatest single blessing in my quite blessed life. Reflecting back on the last fifteen years together brings a smile across my face that cannot sufficiently express the depth of joy and acceptance and pleasure and hope and excitement and pride and wonder behind it.

The grand love that Pat & I share often serves as a starting point for explaining faith. I have faith in God, not like I had faith in the existence of Santa Clause, but like I have faith in Pat. I am transformed by my faith in God the way I am transformed by my love for Pat and her love for me. And mostly, having it so good, has made me think the world is basically good. Even if that notion, like the idea that you could find someone when you were both twenty-one and spend the rest of your life together loving and caring about each other no matter what may come, is basically naive to the point of being embarrassing.