Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Streams in the Desert

'dread pirate roberts" makes a good point, and raises a valid question. I answered it in the comments, but thought it deserved a more "public" airing:
you are on a roll. i kinda translate a lot of your posts into what i can get, as a member of the bigger community. ethics, morality, responsibility, personal response to other's needs, altruism, politics.....i'm with you. and i do appreciate, as a participant, the spiritual dimension of a group, congregation in your lexicon i suppose, chanting or singing together so that all breath together. con gusto helps. dancing too. also seems to work for deity-based as well as non theistic groups.

i do wonder though what you think will happen to those of us who don't believe that a day of accounting is coming, and how you balance your belief in that reckoning with your respect for us.

I had a neighbor once who was the kindest, most generous, most caring person I have ever known. He worked on my house, did carpentry for the other neighbors, fed all the animals around him. The squirrels ate out of his hand. Spiders lived in his windows inside the house, because he wouldn't kill them. They didn't have hospitals, ambulances, welfare, any help, he explained; so he couldn't bring himself to make their lives harder. He climbed high into my trees to trim them, built decks and fences for friends and neighbors, charging nothing for his labor, lived simply, and was unfailingly friendly to all he met.

In short, he was a textbook "Christian."

Except he was an avowed atheist, and used to discuss the subject of religion with me whenever we had the chance. He disagreed with me, but was never disagreeable, and I never tried to change his mind. In sermons, later, after I moved to go to seminary and beyond, I'd use him as an example of a "Christian." Because he was, whether he confessed Christianity or not. Do I mean he was "saved"? Not in the usual narrow sense; but he was saved from much of what confines and binds and traps the rest of us. He was saved, as far as I've ever been concerned. And if there is a heaven (my doubts are based on metaphysical issues more than anything else) and he's not there; then it won't be heaven as I understand it, and I won't want to be there, either.

The question is always: did you think about what you could do to help? If you did, justice will uphold you. If you didn't, justice will question you, perhaps even judge against you. I don't want to see that happen, but to believe in justice is to believe in judgment. I'd rather believe in helping people, and let justice roll down like waters, bubble up like streams in the desert, and make all the dry places blossom, and green with life. Life into the ages.

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