Saturday, August 29, 2009

Don't Make Us Sing

Psalm 137.

1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.

2 There on the poplarswe hung our harps,

3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"

4How can we sings songs of the Lord whilein a foreign land?

Habakkuk 1:

2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!"
but you do not save?

3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.

4 Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.

I'm alone tonight, have been pretty much all week. The wife and daughter were at the beach all week and tonight the wife is at a wedding. They were both here yesterday and I had the kido to myself for a couple hours tonight, we had fun, but she's in bed now and (except for the giant dog parked on my lap) I'm alone again. I don't like myself when I'm alone. I'm never sure what to do, tonight I decided on some surfing. I came across the blog I linked to above and now I'm here trying to express to you what I felt watching it. It may be that I've been on the verge of emotional for the last few days anyway, but when they kept the camera on that kid towards the end of the video, something broke in me. I think its because I've felt most of the things written on his face. There was such sadness and confusion and fear and, somewhere just below the surface, anger. When I take the church mask off I often find that to be the face I wear.

If you're going to understand where I'm coming from it's important to realize, and I think both of you do, that for me there a two very distinct spiritual times in my life. When my father was alive and since. A lot of the questions posed by events such as Katrina I dealt with in a personal way with the passing of my father, I thought I understood how that works. I thought that until Katrina, as a watched footage of that tragedy I couldn't help but feel like Habakkuk. How could God cause, or by inaction allow, that kind of devastation? I understood, again, how that could leave gaping holes in some people's theology. I think the easy answer is that the existence of such feelings points to a being created in the image of a God who is just. Without God where do we get ideas like justice and equality and fair play. These are certainly not things we see in nature. Nature is about power and ability, the strong get to evolve and the weak are devoured. Surely we did not learn compassion from such a place, the natural world teaches nothing of justice or fair play. If you crave those things I think you are forced to concede that you must be created in the image of a God who embodies those things. So we are forced to conclude there is a God and that he sometimes does things that don't seem right to us. The question becomes, how do we respond?

Some people call what happened in New Orleans justice? I couldn't disagree more. About a year after Katrina we went on a cruise that left out of New Orleans, and I got to see the devastation with my own eyes. That was not justice. The innocent died there side by side with the guilty - the guilty survived with the innocent.

I can't remember where I was going with all that. We live in a fallen world, the sin we choose takes lives every day. Sometimes it looks like justice - more often its just tragedy and despair. The world is dark, but the dawn is coming. I think it goes back to the question Ker Gire asks that I use on the top of this page, "How will we wait"? What will we do as we advance towards dawn?
You can see the answer in videos of Katrina's aftermath - in footage of 9/11 and the war on terror. You see it in hospital rooms and nursing homes and restaurants - in neighborhoods, stadiums, and churches. We do all that we can. We rescue. We are heroes. We fight. We show compassion. We live. We build. We give. We love. We sing.

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