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Friday, April 6, 2012

Seeing the un-good on Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, and I'm writing about the seriousness of the human condition. The catchphrase of our times appears to be "I'm spiritual but not religious". Wikipedia calls it SBNR. I get the point. Many people have some type of interest or connection with a reality beyond their own, even though the scientific method is at best unhelpful in that endeavor and at worst disparaging. Meanwhile, it's undeniable that organized Christianity has, and has always had, its problems. I'm not totally turned off by those problems, and despite the stress I actually enjoy tackling some of them; but that's a personal perspective not shared by everyone.

What concerns me, however, is the over-rotation I see toward a shallow panentheism that says -- or acts as though -- everything in the human experience is good and joyful. Ain't so. Yes, the opening verses of Genesis proclaim the Creation is fundamentally good; but Genesis goes on to give a poetic but enlightening characterization of the un-good as well. Scripture is replete with references to fear, oppression, violence, and deprivation. Let's not kid ourselves: the un-good remains widespread in the world today.

Good Friday, even for those who don't buy into traditional Christianity, is an opportunity to set aside the escapist mindset of "Everything is Beautiful", to recognize that some things in our world are intolerably ugly, to proclaim that those things can and should be addressed, and to accept personal responsibility for addressing them -- even if it means self-sacrifice, at least to the extent of spending time in a soup kitchen instead of at the beach. I'm not proposing that our psyches be overwhelmed by the extent of pain and evil in the world but rather that we not delude ourselves by failing to notice it.

Traditional Christians might call this bearing one's cross and ushering in the kingdom of God. If you don't choose to frame it in that way, alright.. but for the sake of the fearful, the oppressed, the victims, and the deprived, please don't ignore the un-good.