Saturday, April 20, 2013

 

A Rough Week Touched by Hope

This week has been a bit of a blur. We've all been a bit overwhelmed by circumstances and news events, some of which are quite beyond our control. I haven't quite been sure how to put things into perspective lately. My heart hurts for friends in West (and for another friend in Tennessee), my mind swirls with a hundred possible scenarios to make that hurt go away, and yet I know that sometimes life just has pain. There was also tragedy of an evil kind in Boston, yet the end result of that one is a bit more positive.  The people who caused that horror have been captured or brought to justice. In the middle of these negative and sometimes overwhelming realities, I find that hope seems to come slowly like the sun at dawn. It peeks over the fog and the dark clouds of the night. It seems almost timid, not sure whether or not to make its presence known.  Eventually, the bright light pierces some part of the darkness. That little bit of light brightens the space, makes it seem lighter, more accessible.

Hope has been like that to me the past few days. By God's grace I see hope peeking into the dark times of life. The sun has not fully risen to its zenith, but there is a shaft of light shining into a dark place, making it livable and alive. In the midst of this darkness, I have taken solace in some music. One song that has encouraged me is "Take Me Away" by Sarah Kelly. It can be found on her album by the same name. Here are the lyrics:

no more weary teary eyes
just sunny skies
never have I felt so alone
my how I've grown
maybe that's the way it's supposed to be
as I'm walking down this street
maybe if it's just you and me
we'll never even miss a beat
maybe

Take me away
Take me away
All that I love is you, is you

captured by your love
I'm such a fool for you
the day you laid your hand upon my heart
tore my world apart
there's been so many times that I have prayed
to hear you speak my name
and though I've never seen you face to face
I search for you everyday

Take me away
Take me away
All that I love is you, is you

come what will and come what may
I know your love will remain
through the joy and through all the pain
I surrender and it makes me want to fly

Take me away
Take me away
All that I love is you, is you

I have this sense that God is there. He cares. I want to run away to him, to be in his lap for a few minutes. I want the ugliness of this fallen world to disappear, just for a minute. I want to experience the joy of life without any evil. I know that a day will come, a day unlike any other, a day when we can tread streets with no names and find what we are really looking for. That hope is what drives me today. I'm in a bit of sorrow over the recent events: bombings, explosions, friends facing hard times, friends in distress over sickness, etc.  I'm not depressed, really, just sad that the ugliness of this world causes the death of so many who are too young to die. Whether it is an 8 year old child or a 26 year old adult, death and tragedy all too often seems to invade our existence here in this fallen world.   

I guess we shouldn't be surprised, but then again neither should we despair.  God is beyond these tragedies, and he died for this fallen world.  His goal is redemption and renewal.  He is there. I turn to him, he is my hope. Without him, it just isn't worth the work, it isn't worth the effort, I'd just stay in bed.

Thanks to God for hope, thanks to God for his inexpressible gift! The sun will rise, life will continue, good will happen. Joy comes in the morning. I look forward to joy, and I pray for those who can't see it right now.  May they soon see the sun peeking out of the clouds of their tragedy to shine the light of God's great kindness into the darkness of their world. Father, soothe the heart burdened with grief, give comfort to those who have suffered loss, and show your great grace to those on the verge of giving up.  Lord, come quickly and make yourself known.  Bring the joy that only you can provide.  We need your light! 

Blessings, my friends, thank you for reading! 

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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

 

In Remembrance of the Holocaust

Recently we remembered a sad page in the history of humanity when we celebrated a day of remembrance for the tragedy known as the Holocaust.  Perhaps like me, you recalled the liberation of the prison camp Dachau among others from the nightmare of Nazi oppression and thuggery.  It is not a thing of joy, but nonetheless I try annually to remind myself of the depth of depravity to which humanity can slip, even humanity that justifies its inhumanity and brutality by science. The Nazis showed the dark beastial side of humanity, the side we all have to some degree (although most of us will never admit it). The Nazis were more than thugs or brutes or even barbarians, they were humans that (in C. S. Lewis' words from The Abolition of Man) were humans without magnanimity, "men without chests." Here are Lewis' own words about such people:

"They are not distinguished from other men by any unusual skill in finding truth nor any virginal ardour to pursue her. Indeed, it would be strange if they were: a persevering devotion to truth, a nice of intellectual honour, cannot be long maintained without the aid of sentiment . . . It is not excess of thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so." (C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001, p. 25).

These Germans were not less human than the rest of us, they just acted as people without that emotion that makes our "better angels" show up instead of the "brutes" in each of us. They became the "elites" who judged other races in humanity as mere brutish nature to be studied. They were Social Darwinists who wanted to keep their race pure, and who ultimately participated in that which Lewis deems "the abolition of man." They were people like us. In many ways we hate to admit, they were us. As one survivor records the event of his liberation:

"The full record of the pseudo-medical experimentations came to light. Prisoners had been used as laboratory animals, without the humane restrictions placed on vivisection. Hannah Arendt suggested that `the camp was itself a vast laboratory in which the Nazis proved that there is no limit to human depravity.' For it was remembered that these experiments were not planned or conducted by identifiable psychopaths. They were performed or supervised by professional scientists, trained in what had been once considered peerless universities and medical schools. Reverend Franklin Littell called them `technically competent barbarians.' Indeed the procedures had the full approval and cooperation of Berlin's Institute of Hygiene." (Sachar, Abram L. The Redemption of the Unwanted. New York: St. Martin's/Marek, 1983, pp. 8-10)

Let us remember with sadness the number of innocents lost and the reality of our own potentially brutish nature. Let us not forget that without grace, we are all irredeemably lost. Could Dachau or Auschwitz happen again? Only if humans let it, only if we deny once again our own humanity and treat our fellow humans as mere animals or brutes. Yes, it can happen again. Let's pray that it doesn't. Let's make sure it doesn't.

This topic is heavy and sad. I don't apologize for that, but I do want to put the weight down now.

Thanks for reading.

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