Mar 17, 2008

weight of the world

As I near my next revision deadline I am becoming less and less social, active, less able to write anything except my book. But it's been a week of blows and I had to write. Good blows and bad. Our friend the Rooneys went to Ethiopia to collect their son, their lovely new son, Abenezer Rooney. Another blow: I had another birthday, and the number just sent me over the hump toward another milestone, toward wisdom and experience and crap. Old age.

And there have been a rash of shooting deaths. Mostly gang related, but also just human nature falling apart related. Tonight as I drove home from the library, right at the bottom of our hill were ten cop cars, police tape, and a big detour around the block.

A couple weeks ago a high school football star with college aspirations was gunned down forty yards from his home. Jamiel Shaw's story made it into the papers. I read it and wept. There's just nothing good about this. What good can come of it? And today I read a headline about an 11 year old boy killed by gang gunfire. And some other guy chopped up his brother's basset hound.

I can't bring myself to think of that poor creature. But they're all poor creatures. Our home group is studying N.T. Wright's book, Simply Christian. Wright argues that all religions and cultures show the fact that we all long for justice, spirituality, relationship and beauty. Wright then examines how Christianity makes the most sense of those longings, what God intends to do with them. Wright believes that God's plan for redeeming and rehabilitating the world came to full fruition in Jesus Christ. And now we (should be) bringing God's redemption to all parts of the world by restoring justice, spirituality, relationship and beauty.

To which I reply, "We have seriously dropped the ball, of late."

Wright doesn't believe that the chief end of man is to "get to heaven when we die." Maybe it's a rest stop, but our ultimate destination is back here, to redeem THIS place, because this is where we're going to be for forever.

I have assumed that after death I'll go to be with Jesus in some other place or at least, dimension. But what if we end up back here? Well then, trashing this place or its people, isn't an option.

It kind of makes it my responsibility to be working on redemption now. It kind of makes it my responsibility to join that mentoring program for would be teen writers. Or recycling. Or sending money to Africa to start wells. Or stop being an ass when I drive (That was my Lenten sacrifice and I'm doing pretty well, PTL)

Still, I'm not sure what to do with the cop cars at the bottom of the hill or Jamiel or that basset hound. Except pray they are at the way station, resting up and waiting for the time to return.

"It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, of burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken."It is a serious thing... to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you could see it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. "All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations." CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory


Lisa Milton said...

What a powerful quote - I'm letting it sink in.

Here's to your revision. Hope it is going well.

Paul Burgess said...

Funny I was thinking about violent crime today. The American variety. Clearly demarcated "Bad" neighbourhoods. Over in Europe we don't really have the concept of blocks so the "good" just turns into "bad" more gradually. As a visitor I've walked thru a few neighbourhoods that I started to feel a bit uneasy about and wonder how all this happened...
I very much appreciate your thoughts about heaven. Christ is redeeming all of creation including the Earth.

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