Friday, March 20, 2009

Lenten Voices: Part II. "Because it works"

By Jayme Hegelson

If my first two blog posts have been overly negative toward the Christ it is because I believe faith demands it. Faith is entirely dependent on history and history's atrocities thus need to be acknowledged and scrutinized. This history of God's bloody role in the human narrative simply should not be ignored.

But while I have focused on these essential issues of justice I would be out of balance not to acknowledge that my form of justice just doesn't seem to get the results I would hope for. In my every day life, my form of justice doesn't seem to generate much hope at all! So there is another history I want to look at and that is the history of this thing we name 'love'.

I have only recently come to learn more about what love is like and it has come by experiencing the love of many ordinary people in my present day life. My best friend brought me soup when I had the flu, my best friends from St. Paul's joined me to usher in the rein of our Lord and Saviour Mr. Hussein Obama. I believe I can live a life of love and abundance because I have seen others live such a life. So I've tried to live my life similarly and lo-and-behold, my life got better! It started working! It became enjoyable! I even get a natural high from the thing. I have seen love work to my overall betterment and good. My understanding of the gospel has changed with my everyday powerful experience of love.

Similarly, the story of Jesus and his passion have been passed down generation after generation precisely because the truth and power of his love. We don't read the 'Good Spell' because it came from God but because it works, because it is effective. Because our lives get better from reading and living it. The chief reason that Jesus' life came to such a violent end is because the workings of human justice came into direct conflict with this 'new way' that Jesus effectively introduced to us. That way is love. Jesus loved us literally to his death. Think of that: He went to his bitter end on the cross and never quit his annoying habit of loving the crap out of everyone around him! Jesus and a great many other prophets have long held that love is more powerful than the sword but in Jesus' time as in ours we seem to be stuck in an 'eye for an eye' mentality. My first two blog posts of this series are testament to my attachment to this form justice. And while I believe a passion for justice isn't misguided the simple fact of the matter is demanding justice for every wrong, indeed for any wrong, just doesn't end up working very well. We see this debate still working itself out on the world stage of politics as Bush and now Obama try to figure out just what kind of retribution we need to dole out in the interests of national security. World and national governments still believe that justice in the eye-for-an-eye ethic is necessary if not very wise. Is it?

I would challenge the reader that our politicians' and our governments' ethics are direct reflections of our own. It is a Seattle tradition to distance ourselves from government and from those evil people in Washington. But I believe we have no one to blame but ourselves if Bush decided to invade Iraq and Obama continues the tradition by shooting the hell out of Afghanistan. While it may be naive to believe that killing and war in any form are carte blanch wrong/ineffective for a government to engage in, still it is we who enact this killing even if we are a few steps removed from the action in Iraq or the shenanigans of Gat-Mo. I am reminded of a Presbyterian pastor's sermon in Scotland not long ago when I there studying Philosophy for a semester. He and a bunch of his blokes joined hands in some icy bay in the N. Sea to symbolically block an American nuclear sub from docking at a British naval yard. He believed in Jesus ethic of love over the eye-for-an-eye mentality and went swimming. I thought he was stupid but the fact is this man had great integrity when it came to living out the actions that love required of him.

For whatever faults I personally find with what I think Jesus did NOT do during his life, these faults pale in comparison with the mission and singular focus of Jesus' life: to introduce this 'new-way'. It is a way that can and does transform the world and ourselves. And it's functionally easy to achieve. We just need to follow and copy those more experienced than us in loving well. Those people do exist and thankfully are found in abundance. Also, there's plenty of dead ones to read about and look at too; they line the walls of our church and our babies love to touch them when they're acting up at Mass.

Jayme is a is a 30 year-old St. Paul's parishioner hailing from Montana who loves skiing and hiking in the Pacific Northwest.

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