Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Being Brutally Honest...

The words came into my semi-aware consciousness from the radio 
on my bedside table..."Christian militias" the reporter on NPR was 
saying, reporting about the on-going conflict in the Central African 
Republic between Muslims and Christians. The seeming incongruity 
of the words stayed with me as I showered, preparing for the day, 
and I could not shake their oxymoronic quality. Christianity, after 
all, is to be a religion of peace, isn't it? a religion which calls for 
love of BOTH neighbor and enemy...a belief system which calls for 
turning the other cheek and caring for the last and least. So how 
has it become a source of and justification for war? When and how 
did we humans come to the conclusion that the only way for me 
to be right is for you to be wrong?And why has that become so 
important? How did we reach this place in human history where 
wielding the biggest stick and having the most toys means you 
win? And win what, exactly?

I found myself going around and around in circles...chewing on 
it...mulling it over throughout the day. Religious wars- another 
seeming oxymoron- are not really about religion at all, it seems 
to me. Rather they- like most, if not all, human disputes- are 
about power...control...property...who is in charge. Religion is 
merely the smokescreen for the inhumanity of humanity...for the 
failure of human nature to live up to its fullest potential...which 
thought led me to thinking about the internecine disputes in our 
Congress which- in spite of the smokescreen of party politics and 
loyalties- can likely be laid at the feet of the skin color of our 
President rather than his politics...but I digress.

Returning to the religious conflict in the C.A.R. between Muslims 
and Christians, I was forced off the pedestal of judgment into an 
honest, critical look at my own values and beliefs. After all, it's 
easy to stand in a place of judgment, to take the high ground 
when at a far remove, but what about when reality comes 
close...into my own life?

I consider myself to be a pacifist; I believe in nonviolence. I also
claim the label of "Christian". Yet if someone were threatening 
the lives of my children, my , I know there is a part of me- a 
deep, dark part, to be sure, well-hidden most of the time- which 
would be capable of very violent acts against him or her, even 
to the point of killing them. So where does that place me on the 
continuum of belief? of being my brother/sister's keeper? of 
turning the other cheek? of offering forgiveness?

All of which is but one reminder to me that the spiritual journey 
is an on-going, continual process...often one step forward and 
two steps back...a struggle with allowing what I really believe 
to be lived out in my relationships with the Divine and with 
those fleshed-out beings who populate my world...a wrestling 
with the difficult questions of justice and compassion and 
inclusion and acceptance and truth and forgiveness...and, 
ultimately, coming once again to the realization that life is and 
will continue to be composed of far more questions than 
answers, and being okay with that. Oh, and knowing I am not 
in it alone. Thanks be to God.

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