Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017.12.31 Threats With Promises

Threats in world many. Each carries promise. Indulge year-end blogger rant in headlines. Bless you.

1. Drugs: far more abundant with cheap choices and more omnipresently aggressive in their demands for attention. It’s hard to say no.
     YET many do, and many heal from addictive disease through medication and therapy, and from love, faith and hope—three unconditional spiritual values. Yes, unconditional.

2. Venomous American political conversation: escalates to violence, government paralyzed, guns more available to more people than ever—and considered indispensable to some. To inject sanity and, godde forbid, love for all, into this environment risky as hell.
    YET good people, political and priestly, keep praying and working for good gun control legislation and an end to violence in speech and action. They are the blood donors, the organs our culture needs.

3. Sex, as in practice thereof and orientation therein: acceptance, no, expectation, that sexual behavior, yes, intercourse, is the normative even for teens, common—and competitive. When did you have your first lay—or get laid? When did you lose your virginity first? When did you have your first smoke, beer, snort—gun? Kiss feared old-fashioned. It may have lost its supremacy as a sign of young, tenderly-cautious, physical attraction-towards-love.
    YET older teens and twenties are engaging in less sex than past generations. No one knows why. Possibly choosing to explore getting-to-know-you love first? Psychological data: females depend on mutually supportive relationships for their well-being. So do men, GLBQIS. Dating around, sleeping around, hooking up, one-nighters can’t satisfy the deep longing for relationship; nor can erections and orgasms.

4. Marriage: uncertain and faraway goal for many. In olden days girls pushed and shoved into it by the fear, no terror, of getting pregnant. Currently, more choice. Birth control seen as  protective, except for STDs, but the safety it provides can hinder long-term relationship security aka marriage.
    YET emotional commitment, whatever one’s orientation, is, yes, still nourishes mind, heart, body, and soul—if nothing else to practice the sanctity of marriage should one choose it in the future.   

5. Technology: broad range of options, bordering on omniscience (Google) and omnipresence (i-phones actually text you to let you know your parents are tracking your whereabouts—true), and omnipotence (Amazon Prime.) These attributes used to belong to God (by whatever name) aka divine Mystery. They still do. Technology unable to provide flesh-and-blood love, unconditional beneficence, or shared audible visible embodied rich laughter. Easy to hide behind emojis.
    YET social media technology does give people a community of understanding, support, advice, accompaniment, and safety.

6. Religion: weak in the northeast; humanism, atheism, secularism viable options; religions fail at apologetics. What does this or that religion mean? Who or what really is God? Christ? Moses? Is there spirituality beyond morality and rules of conduct? Is it enough to be a good person?       
Researcher at Harvard Divinity School, Angie Thurston, calls millennial generation “religiously homeless” in opinion piece by Zachary Davis:“Has Secularism Gone Too Far?”  (Boston Globe, Ideas, 12/24/17) Response letters (12/31/17) unanimously—tellingly— defensive, angry.
    YET secularism thought too rational, pessimistic. Davis identified a mismatch between the job religion is supposed to do and society’s floundering search for that job to be done. The job? Not the preaching of morality, but the steady inspiration of hope, not just in afterlife but now: “. . . a hope that goes beyond reason—to give us the strength to pursue a world beyond reasonable expectations.”  Religion stretches the possible.  Granddaughter asks, with an edge: “Grammy, why do you pray?” “I pray because I love. And because my love is not enough.”

7. Public education: public schools forbidden to teach religion as a cultural phenomenon, as the spawn of great works of philosophy and literature, even some biblical literature and moral principles. Something missing. Separation of church and state necessary good. Still, young seekers in public settings unable to study every blooming thing they wonder about. “Wisdom begins in wonder.” Socrates.  But not in our public schools. Religion not even an elective. Religion condemned as proselytizing to fill its coffers. Good teaching never proselytizes.
    YET  . . . slowly religion and wonderments sneak in and silently infect and inform many curious hearts. The same granddaughter searches on line, not in school. Tries pantheism, atheism, agnostic theism, and many things. Trust God will find her and she will find the Love therein that she seeks.

8. Theology/God: how we think and speak about divinity, factor in sociological analysis. Religions consistently allow one image to dominate, a theological stereotype, a superpower deity who is almighty, transcendent, masculine, and interventionist. Image idolatrous. Limits divinity; limits human spirituality.
    YET traditional theology has always proclaimed God as equally immanent. God lives and moves deep within flesh, strengthening, encouraging and empowering love us to love—no matter what. In this God I trust. In this God possible to love, live, move and have being. For this Christians, this is God Jesus died for—to die and so to live.

8. Spirituality: name for what all humanity deeply craves and often does not find in society or church.
    YET Love discovered available in ditches and trenches, in pews and sewers, on streets and in mansions, in life and in death, and in one’s own lonely unlovely flesh. A woman, struggling for years to create/enhance her own self-esteem, suddenly hugs a friend and sobs:“I’ve just discovered that there is a little piece of God in all of us, and in me, too”
    YET God is Mystery—beyond our words—and small enough to adore them.

9. Personal: beloved husband and wife born on same day three years apart. Wife has seniority. Today both alive and well, bloated with gratitude—also fret, spat and grieve changes and terrors that seem to take away church and country. 
     YET  . . . they can still laugh and hug
    YET . . .  one day both will die and leave this beautiful place and all the people they love.
    YET . . .  there is something more Godde has in mind, they hope. Creation never stops.