Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Shirking Responsibility

"Perfect Harmony"
- Outside the Desert Retreat House -

In my reading yesterday I came across this very thought-provoking observation by the theologian, Daniel Maguire:

We are a spoiled species that seems hell-bent on wrecking the earth that cradles us
and are well on into the demonic suicidal project.
It is an alluring temptation for the likes of us to imagine 
a divine superbeing with parental passions 
who is both omnipotent and all merciful 
who will make everything 'right' on earth as it is in heaven

I have come to the point in my life where I never pray for divine intervention any longer - petitioning "God" to fix all the problems in my life and in the world. For one thing I don't think of "God" as a divine superbeing regardless of how nice or how benevolent "He" may be. When I use the word "God," I think: "Abiding Presence" - an intimate life-giving energy at the core of all that is. 

I believe this Holy Presence is indeed with us but I don't believe in a"God" who fixes or makes it all better - I think that's our job as human beings.

In fact when I read Daniel Maguire's observation yesterday I was suddenly struck by the fact that praying for God to make it "right" may even be a dangerous thing.  

The oceans and air are being gradually poisoned. The climate is rapidly changing, making it harder and harder for life to thrive on this planet. The world is racked by war, poverty, hunger, inequality and homelessness. People suffer from addictions and broken relationships as rampant consumerism eats away at the very fabric of our civilization - no doubt about it, there are many things about this world that need repair, reconciliation, healing, cleaning up. 

But there is a real sense in which asking some benevolent outside superpower to make it all better is a "cop out"- it gets us "off the hook," it is an excuse by which we human beings can shirk our responsibility to care for the earth and hold one another up.

I am always amazed when I listen to some of the more vociferous conservative evangelical preachers bemoan the fact that America is becoming a godless nation, urging everyone to get down on their knees and pray; and then they publicly ridicule the dangers of climate change and condemn efforts at cleaning up the air or ocean as bad business for a capitalist agenda. 

I have often shaken my head in church when people have petitioned God to restore peace in times of war or terrorism and then those very same people go home and beat their kids or gossip about the neighbors they sat next to in church when those prayers were being said.

Daniel Maguire suggests that it is adolescent to think of God as a daddy who will make the world "right" if we just ask him to do so. I agree.

The world is made better by each and every one of us assuming our moral responsibility to make it better -by voting for people who will promote ecological healing, by recycling our trash, by conserving water, by our own everyday personal acts of compassion and kindness, by our efforts to reconcile broken relationships. These are our responsibilities as human beings. 

"God" is with us - "God" can't do it for us.  


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