Sunday, April 20, 2008

Que cera cera

I would like to begin with yet another apology. Sorry I misled everyone by titling my last blog, "The shortest blog I've ever posted," or something along those lines; I realized soon after that it was in fact one of the longest ones I've ever written. Haha. Whoops?

Anyway, so ends the weekend. Tomorrow it's back to school, back to the cyclical battles of will with the kids, back to trying to make the ABCs less repetitive and more fun, back to trying to convince our kids that the ability to read and write is the beginning of success and the end of dependence.

Or is it? Well, maybe. Yes and no. Yes, if you place the emphasis on free will, the idea that man has some control over his destiny. No, if you prescribe to the tenet of predestination: God has already ordained everything that will come to pass, so if the kids are destined to get out of poverty, off the island, or go where ever it is they identify with success, then they will; if that's not in the cards, so to speak, then they're stuck.

But isn't it a little fatalistic to adhere to the latter? It's sort of like going through life with your hands clamped tightly over your ears and singing loudly that really annoying song that Doris Day sings in that one Hitchcock film, "Que cera cera, whatever will be, will be" and so on. The future's not ours to see and so who cares? If we're meant to be rich, beautiful, poor, ugly, then we'll be it; if our kids are meant to be financially well off, if they're meant to marry and have children and have jobs and be happy, if they're meant to transform the island into a place of spiritual and moral as well as physical beauty, then it will happen. But if they're meant to live the remainder of their lives dependent on someone else to care for them, if they're meant to live in plastic and aluminum shacks, if they're meant to be lucky enough to have one meal of rice a day, then so be it. Que cera cera. Then it won't matter if they can diagram a sentence or spout off multiplication tables. All that will matter is that they can survive. (And is that all that matters? Survival? Nietchsze would say that the only noble way to live is to get out of life completely, but that's another blog for another day....)

I guess it could be likely that a lot of our kids may end up living in poverty after they leave the home, that is, if they don't get adopted before they're old enough to leave. (And not that being financially well off is the key to happiness, obviously...look at America, look at Friendswood...we can be impoverished and downtrodden and still be profoundly, spiritually wealthy). But to say that, to say that because the odds are against them, that because maybe their fates are already foreordained and written in the stars or whatever, we can write them off is not right either. In fact, it's pretty close to flat out wrong as you can get. So I guess what I'm getting at or trying to get at in my own convoluded little way is that when it comes to humanitarianism, who cares about predestination? I mean, I know it's an important topic in Christianity, but maybe we should just push that aside right now and focus on the things in Scripture that are clear: we are called to love one another and love Jesus, to take care of the marginalized, those whom society has forgotten. Maybe we should act like everyone has a chance for transformation no matter where they are, no matter who they are, no matter what the cards hold in store for them. Maybe we should believe in a God who doesn't write people off and model ourselves in that spirit. Because to believe in a God who doesn't give people a chance is to refute Jesus' crucifixion. Isn't that what grace is? Giving undeserving, screwed up people a chance they shouldn't have?

Ok, so I'm not sure if that has made any sense. I think I confused myself, so I've likely confused all of you. But on the bright side, this one really is a short post, right? By the way, Naseem and I have committed to not showering for a week. We're almost there. Two more days and we'll have reached our goal. Dream big, everyone.



Anonymous said...

Honest to blog, a week!? God clearly foreordained your stench, I guess.

The pre-colonial Calvinists had a belief that is relevant. They believed that people were predestined toward salvation of course and this destiny is evident in worldly success. But this model, clearly most Americans and Europeans are going to be in the happy afterlife, while many Asians, Latin Americans, and Africans are going to get the room next to the ice machine.

And so, while I admire Calvin's hermeneutics, this is a bogus conclusion (homeless marginalized Galilean rabbi, anyone?). However, the other misreading is that everything is predestined. Efin thsi baldy mispeldt sintants. God predestines something sinful or imperfect, then perhaps God is sinful and imperfect and wicked to condemn children to a potential lifetime of poverty and suffering.

I don't think any of us who take scripture seriously believe in that God. We do perhaps believe in a God that loves when the downtrodden and the uptrodden are loved. We do perhaps believe in a God who knows how messed up we are and so he doesn't trust us to be able to find salvation on our own.

The uncontrollable aside... we have a certain lifestyle which are are to follow in this Christian nightmare. Feed, clothe, visit, pray for, love. All summed up in the command: Go.

There must be a purpose to this going or else it's vanity. "Well done, my good and faithful servant. You went and loved people, but it didn't accomplish anything because you suck and I planned it that way. Nice try though!" ::God gives annoying frat guy guns and wink::

Maybe if we look back at Abraham we can find meaning... his nation would be a blessing to others. God doesn't promise their salvation (yet). God only promises that they'll be blessed through that line. Perhaps that's our mission in going... we don't know if folks'll be saved (or not). But we aren't to be the end of the grace chain. We ought to bless with grace and mercy, just as was shown to us.

Matt Davis said...

You know, like, what he said and stuff.

DW said...

Also, I am not quite as impressed with your non-showering ways when I can see the pictures and how crystal clear that water is that you are jumping into each day. So there.

wisdom said...

God, our rescuer/liberator/vindicator, wants all people to be rescued/set free/vindicated, and to come into an intimate, personal relationship with the (One who is) Truth. (1 Tim. 2:4) That is what God wants, and that is why Jesus did what he did (1 Tim. 2: 6), and that is why He calls us to do what we are called to do, which is exactly what you guys are doing. If any systematic theologian tries to tell you anything different, you can politely and respectfully tell that individual to shut his or her pie-hole.

Raggamuffin said...

I enjoy the thoughts there Widsom, I guess my only question would be what to do with the commentary about the one who was predestined before time began to be eternally damned and how God hardened Pharoahs heart in order to show His glory? Not to be difficult but those seem in direct contrast with what you were sharing, which in most ways I share too. Something I wrestle with often. Maybe I should just adhere to Mr. Luther's thoughts on the matter and think about other things! :D

wisdom said...

Rag: My brief response: 1)a careful review of the biblical narrative reveals that Pharoah hardened his own heart first; 2) there is no basis in the text to support an extrapolation from the extraordinary historical/theo-political circumstances of Pharoah to some general theory of how God deals with people; 3) I am not aware of any text about a person who was predestined before time began to be eternally damned; and 4)Luther should have taken his own advice because he wrote an exegetically flawed philosophical treatise on this very topic. Bottom line--given 1 Tim 2, we know what God wants, and we know what we are called to do.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that we, like Pharoah, have hardened our hearts and require prior action by God in order have them softened?

wisdom said...

Saint B: yes, except for the "like Pharoah" part because I am reticent to generalize from that particular despotic knucklehead. God does not simply soften our hearts, He gives us new hearts. Your prior action theory ranges into speculative theology, but your point is corrrect. All is by His gracios initiative.

wisdom said...

I mean gracious initiative.

Jason Raschen said...

The name of that film would be The Man Who Knew Too Much and that song is awesome.

That’s funny. I thought you didn't shower for weeks while you were hear in the USA.

Seriously, you are making a lot of sense. Those are some tough questions with tough answers. Keep searching.

Ryan said...

I think the idea of pre-destination must have its root in eastern religion - and somehow was ported over to western Christianity. Whatever it is, it sounds like Hinduism to me.

I think that when Paul talks about being pre-destined in Ephesians, he is simply re-re-stating the fact that God's will for everyone is to be saved. And to make that choice is to enter into God's will, and to enter your very own God the Father, Son and Spirit-supported "destiny". "In the beginning ... it was good" ... the evil one wasn't pre-designed to rebel against God - it was a choice of free will - and the result of pride.

So the problem we face is that the evil one likes to interfere ... a whole heck of a lot. Example - right here at the orphanage. This orphanage could be a beautiful place, and we know God wants it to be glorifying for Him. But, the evil one got his dirty little paws all over things here.

Our job then has been to pry it out of the grip of darkness and shine some giant spotlights into the cob-webs - exposing everything.