Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Say What?

The United Church of Christ has a wonderful slogan, "God Is Still Speaking," which to me is different from, "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!" The former indicates that God's intentions, hopes, and will for Creation still are unfolding and coming to light as humanity grows toward fulfillment of God's vision for life. The latter warns us that everything is decided, finished, and there is no chance beyond conformity to someone else's ideas for anything more or better.

There are candidates for national office who suggest that God speaks to and through them (although, they are competitors and may not always agree), but what they say sounds more like the conviction that the final standard for what is right, good, and perfect was recorded indelibly long ago. Is God merely repeating him/her/itself?

I admit that repetition is important in order for most people to undergo any manner of transformation of their hearts and minds, but I also don't find surprising the concept that we may not have complete awareness of the Eternal God's nature, wisdom, and desires.

One person dreaming of moving into the White House declared (as a "joke" we later learned from those who sweep up such messes) that the recent earthquakes and hurricane made things dicey and inconvenient for millions of people because of the debt ceiling debates and other economic strategies of the federal government. This insightful observation went along the lines of "What does God have to do to get our attention?"

Sunday marked the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington, at which Martin Luther King, Jr. relayed his "dream" to the nation and beyond. Were Dr. King's speech, the speeches of others that day, and the fact that hundreds of thousands of people showed up to confront the nation about bigotry and injustice indicators that God was speaking? How many of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement were clergy? A lot. Mass meetings were held regularly in churches. Speeches and songs of the movement included image after image pertaining to God and faith. Bull Connor reportedly said, "I just couldn't stand their singing."

Is the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots God's message that affluence, avarice, greed, materialism, exploitation and all the rest determine who deserves to be blessed? I mean, there is such a thing called the "prosperity gospel" that is wildly popular and sought-after these days.

As I look at the story of God's people in scripture it seems evident that God wasn't about corralling people into a tight place, but rather sought (and I believe seeks) humanity's fullest potential for life, love, and meaning -- not that we would rise to equal footing with God, but rather that the gift of life given to us by God would be known as the blessing God intended for it to be.

We ain't there yet.

Separating, limiting, discounting, condemning and worse won't make it happen. Perhaps the self-selected few who can grab the reins of power and control will find a measure of satisfaction or what they think will give them happiness, i.e., wealth, leisure, a sense of superiority, a chair on top of the heap. But, what they also will end up experiencing are anxiety, fear, suspicion, and paranoia as they begin to recognize the resentment and anger of most of the world's population, expressed in increasingly dangerous ways.

Perhaps God speaks in all of that, too, making the point that friction exists between privilege for a small group and desperation for most.

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