I am sitting here scrolling through the news like I do most mornings. It used to read the paper over a cup of coffee, but the days of the morning paper are gone. That leaves me with sorting through the online news. But this time it is a bit different. I am sitting here with a good cup of coffee, the grandkids running around and I am looking out over the Currituck Sound in north eastern part North Carolina. The sound separates the barrier islands from the mainland in this part of the Outer Banks. The rain has come in and for a bit it is cloudy, cool and we and the kids are confined to the indoors. The kids will soon be off to an indoor activity and I will be left with my thoughts. I think that is the good part about a vacation. We get to enjoy ourselves. Let me get that right, I get to enjoy me. The kids are fun and the banter around the evening meal is just great. The warm [sometimes too warm] deck is a good place to chill out and maybe even catch a nap. It is a good time to celebrate life and family.
I am sitting here thinking about life, future, family and the creation we love. But the trouble is that there is an article that I came across that is deeply troubling to me and I want to comment on it. I normally try to be light in my weekly letters to you, but this just screamed to be lifted up for you! It is The state of hate in America, reported on msn.com. Certainly, hate has been with us since Cain and Able, but I would like to think that with thousands of years to consider what hate and violence do/are we might be making some progress. It appears it is not so, at least not here in this country. I wanted to give you a quote or two from the article that would demonstrate the issue, but I found that there was simply too much. Too many examples, too much increase, too much of everything. The Southern Poverty Law Center [www.splcenter.org] is a good resource if you want to dig into the issue with more detail. Maybe I am just sensitized about the topic since just finishing an essay by Wendell Berry titled “The Commerce of Violence ” in the book Our Only World, Ten Essays by Wendell Berry.
In the essay Berry comments how we always, it seems, try to balance evil with good. Whenever something evil happens we try to find the good in it. We try to somehow put the evil behind us and move on to the good parts of life. Berry seems to be questioning the wisdom of that.
Now normally I think of myself as a pretty positive kind of guy. I am fond of saying that “Polly Anna was a pessimist.” I want to live on the positive side of life. But if we are frank and build our lives to follow the Christ we really must confront and live with the evil in the world. That evil was ultimately going to kill Jesus. But yet, the Christ continues to live among and with us. The Christ reaches out in the very midst of evil for us to know that regardless of the downsides of life we are loved and that God holds us dear.
Hate and violence are part of the human condition. But we Christ followers must know that being positive is not enough. We must struggle against hate whenever we encounter it. We must name it and seek justice. As the Prophet Micah wrote: what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God… That is an action statement. We are not to simply rework our thoughts to be positive, but we are called, expected, to do something. To name evil, to call for justice and work to overcome evil. Being Christian is not for the faint of heart. Following the Christ is work. But rewarded by the love of our God, present every day of our lives.
Thanks be to God!