Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christ is Risen! Christos Anesti!

I am a Christian. I see nothing in that to apologize about, even if many apologizable things have been said and done in the name of Christianity. My faith is integral, passed down to me from a long line of believers, and I could only deny that faith by denying myself.

That being said, my faith has undergone some changes over the years—necessary changes, as I see it. I’m more willing to admit my ignorance about God and his ways. I’m less willing to hold exclusivist views about who gets to go to Heaven and who inherits the Hot Place. The way I figure it, if God can be merciful to me there’s hope for everyone. Christians have, above many others, given God ample opportunity to exercise his famed loving-kindness. Too bad we selectively forget stories like the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (St. Matthew 18:21-35). I’ve stopped concerning myself with everyone else’s eternal destiny, but I can’t help speculating: Maybe the only likely inhabitants of the Inferno will be those willing to dispatch others there. (Sorry, Sig. Alighieri. I liked your poem anyway.)

I’m also unconvinced, in spite of some lines of Christian teaching, that there is a necessary separation between spirit and body. We live here like trees, in two directions: ever reaching toward heaven and putting down deep roots in the earth. I fail to see the benefit of intentionally stunting growth in either direction. Even though this world, and our life in this world, is warped and unwhole, I refuse to condemn it in some all-out bid for future reward. After all, whatever defects we find in creation seem traceable to our own inability or unwillingness to live in union with both God and our place. Seems rather foolish to junk up a place and then condemn it for being junked up. God set goodness and beauty here, all around us, and I can’t help but live in gratitude and wonder at every good gift from above. In any case, even allowing that the world is in some way fallen, if the Scripture is correct in saying that “with God all things are possible”—and I believe it—then everything, all creation, is redeemable. I consider that even St. Paul, noted for his pessimism toward the world, held out the belief that all creation will be “delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

Which brings me to something of a point. To me, the message of Easter is this: life from death, peace in conflict, hope in troublesome times, comfort in sorrow, love overcoming all. Again, from the pen of the oft-misunderstood Apostle, “Charity never faileth.” I like those words. May I have the courage to live them.

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