Monday, December 24, 2007

"'Christmas! Christmas!' when there is no Christmas."

"'Peace! Peace!' when there is no peace." One of the Jewish prophets cried out against the false prophets who declared peace when there was violence all around. You have to wonder how the false prophets could have gotten away with it -- could have gotten any kind of a hearing that would arouse a response. I mean -- when there is violence all around, isn't it obvious? How could someone declare peace and have anyone take the message seriously? It's a mystery.

On the other hand, one of my favorite little malaprop is: There's a seeker born every minute. In other words, people will hear what they want to hear, believe what they want to believe.

Channel surfing late last night I ran across a travel channel show about tribal life. I didn't catch the name of the island, but it was some island that had been occupied by US forces during WWII. After they left, the natives started up a cult of expectation of their return. The cult is called "John Frum," as in "John from America," and it raises the American flag each day, has Friday worship in which the hope and expectation is expressed that John Frum will return to bless them. No, I'm not making this up. Google it.

People will believe what they want to believe. Perhaps I'm just feeling extra cynical this Christmas. Lets see: this year I've just heard from a friend whose wife left him last week, though he's been trying hard to keep the marriage together. I have other friends whose marriages are on the rocks, or completely gone. Another friend's son has just been diagnosed with cancer. Etc., etc. I talked to the first one mentioned just a bit ago, and he wished me a Merry Christmas. He meant it, too, even though his heart is breaking and mine aches with him. I don't know what to do with that.

So, chalk it up to a bad mood if you want, but when I see our government trying to convince us that we're all about peace, I'm juuuust a tad skeptical. When I see materialistic churches trying to "put the Christ back in Christmas," my skepticism turns black. Can we be that blind?

Ok, sorry -- dumb question.

But what bugs me most is my own ability to affect any of it. "Cosmic Therapy" indeed. The truth is that I can't even fix myself, so certainly I can't expect to be able to fix the world. I know, of course, that only God can fix the world. But I continually despair of our human attempts to have any impact at all.

In a few minutes my family will attend a Christmas Eve service that will proclaim the entry of God into his creation with the hope that creation itself will ultimately be redeemed. Marana tha.

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