Sep 12, 2011

Existential Angst

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Being complex creatures entitles us to a life of frustration in a world filled with reductionist solutions. When things are not going our way, we look for help. That's simple enough.  So, as we head out to the bookstore, local church, or favored website, we may become overloaded with simplistic procedures that promise to remedy our predicament. However, we are not simple creatures. There are obvious situations that come our way that are going to crush our spirit, and there will be no rudimentary procedure available to restore us to our former place of happiness. Even when things are going well, there is a high probability that a bittersweet sensation will be ever present. As Proverbs says, even in our laughter there will be sadness. (Prov. 14:13)


My boredom-driven frustration with so many Christian messages, today, is their tendency to reduce every problem down into a moral issue.  If, for example, our joy is gone, life is hard, friends are jerks, or our dog died, we shouldn't be surprised to hear, from these sources, that it is probably because of a simple moral failure on our behalf. I'm not saying that such may not be the case. Moral stupidity brings a truckload of difficulty into any person's life. And there are plenty of great resources available, regardless of simplicity, that may, in fact, be the solution to the problem. But, I'm talking about the reality that the entire human condition is more complex than any seven-step program can solve.  We are fallen people living in a fallen world with a God who is invisible. Those are the ingredients to an existence of trouble and anxiety.


What I hope to see is a broader acceptance of the mysteries of life in the Western Pop-Christian market.  There will always be a need for simple programs and solutions, but living in the tension between the promises of God and the failures of humanity needs a theology that cannot produce answers, just acceptance and worship.  We need to accept the fact that there are things in life beyond our control and we may never know, on this side of the grave, why God allowed them to happen.  They will (possibly, must) remain a mystery.  


Of course, writing things off as a mystery is also very reductionist.  Hmmm. Maybe, I need to write a seven-step program on how to nullify simplistic messages that ignore the mysteries of God.