Sunday, 13 November 2016

Coping with apocalypse

Shock, panic, horror and surprise.  These are the reactions that the majority of pundits and people through out the world greeted the realisation of Donald Trump's ascendancy to President-elect.  These are the same or similar to the emotions which are clearly depicted in the passage from Luke's gospel as Christ talks about the future (21.5-19). The emotions of people who look into an uncertain future caused by the disruption of expectation.  Yet from all accounts these results could have been predicted as some indeed did.  The emotions arise from our uncertainty as to what the future holds when such an enormous change occurs within our own lives and we need to remind ourselves of a number of things that arise out of our own faith and our own beliefs.

In determining our expectations of the future we listen to the opinions and views that we have formed within our own coterie of acquaintance.  The disruption of our expectations throws us out of kilter with a wish to foment equal disruption to what we perceive as being 'the other' in order to somehow bring it back into line with our expectations.  In a manner of speaking this has come about because of an assumption on our part.  We automatically divide everyone into groups and assume that our divisions are held by all, as they are rooted within a common understanding of disenfranchisement, injustice, neglect, etc.  In making this assumption we believe that there are no other divisions within society or the group which matters more than these.  Thus, there are the poor, the refugee, the abused 'woman', the abused child, etc.  Readily agreed marginalised groups yet amongst these groups who are served (well known} injustices there may be others who have a perception of marginalisation and injustice whom we do not readily recognise.  Yet, for those within these groups, the grievance suffered may result in their feelings of marginalisation and should be recognised as such.  Christ calls us into community and that community is in these days marginalised (unrecognised as such).  So within our own 'otherwise' communities why should we be surprised that there are others who feel just as marginalised.  We are called to stand firm within our own faith and part of that standing firm is to ensure all marginalised groups find the justice they seek in a world governed by injustice.

Isaiah grants us a vision of what a world governed by justice looks like in reality (Is. 65.17-25).  It is written in language that is poetic and in a way totally unbelievable to our own methodological / scientific thought pattern.  It is...unbelievable / fantastical...if we allow ourselves to think solely in that manner.  We consistently divide the world into groups and create divisive understandings between those groups.  Thus, we become enslaved to a mentality that reflects into the world an us vs them categorisation of our surroundings.  In doing so we create for ourselves the marginalised groups that we can then run to aid to fulfill the demands of justice, love, etc.  In the world of the poetic vision of Isaiah the groups all of sudden become inconsequential and blurred. Rusty Schweikart, one of the Apollo mission astronauts prior to the moon landing, described his last day in orbit:

"And now you're well into the last day. And you find yourself just looking. Drifting over that very familiar piece of geography that we call the Middle East. And you're looking down at this, and suddenly it hits you that there are no boundaries. Every time you have seen this before, from the time you were a child, there were always lines. And you realise there are no lines. The lines do not exist. Lines only exist because we hold them in our mind as existing. Then you realise, at that instant, that people are busy killing each other over those imaginary lines."

Just as we create economic and political boundaries so we also create boundaries within our own lives to the detriment of society as seen in the vision of our faith.

Where are the divisions / boundaries / borders in the world?

Is it a surprise than that we are frightened by an uncertain future? We are caught by our own self created blindness as to what to expect from the future. In walking with the 'other', who are different to us (in thought, word and deed), we are called to open our hearts in love, open our minds to their visions and open our wills to a common understanding of what is more than our own prejudices and self imposed barriers.

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