So here’s just a little bit of what I’ve been thinking about/wrestling with today:
- I truly do feel like a “rat in a cage.” I feel quite trapped, unable any longer to bear the dichotomy between the life I feel called to live and my life as I’m currently living it. This is really an integrity issue for me. The “me” I present to the world each day through my choices, mannerisms, words, and actions is largely inconsistent with the “me” that rages within, yearning to become what it might. I want my life to be burned up in “the holy flame” of which Abraham Joshua Heschel speaks; yet most days that flame quietly flickers within, threatening to be extinguished by the monotony and pressure of middle-class USAmerican mediocrity. I’m tired of having it both ways- paying lip service to a life of radical discipleship through loving service to God and humanity, all the while bemoaning my lack of local partners who might help me live such a life, while at the same time I secretly covet all the technological and other toys that my privileged life affords me. I accumulate books that I want to read, but never quite find the time to, knowing that they mostly serve the purpose of padding my ego, inflating my self-confidence so that I can make a show of caring (at least to be informed) about “the issues;” yet all the while I do little to respond and make change regarding all the challenges those issues represent. The fact is that I’m fully aware that nearly everything about my life- from the food I eat to the house I live in and the stuff that fills it to the “leisure” pursuits I engage in- all of it comes at much too great a cost to my neighbors around the world and to the world itself. My wealth and the energy required to sustain it along with the waste that is its by-product are possible on a finite earth only because most of the people around the world have so little. I get fat while they starve. I worry about my commute, and my retirement fund, and the home repairs I need to make, while they decide which of their children can eat today. I know the problems that caused all of this are much, much bigger than me, and that my efforts alone will do little to change all of this. Yet the fact remains that there is much I can do, much change I could make even in my own little life and that of my family. So every moment that goes by in which I fail to make that change that it is within my power to make, however hard it might be, is a moment stolen from those who suffer because of my refusal to do what I can. I know too that I am both much weaker, and much stronger, than I think I am, and that when I combine my efforts with like-minded fellow revolutionaries the whole of our work together will be much greater than the sum of its parts.
- I have to admit that I’m tired of trying to be a Christian, and I don’t think I can do it anymore. I’ve long cried out against what passes for “Christianity” in USAmerican culture, and I suppose I’m growing tired even of my own shtick. I’m not ready to give up on Jesus, though, because I’m convinced he hasn’t given up on me or the world yet. I just don’t want to get into another argument about the Bible, or the doctrinal efficacy of substitutionary atonement, or whether or not there is a literal Hell. The world that so many people get up to every day is so very hellish as it is that I yearn to see redemption break forth like the dawn; I long to see reconciliation get loose and run free through the streets. Anyway, I just don’t care anymore who says what about which way Jesus would vote, or whether or not he favors capitalism as the least evil economic system humanity can imagine. I’m not interested in the culture wars, and I’m sick of all the oil wars and other wars waged to preserve our way of life, because I’m sick of our way of life, and I think Jesus is too. If the gospel is true, if Jesus is who he claims to be, then I have to believe that he’s doing what he said he is- reconciling the world to himself and each of us with one another. In this case, it’s also quite true that everything indeed must change- starting with and most especially me. So I yearn to “be” that change- for Jesus’ sake and for the sake of the world. If the gospel isn’t true, then none of this shit really matters anyway.
- As has been well-documented here, I yearn for community. I yearn to be part of something bigger than me, to know my place within a whole and holy community of world-changers. I want to be part of a family that transcends natural bonds, that bridges customary divisions of race, class, etc. I know that if I am to follow Jesus rather than the Mammon-god of USAmerica, I need help, and I’m not afraid to ask for it anymore. I know that in this culture it is only through sharing resources and limiting the needed number of houses, cars, and jobs among a large group of people that time and energy and money can be freed up to love our neighbors and change the world, at least as we find it right in front of us- on our block, around the corner, down the street. I’m ready to be part of such a community, and eager to do what I have to and go where I need to in order to find it.