Monday, March 1, 2010

The Endless Potential of What Was, Is and Will Be

The word that comes to mind in the town of Moss Landing is mouldering. To crumble into small particles; to turn to dust by natural decay; to lose form, or waste away, by a gradual separation of the component particles, to crumble away. But mouldering is a form of art in this coastal village....the ribs of the once seaworthy boat and the fishing nets still speak.

Yes,  the horse is on the second is all second story in this town...the story of what was lays about and attracts people to wander out of their city abodes and think of slower, perhaps simpler life styles that are fast fading.  Or maybe it makes  our lives look  neat and new after wandering around the town's strategically placed relics. Some relics of the past have more to give the future than others.

A work horse of the past...

"Tradition,"  said G. K Chesteron  back in 1908 , "means giving a vote to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead."  He goes on to say:
Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our father.
(From  Orthodoxy The Romance of Faith   Chapt 4 The Ethics of Elfland p.48 Doubleday Image)

The Real Estate flyer for this crumbling shack and rain sodden roadside field  made me laugh, and yet it is true...there is endless potential...

And this sign made me think of my grandmother, who often referred to God the Creator as "The Man Upstairs." 

But we all know that not everything passes away slowly.  We are witnesses to catcalysmic upheavel and destruction of life and property...before we can comprehend the devastation in Haiti,  Chile is also struck with earthquakes, and tsunami waves.  Destruction can come upon us in a flash,  not just the slow mouldering that we see in old barns and aging docks. 
And doubts surface, as if such events were new to earth's history, what  does the Man Upstair have in mind? Is he even home? some ask, and if he is, does he care?  C.S. Lewis penned this age old question succinctly  in The Problem of Pain:
"If God were good. He would wish to make His creatures happy, and if God were almighty, He would be able to do what He wishes.  But the creatures are not happy.  Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both."

That is the question Lewis is addressing, not his conclusion. Lewis reminds us how careful we must be using terms like "good" and "almighty" without keeping all the intrinsics of creation in mind.   Nature is relentless.  Man cannot  permanently persuade, move, or entreat "nature."  It is "Nature" that  is inexorable.
The inexorable "laws of Nature" which operate in defiance of human suffering or desert, which are not turned aside by prayer, seem at first sight to furnish a strong argument against the goodness and power of God.  I am going to submit that not even Omnipotence could create a society of free souls without at the same time creating a relatively independent and "inexorable: Nature. (chapter 2 Divine Omnipotence)

Well, it is a huge subject, and not one I can pretend to explore in depth.  I must get back to work. But it is on my heart and I ponder it.  One of my friends who survived Nargis in Burma shared some of her struggles of faith in the face of tremendous loss, but her heart is strong and as she has continued to dedicate herself to helping others, her doubts have waned.
 We aren't all given to traveling to physically help on location of distant disasters, we can't all travel to where the eye of the storm has just passed, but we can reach out with what we have and give help through goods and services and the hands of those who are deployed.  I noticed that two of the first active on site relief agencies mentioned in the Chilean quake news stories were the tried and true Red Cross and World Vision
Another organization that is proactively ready to help is known as Shelter Box.  They create ready- to- deliver boxes with large tents and  new survival items customized for the terrain and type of needs likely to be faced by homeless survivors.
 I know there are many viable organizations and individuals and I thank those who are reaching out to strengthen what remains, living in faith and celebrating the endless potential...
much of which is hidden from plain view.


Sarah Beth said...

"If God were good. He would wish to make His creatures happy, and if God were almighty, He would be able to do what He wishes. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both."

I read the first page of chapter 2, too... The one problem I have with this so far is, that while I do experience temporary bouts of unhappiness, I find that I experience a constant underlying sense of joy. The creature is happy. Your thoughts?

Jeannette said...

Yes and...
the creature is happy and then volcano time ruins things... that is the level of unhappiness being addressed. Nature is also a great giver of joy...but the freedom, the laws inherent can cause, for example, happy skiers to be buried in an avalanche. The unhappiness of the survivors is being addressed...the "if God is so good, why didn't God protect the happy skier?" question. That leads to wondering at the omnipotence of the Creator. That is the exploration chapter two unfolds.

Sarah Beth said...

ooooh, that makes more sense to me now. Hmmmm you are a good translator of C.S. Lewis. This whole book group thing is a good idea. :)


Thanks, Jeannette, for directing me to this thought provoking post. (You can leave a link in my comments any time.) I'd love to have C.S. Lewis and E Stanley Jones (who I quoted) join our debate in person. Guess we will have to wait until heaven.

You are a thinker.

Glenda of the lake