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Tragedy of good intentions

by davesandel on December 28th, 2013

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Tragedy of good intentions

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fourth Day of Christmas

Psalm 124

Had not the Lord been with us … when men rose up against us they would have swallowed us alive when their fury was inflamed against us.  The torrent would have swept over us; over us then would have swept the raging waters.  But our soul has been rescued, like a bird from a fowler’s snare.  And our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

All causes, no matter how well-intentioned, lead to some kind of violence.  What has been called “the great march” leads participants to self-righteousness, judgment and division.  This is a fair warning, regardless of the truth that there are indeed good causes, right causes, godly causes.

It is not easy to ground ourselves in the deeper truth of love and brotherhood.  Thomas Hardy sought to get “far from the madding crowd.”  Why?  Because crowds dislodge our peace, our patience, our quiet, our love.  A crowd insists that those nearby join it.  IT.

Ron Rolheiser says that to hold our own against this force, we must pray.  Stephen (Acts 7) was stoned by a madding mob.  “The people of the crowd, notwithstanding their religious fervor and sincerity, DO NOT PRAY.”  They do not look up.  “Their gaze is on Stephen, at whom they are looking with misunderstanding and hatred.  His message of love is at that moment an inconvenient truth, so they are stopping their ears so as not to hear.

“They are not in the flow of the Holy Spirit but in the grip of hysteria.  They are seeing only what is below the heavens, and that is NON-PRAYER.”

This happens as often to us as to them.  “Sometimes even our sincere prayer together is nothing more than the deepening of our group narcissism and a deeper enslavement to the maddening crowd.”

Stephen had a different view and vision.  “His gaze is beyond the crowd, beyond the moment, beyond human divisions, beyond hatred, beyond even the fear of his own death.  This, and only this, IS PRAYER.”

Lord, we cannot pretend that we know what is right, what is good or what is evil.  Only you seem to know these things, and if we close our minds to your mind and settle on our own version of Right, we finally fall.  Bring my mind into submission, Lord, to you.  Let me eat the Tree of Life and turn away from that old Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Bring your humility into being in me and make me whole.

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