Monday, November 26, 2007

The Madding Crowd

Finding myself in church on Sunday, I realized that my problem with faith has to do with the sense that I -- along with the rest of humanity, including Christians especially -- am one of the crowd spitting at Jesus. I do not believe Jesus' words to the good thief "this day thou shalt be with me in paradise," suggesting that the drama of history will have a happy ending.

In fact, I perceive war Iraq and Afghanistan, corporate fraud and the exploitation of humans by humans -- or any of the million big and small misdeeds most of us do -- as part and parcel of a picture of reality askew. Where is the evidence otherwise?

It's the conflict described by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in his poem "Christmas Bells," written in 1864 upon hearing that his son had been wounded in battle,
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Cast an eye to the four-fifths of humanity living in benighted squalor and degradation and the conclusion is clear: God is dead and right does not prevail. The feast of Christ the King is a monarchist delusion.

Neither the deity, nor the man-god Son rules nor exerts sovereign power that anyone can tell. I ceased believing so when I realized that I was in the first ranks among the crowd whose lives mock all professions of faith.
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