Sunday, December 16, 2012

#38: Newtown #2

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

Why drag the Bible into this? Because even though I identify myself as  Liberal Christian, the Bible is still the foundation for my ideas about right and wrong. I'm not very "churchey" any more, but my relationship with my Creator is as strong as ever. All of this is intended to make the point that I believe we were designed to be rational creatures.

It seems that our culture is in a struggle to suppress that rational part of our architecture. In religion, we do what Paul cautions against: we gulp the milk, but choke on the meat of the gospel. We embrace the comfort Jesus has to offer, but barely dabble in the ministry he calls us to do among our neighbors. In education, we belittle critical and creative thinking in favor of submissive obedience and the mechanical recitation of facts. Public schools are mandated to be institutions where workers are prepared, not incubators for informed, engaged citizens. Much of our art is created to excite, rather than to elevate. The press tends to craft stories to stimulate sentimentality or anxiety rather than to inform the people about how their business is being conducted. And in politics... oh, politics.... It has been suggested that in our post-modern world, the highest value is not truth or love or justice or freedom, but power. Politics and government are becoming a zero-sum game where the goal is not to find what is best for the nation, but to defeat one's opposition. Compromise is interpreted as cowardice. Diversity is corruption. Disagreement is malice or stupidity.

And in all these things, reason - the sapiens part of our species - is not only short-changed, but seems to be mouldering. It's a loss we can not afford.

The ability to express without attacking; to hear without defending: these are fading arts around the world. The corruption of Islam. The tyrannies of Africa. The criminal terrorism of Latin America. The slave states of Asia. The xenophobia of Europe. It is as if we are experiencing the retro evolution of our species. If reason was the tool that allowed humankind to succeed, then its disappearance will surely bring about our failure.

As we struggle to digest the horrors of Newtown, we are bound to disagree about causes and solutions. Our world teaches us that the reason for our disagreement is the ignorance or ill-intent of those who don't think like we do. Isn't it more likely that we disagree because neither of us is exactly right? That the truth lies somewhere out there, in a place that we can only find by reasoning together instead of battling? 

It will demand courage. It will demand forgiveness and humility. Most of all, it will demand love and respect for one another. We're going to have to swim against the tide and admit that winning really isn't the only thing. It's going to be hard. But I believe it is our only hope for survival as a species and as creatures made in the image of the God who calls us to live out our full nature.

Come, let us reason together.

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