FreedomThu 18 January 2024 by R.L. Dane
Content Warning: this is all coming from a fairly Christian worldview, and so may seem a bit like proselyting to those from other traditions and beliefs. I'm just putting out what I'm mulling over, so as always, you're welcome to read it, or wait for another nerdy UNIXy post a litle later on. ;)
Pondering Free Will / Freedom tonight. (And I suppose, the responsibility thereof)
There are times that I'm really astounded by the fact that God seems to leave us to our devices. That we will go through decades and even entire lifetimes bound and suffering when the truth and the remedy is right in front of our noses the whole time, if only we would enter in.
I was listening to this song on the way home this evening, and the words started crashing through the hardness of my heart:
"And now love's a choice, I know it's true
He never forced my heart to move
But therein lies the mystery
That He reached first in choosing me
And He spoke my name, the sweetest sound
And to this day I still resound
Now death has lost its hold on me
And life springs up abundantly"
Reflecting on the issue of Freedom/Free Will, I don't think I could be further away from Calvinism at this point. To suggest that the cumulative suffering of humanity is somehow justified because of some incredibly vague concept of chabad ("The Glory of God") is just... obscene. Instead I see God as a friend who is... It's so hard to say this... who is somehow bound by His own Word. Who is apparently far less than blatantly omnipotent and glibly handling the fortunes of all humanity like a plaything. But rather than passively observing Humanity's self-destruction, He is observing with a vehement, zealous love for humanity, compassion for our failings, desire for our fulfillment in Him, yet... not intervening (from our perspective).
I may never understand fully. But I think it has something to do with those words,
"He never forced my heart to move / But therein lies the mystery / That he reached first in choosing me"
Man, if I were God, I would save people with a bulldozer. I wouldn't use such tenuous gossamer threads as the revelation of Christ as is manifest throughout millenia by fickle, selfish men in the so-called chruch. I am utterly blown away that He watches the church in the West twist the Gospel into something I cannot even recognize (in even my own feeble understanding of the Gospel) and seemingly does nothing.
And that's the real issue of theodicy, isn't it? Not that God is some monstrous ogre torturing humanity through His sovereign will so He can indirectly glorify Himself. That idea is... revolting
The real issue of theodicy is that we exist, we suffer, and He seemingly does... nothing.
That's the heart of the argument for us God-accusers. The ones supposedly bereft of divine parentage and involvement, and hurtling through life with no control or hope. This is how we put God on trial. "I suffered greatly, and You did nothing."
But is it true? Is it?
No. It's not. Yet from our broken perspective, what He has done seems so paltry.
"Ok, ok, ok, You sent Your Son to suffer and die for me two thousand years ago so I can somehow be ok. But my life still sucks! What's the point of all those incredible words and deeds so long ago if life today is still miserable?"
I think my answer may be a very strange kind of modified Deism (though not Deism). God does amazing things that we do not see, and where He stops short of helping us in ways that we consider helpful, there is a reason, and an answer...
But you have to find it. It won't be given to you. You have to seek, knock, ask.
Ultimately: you choose to either suffer in darkness with your fist raised, or enter into relationship. A dialogue. An intimate walk with Someone who so desperately wants to help you, strengthen you, teach you, if only you would put down your self-written lawbook of accusations long enough to just listen.
THAT is what blows my mind. He puts the answer out there like breadcrumbs: Truth, Beauty, Virtue, Ideals. He crafts this amazing, beautiful world, seemingly watches it utterly fall to pieces and then... sprinkles Beauty in the midst of chaos. Demonstrates love and kindness through the simplest of gestures: words of kindness, exhortation, art, poetry, theatre, even politics (the few times that it is actually bound to virtue and a pure motive). We walk among the gargoyles of our own corruption and somehow He gives us the ability to bring beauty to this horror show... but so feebly.
So, will we join Him in healing and restoring the Earth, or turn our backs on humanity to face Him in accusation?
So I guess my own accusation sounds something like this. "My life went off the rails in so many ways. Where were the guardrails? Where were the tracks that I was supposed to follow? The bumpers to keep me from wasting decades on foolish and selfish pursuits?"
The answer... so simple and beautiful that it's horrifying: "There never were any. I kept you from the worst, but the rest was... up to you. I wanted a relationship, not a robot. Forget yesterday, stop mourning over what could have been, but wasn't. Look at what can be. Start once again to bring beauty to your world. You have to look UP — not even primarily gazing at the heavens in devotion, but looking straight ahead — get your eyes off yourself long enough to see those around you that are so desperate to recieve what you already carry. That is your choice."
I don't want the choice, but well, there I am. I exist. I have to deal with it.
So I live. I seek, I knock. I see, I percieve, and what I percieve causes me to weep and wail. But there's a door for me to walk out of every single day.