Sunday, July 13, 2008

The worst and the best.

I could not finish reading "Uncle Tom's Cabin." It just upset me too much. The fact that it's a work of fiction makes no difference. It deals with real life. The sheer cruelty and bloodiness of it was more than I could keep taking in. The same was true watching parts of "The Shawshank Redemption" when the sadistic warder was belting a helpless inmate with a night stick. I had to look away, in disgust and rage.It could be partly because there was a period of clinical depression in my life (under control now) but knowing that this sort of thing DID happen can make a person sick at heart.
The same goes for hearing about human trafficking - people abducted and used as sex slaves, until they either die from some disease or become self-destructive. The sheer evil of hurting and ruining someone else's life that way! It seems rather harsh that God destroyed all life on Earth once before, but at times like that it's possible to understand why! The wicked are swept away, and the suffering are put out of it, and perhaps their souls were saved anyway! Some people look at this state of things and say 'how could there be a god' to which my reply is 'how could PEOPLE do such things, and no wonder a caring God is infuriated by it! Because PEOPLE do it, God does not. And if rage at these things arises from a God-given sense of what is right and wrong, then to feel this way might be sharing in the sufferings of Christ. The Three Persons of God must be appalled at what humans sometimes sink to (and I'd better not forget that my wrong doings needed to be paid for at Calvary as well) and sometimes it calls for divine retribution.
So, from the worst to the best: having said all the above, it's a huge inspiration and comfort to hear the witness and thoughts of Christians. In the same world, the same country, even the same town, you can see the worst of vileness from humans, in such things as human trafficking and drug dealing. On the other you can see the light of God reflected in witnesses. It comes out in their actions, too. Some Christians have gone to places they might not have wanted to be at all, because there was a need that they could meet by being there. Some work in occupations chosen for the benefit of others, not for their own glory or gain. Whatever they do, many show by what they say that they care and would wish the human race suffered less. So I can lose all faith in mere human beings, myself included, even though I have friends and family I love and appreciate. Then I can regain all hope by remembering that humans are still made in the image of God, and when they will let the Holy Spirit enter their hearts and minds they can reflect what is good in the Universe, as well.
The contrast can make your head spin. From seeing how God decided to wash the whole planet clean, sparing only the people and creatures He called onto the Ark; to seeing how Jesus could face up to and suffer the crucifiction, to save us.
When peope want to make something good, they are echoing the creativity of God.It might be in something small in itself; but it is still the impulse to make something good, the opposite of destruction and cruelty. Everywhere you go on the internet, you find knitting and crochet enthusiasts; artists; film makers, and writers.
And stay-at-home mothers reflect the nurturing impulse of God. Fathers who care do that as well; but without getting into schmaltzy sentiment about it, I'm offering my respects to women who see their way to being there for young children in a full-on way like that. Having been an involved father, I know how demanding the care of a child can be. No-one need try to tell me parenting is easy; and mothers seem to carry a lot of it.
Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote that novel because she looked at a horror in the world and had to speak out against it. Some people run collections or do volunteer work because they want things to be better. Myself, I've done a little bit of a lot of things without being brilliant at any of them. I wrote the one novel I have in print so far, because something in the world roused me and I had to show how things could be better. I don't believe that "Outcasts Of Skagaray" will change history the way "Uncle Tom's Cabin" did. But the feeling is the same. When you see something cruel and wrong, and want to change it, then you show the divine spark that found its full expression in God the Messiah, or God the Son, Jesus Christ. We can't claim to be equal to Him, but we can take inspiration from knowing that when we want to put something good into the world, we are following His example. Sometimes, it seems to me, you can save yourself from despair by doing what little it seems that you can to change things.


Marshall Art said...

I don't know if this is truly on point, but your reaction to Uncle Tom resonates in this manner: child abuse. I cannot abide it in anyway. The thought of it enrages me to no end. Today, there was a report of a nine year old girl raped and murdered and left in an alley in Chicago. The other day, Bill O'Reilley (a pundit on FoxNews Channel) showed a clip of a teen putting an infant on some kind of cushion, and then he bounced on the other end causing the baby to fly off and land who knows where. Just reading in the newspaper any story of a child being killed by any type of abuse violent episode can bring me to tears. I can't stand it. There was a story recently of a guy who pulled over and pulled a small child out of his car and began beating the crap out him. The kid was like a toddler as I recall. Such stories make me wish I could be present when these things take place so I can exact the proper punishment personally. I would go berserk.

These are signs of what, true evil or insanity? How can we tell precisely? Should we even bother trying? And of course, what can my Lord be thinking of me when I entertain thoughts of violence upon these pathetic examples of humanity? Does He see it as righteous anger, or just hatred? Truth to tell, I can't say that the idea of hatred ever crossed my mind until now. Only brutalizing those that would dare brutalize a child.

Forgive my rambling rant. I've read this post several times and each resulted in some version of what I have put down here. Sorry if I missed your point.

Andrew Clarke said...

You understood the point perfectly!
As you say, the pure cruelty of some things can enrage a person utterly. But it's a good point that you raise. If I, in anger, do to someone what I see them doing to a victim, am I actually any better? I can tell myself that I'm defending the victim, but it's a thing I've been over in my mind about a great deal. Where is the line between righteous anger and the appropriate response, and becoming exactly what I react to? In fact, that's part of the perniciousness of Satan, that the demon can use my own response to drag me down to the same level as the thing I hate to see. But the report you mention, the nine year old girl's hard to blame someone if they went to the defence of that child and left the rapist incapable of ever doing such things again. Then I have to remember Jesus' reaction when Peter, angry at the attack on Jesus, cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. Jesus promptly healed it; but even after so much time with Jesus, Peter could react with rage to the evil actions of those who arrested Him. It's a battle. I'm glad of your comment, by the way. Visit and comment any time. Blessings.