Tuesday, March 8, 2011

“There is a God, and it isn’t me”

PLEASE! Read David Brook’s column, “The New Humanism,” in the New York Times, 3/7/11 GREAT!

There are many words for it, but few of us doubt when we have seen it – or have done it to others or had it done unto us. Whatever name we give it, the deed is the dark flipped side of the humane. A good many of us just call it “sin.”

In the Sunday news we may differ in our choice of examples, but there is sufficient variety to satisfy anyone’s perception. Some will point to the Libyan dictator who is determined to stay in power even if he has to kill every citizen who loves him. Another good choice would be the man who believed himself to be the exemplar of his culture in his sense of fashion – and embarrassed a whole nation with his drunken insults to a woman not of his taste. Tonight’s newscasts nevertheless will produce its own competition for the rights to be called “sin.” Often enough, however, the judgmental nature of designating sin ignores how this lacks that gift of which each one of us stands so much in need: to see ourselves as our neighbors see us.
All this sort of thing brings to mind a friend’s experience. He had spent a length of time in a rehabilitation center. On coming out, his mother asked him what he had learned. He replied without hesitation. “There is a God, and it isn’t me.”

Which leads us to a British cartoon from the First World War. Old Bill is in a shell hole with a rookie; shells are bursting all around them. The grizzled sergeant looks at the new arrival at the front and says, “If you can find a better hole, go to it.” 

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