Monday, January 16, 2012
Citizens cannot abolish Sin, neither can we ignore it at election times
The first of a series of thoughts-out loud during
the candidates for president debates
I make my confession to you. My intention was to listen to the political aspirations and, during the commercials, work on some blog. Mia culpa. After a bit, I put on speeches on “mute” and listened to the commercials. (Not true, but no Texan born and bred would corrupt a good story with the truth and nothing but…) Actually, there is still a good bit of cross-pollination going on.
“You must be saved,” is not an irrelevancy to listeners. It just means more if you are concerned about those with the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This does not involve the theological abstractions of heaven and hell. The reality of “sin” does matter – just as much as “stress.” The flashback is a call to be saved.
The issue is that therapy is often centered on “freed from,” and healing involves “saved to.” For Paul, as our role model, it was not freed from flashbacks; it was a call to mission. We all need a positive meaning to our lives, a “more” than just escaping wearying symptoms.
Sin, as I have come to understand and experience it, is rooted in our biology. It is grounded in perception. Life forms have no way to evade experiencing with whatever they have with which to perceive. Enter our human reality of self awareness. We all got our push into the world naked and squalling.
The essence of Sin is this “all about me.” Under stress, there is a greater push and a pull; with a trauma we just hurt from it on-goingly. To experience some form of PTSD is not sin, but at the same time an ”all about me” needs to be levered loose from it. “What must I do to be ‘freed’?” is as heavy on a person with flashbacks as any sinner who crying out from the mourners’ bench at a revival.
The “Saul” who eventually came in for a renaming as the “Apostle Paul” first took a sharp turn towards health when the term “Christian” was first coined; it meant identifying yourself as a “little Christ.” Since he was teaching in Antioch at that time, we can well believe this piece of theology was rooted in some aspect of his personal experiences (as all theologies are). Out of his woundedness Saul the Professor was pressing hard on the question: “Who am I?”
That is also our question. Trauma disrupts a person’s self identity, fragments it, imposes distortions. We need to demand an answer to the question, just as Saul knew he had to do. “Who am I really?”
We all have our answers, most of them given to us, much like citizenship. “I am a Texan,” “I am a Methodist,” “I am an American.” They are all fine answers for an individual, but we need a bigger and better one.
Back to those political speeches. Some speakers seem to proffer their religion to us (or on us). Some aspects of that seem a good deal about other people’s sin, particularly younger women with a particular kind of being heavy laden. We can only hope similar expressions are just the need of anyone in politics to have a sufficiency of self esteem - rather than an insufficiency of realizing all individuals are limited to their own unique perceptions.