Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Learn to do Good! Seek Justice! (Isaiah)

     iPhone photograph, Charles Leck, 30 April 2013

As I get older, moving into my mid-seventies, I find I need to create some disciplines for myself in order to keep my mind alert and to continue acquiring understand. Having daily readings from certain books or writings helps. So does keeping  a daily journal in which I record activities of the day or thoughts I’m having. Another discipline is to read scripture at least every few days. I didn’t think it would amount to much but it’s having a major impact on me – and my mind – and my attitudes.
by Charlie Leck

Does anyone out there read the Bible anymore? Or is it passé? Sometimes I find a little scripture can go a long way.

Some people in my life, when I was young, innocent and not very adventurous, convinced me that reading the Bible was very important. Preachers and sunday-school-teachers – and even kin – sold me a bill of goods that, even in my current freethinking days, somehow sticks with me. Whatever it was that was implanted in me, it still causes me to reach regularly for one of the various translations of scripture that sits on the shelf just to my left. Not daily, but regularly, I read “the word” and contemplate its significance and relevance to life in the twenty-first century. Has it any? I refuse unthoughtful, reflexive replies! As much as Shakespeare, certainly! In many cases, it seems, I am certain, more.

So today, the Sojourners organization sent me some scripture (from Isaiah) to contemplate…

“Learn to do good;
seek justice,
rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
plead for the widow.”

I sit quietly after reading it. What thoughts come to mine?

Learn to do good!
Learning to do good is like exercise.
It has no benefit unless we do it habitually and dedicate ourselves to it.
And, like playing the piano, we need to practice it in order to do it well.
Must we seek justice?
Is it not apparent? Obvious? At hand?
Is it difficult to discover? Does it avoid us?
Is it also like exercise? Must we practice it and do it regularly?
What happens, when we seek justice,
if we find unfairness, transgression and villainy?
We were not searching for such; therefore, shall we simply move on?
We find the oppressed.
We discover uncared for orphans.
Widows abound. They, unsupported, have been left to care for a family.
How, in God’s name (I mean it!), do we rescue them?
Liberty and justice for all!
Really? Here? All around us? Really?

Scripture often tires me. There are simpler things to read. Less challenging! Less threatening!

I shall relax and read some Kirkegaard!

"… so the only thing that can save him is the absurd, and this he grasps by faith. So he recognizes the impossibility, and that very instant he believes the absurd; for if, without recognizing the impossibility with all the passion of his soul and with all his heart, he should wish to imagine that he has faith, he deceives himself, and his testimony has no bearing, since he has not even reached the infinite resignation.
Faith therefore is not an aesthetic emotion but something far higher, precisely because it has resignation as its presupposition; it is not an immediate instinct of the heart, but is the paradox of life and existence."

This absurdity? It makes me wonder!

Can we avoid sin? Escape injustice?
Is sinfulness a natural part of existence,
confronting us wherever we turn? Abundant? Dominant?”

I intend to play golf today, among the 15 percent. I have no time to seek justice. I simply wouldn’t know where to search for it. And, if I found it, then what? Why am I not commanded to seek injustice? Is it because such an assignment is not a challenge?

Am I being too pessimistic? This infinite resignation of which Kirkegaard writes? Is he on to something? Is it resignation that is at the heart of faith?

Daily Rilke Reading…

“Impermanence plunges us into the depth of all Being …in a sheer earthly, deep earthly, sacred earthly consciousness: that what we see here and now is to bring us into a wider – indeed, the very widest, – dimension. Not in an afterlife whose shadow darkens the earth, but in a whole that is the whole.”
                                               Rainer Maria Rilke in a letter to Witold Hulewicz, 1925

(from this morning’s local newspaper):
It is estimated that the 2011 famine in Somali killed a quarter of a million people and that approximately half of those were aged five or under. This is according to a report, heavily funded by Great Britain and the United States, which will be published within a day or two. Contrary to the report, it will be argued by some that less than two-hundred thousand were killed.

Oh, absurdity!

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1 comment:

  1. If only "we" spent more time, energy, and money on helping those in need and less of it in wars caused by power and greed.