Caryn’s 23 things – and then some

Racing into Library 2.0 with LOL and others

Bad things, part II

You can read the first installment at <>.  I explored some reasons that I think God might have for allowing bad things to happen.

Since then, I’ve thought of some other ones.  A few weeks ago on Second Life, I was at Bible Study (you can read about this in my last post), and the conversation came around to why bad things happen.  I gave a short (a sentence or so) version of my post, to the effect that maybe it’s so people will have the chance to be nice.  When something like a hurricane, tsunami, war, drought, or other disaster happens, people turn out with love and generosity.  One of the people in the discussion thought that was awful, but it wasn’t really the time or place to pursue it.  It’s kind of taking what I said in the last post to the logical next step – if the things are going to happen anyway, inspiring people to love and generosity is one of the ways God responds to the disaster or whatever.  Our response is God’s response, and the alternative God has chosen to forcing everyone and everything to march in lockstep. (I could have sworn I’d already written that, but I’m not finding it.)

Anyway, that made me think another step – that if nothing bad *does* happen, people get complacent, careless, and selfish.

It’s been a dream for a long time to stop hunger, and that’s one of the “bad things” people cite when the subject comes up.  How can God allow some people to starve to death?  Well, in America, for all intents and purposes, we’ve abolished hunger.  I’m not saying it doesn’t exist in America, but with welfare and WIC and soup kitchens and school lunch programs and a patchwork of other official and private services, the overwhelming majority of Americans get at least one meal a day.  (If anyone cares, I’ll look up the statistics.)  Have we taken our bounty and tried, realistically, officially, and on a real-world level, to get it out to the rest of the world?  No.  In fact, we have instead put enough work into trying to eat it all ourselves that we have become the most obese population in world history.  (Again, I’ll look it up if someone calls me on it, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a historical period in which as much of the population was as fat as most Americans are.)  We jam more food into our faces daily than many people in previous times and other parts of the world used to see in a week.  We super-size the least healthy foods, and it’s often cheaper to get more food than to get less.  This is not part of God’s plan, any more than hunger is.  Whenever there’s one of those moronic pie-eating (hot dog-eating, etc.) contests, I think about all the people in the world who would pay everything they had to get that much food to feed their families.  That sort of thing is a lot more obscene than any sex not involving children!

It’s not just food, of course.  Although we’ve always moaned about high gas prices, fuel prices in the US have been among the lowest in the industrialized world, pretty much always.  And we got so accustomed to having this affordable gasoline that we started buying bigger and bigger cars, that slurp more and more fuel.  When we’re driving during rush hour here in the DC area, my husband and I often marvel at the size and arrogance of the huge vehicles we see.  No one needs a Hummer, an Escalade, or any of those other house-sized behemouths, to go from one northern Virginia suburb to another.  And, as is the case in most of the US, each of those cars contains one person.  My husband has been led to wonder how many corporals to the gallon they get.  (A friend didn’t get the reference, until I pointed out that no generals have died in our war for oil resources.)  People apparently see no connection between their obscene (that word again) choice to send young people to die in an oil-producing country so that they can sit eight feet above the pavement.

If something wiped out the food or oil production facilities of the US, and we had a famine and/or a total fuel shortage, we’d have to eat less, share more, use public transportation, and work together to solve the problem.  So, would that be bad, or good?

September 28, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My church

For a long time, I’ve felt the lack of a church, and for longer than that, I’ve felt the lack of anyone to discuss theology with.  This blog was started in an effort to help the second one, but since practically no one writes comments, it’s not much of a discussion.

I don’t go to a church because I have mobility problems, and more because I don’t like to get up in the morning, but most because I have face blindness.  It’s not total – I’ll eventually connect face and name, but it takes me longer than most people expect.  But by the time you’ve been to a church five or six times, and don’t really count as a visitor any more, people recognize you and think you should recognize them.  So, picture yourself at church, talking to someone you’ve seen there a couple of times, and pouring your heart out about how worried you are about your brother.  The new person listens sympathetically, and promises to pray for him.  The following Sunday, maybe things have gotten better with your brother and you feel a little silly about talking someone’s ear off about him.  You see the person you talked to, but her gaze passes over you with a vague smile and no recognition at all.  Now you’re sure that she never wants to speak to you again for fear of never getting away, and, half embarrassed, half affronted, you decide to go along with that, and never speak to her again, either.  Little do you know that she prayed for you and your brother all week, and wants very much to find out what happened, but can’t remember who you are!  After a while, I quit going because I’m too embarrassed not to be able to recognize people I’ve talked to.

Well, I’ve finally found a church I can go to without having any of these problems.  It’s the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life, and I’m very happy with it.  I don’t have to get up early, because they have a Bible Study at 2:00 Eastern, followed by church at 3:00.  And I don’t have to go anywhere – just sit at my computer.  But best of all, in Second Life, everyone’s name floats over their heads everywhere they go – I don’t have to recognize anyone!  And they’ll discuss theology with me.  Even when I was taking classes at the Seminary, I couldn’t find anyone who would, but the Anglicans of SL will.  The Bible Study has the same problem most discussion groups do, of running out of time just as the conversation is getting really good.  But on Saturdays at 2:00, there’s another discussion group without a time limit.  I’ve only been there once, but then I left after 2 hours with at least 4 or 5 people still there.  And the conversation is wonderful.

Some people have wondered whether it’s appropriate to have a church in Second Life, but I don’t see their point of view.  If you’re going to have shops, movie production companies, libraries, and clubs (which they do), you should certainly have church, too, if nothing else, to provide balance.  The discussion reminds me of Psalm 139:
7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

   8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

   9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

   10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

   11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

   12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

How about a new version of verse 8:
If I ascend up into, thou art there.  If I make my bed in, behold, thou art there.

There isn’t any place where God isn’t, and if we’re going to spend time on the Internet, we need to know that God is there, too.  So, if you’re on SL, come to the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life, and we’ll hang out!

September 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment