The people of the world have been living through challenging times recently, to say the least. Pandemics, a war in Europe and in other places too, not to mention the political turmoil of populism, autocracy and the undermining of traditional democratic values in the most deeply democratic countries. What has been true most of the time, is beginning to be questioned.
There have been so many times like this throughout history, when a general malaise seemed to fall on the world, and everything seemed threatening and out of control. We live such short lives that we don’t really have the perspective that allows us to see our own times clearly. I know, this hardly seems like a “religious” article. Hardly the kind of thing a Christian should be saying. But that is precisely what Christians have been saying for two millennia: that the world is broken, and in need of serious TLC. But also, that there is Good News: there is a reason why we feel lost and need to make up our own philosophy to survive. We should reject the pie-in-the-sky answers of “religion”, science or whatever, and be satisfied with nothing less than Reality. We need to ask serious and honest questions and stop being satisfied with second-hand ideas.
One of the characteristics of this disillusioned and lost generation is that we have taught ourselves to believe in contradictory things. We have accepted theories and philosophies that seem profound, but are, on examination, nothing but assumptions and based on nothing but abstractions. We take our stand on certain statements of principle that have no foundation in reality, and don’t even notice, because we simply accepted them without thinking them through. For example: to those who say they don’t believe there is anything beyond what can be empirically proved by scientific means, I say “Prove it”. By definition, you can’t. If there is a reality outside what we can observe with our senses, then we cannot disprove its existence through observation by our senses.
This may seem academic, but look around you. These assumptions and theories have had an effect on how we live, how we act, how we connect, or fail to connect with each other. They are slowly destroying us and the world in which we live. How many of us would like to swap places with our children or grandchildren and live in the world we see coming to them? That says something, doesn’t it?
Perhaps the biggest myth of all, accepted too easily, without thought or reason, is the claim that “people are generally good”. The sad fact is that history teaches us quite the opposite. Yes, most of the time, people can be incredibly generous, brave, resilient, self-sacrificing too. But, as Joseph Conrad portrayed it in his novel “Heart of Darkness”, the basis for the movie “Apocalypse Now”, civilization is just a very thin skin laid over a deep and dark reality, and all it takes to bring it to the surface is a crisis, a trauma that overthrows normal routines. Think of the violence that can be unleashed in war, or when parents see their child being threatened. When normal constraints are removed, when people are no longer answerable for their actions, terrible things can happen. Even the tone and language used on social media can be shocking and disturbing, and can come from individuals who would never think of saying to someone’s face, or in company, the kind of thing they write online. It is clear that society is not improving in this area, and we are certainly not the “civilized” society we once thought we were.
This “progress”, this Descent of Man, is inevitable unless there is something more, something that transcends and gives real meaning and purpose. So here is another thought: by definition, there can be only one Supreme Being (which we call God). You can’t have two Supreme Beings, because then they are not supreme. If you want to have many gods, then each one cannot be Supreme, or God. The question then becomes: is there one Supreme God?
Isn’t this worth thinking about? Isn’t this even more important, ultimately, than politics, sociology, psychology or hockey? This is not pushing my beliefs: if it were, I’d be telling you how to live, what to believe, etc. This is simply asking questions and suggesting that there may be answers worth looking into. Christianity is not, perhaps, what you’ve always thought it was. It is not going to church, it is not having a particular political bias, and it is most certainly not about power, position or titles. Most of the time, we can live with things as they are. But sometimes, we need more. There is more. He is there, and he is not silent.