Ok, first, for an update. This week Katie has had steady work which is great. She is filling in for a maternity leave all next week, then the following week she’s supposed to fill in for a different maternity leave throughout the rest of February, through March, and I think into April. So, while it’s substitute pay, so it isn’t much, it’s going to be steady. So, it will be something. As for me, I’m learning to play as Katie’s brother Will calls me, Mr. Mom. So, we’re adjusting, but it’s really not going too bad. For Christmas we had gotten Cari tickets to see the Imagination Movers, so we go to do that tomorrow, which we’re excited about.
Now, on to the thoughts for the day section. As I’ve been reading various things I’ve been forming this idea, but it’s still really fresh for me, so it’s not well packaged and polished. But, I figure this is a blog, not a book, so it should be ok. I just hope there’s enough to kind of follow the idea.
I finished rereading a book by Mark Kurlansky called Nonviolence 25 lessons in the history of a dangerous idea. To say it’s thought provoking is a massive understatement. It challenges me in a lot of ways, but those are the kind of books that are so much fun to read. In any case, in it there is a quote from Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu from the funeral of Steven Biko. He said, “Pray for the leaaders of this land, for the police – especially the security police and those in prison service – that they may realize that they are human beings too.” Now, I know that Jesus said to pray for your enemies. I try to trust that prayer can work wonders in both us doing the praying and the enemies for which we are praying, but what he is asking people to pray for is odd. I mean it seems like he would encourage people to pray that these “enemies” would see that the people they are oppressing are human beings too, something like “pray that they would see that we are human beings too.” But, no he says pray that they, “realize that they are human beings too.”
Now, I’m also re-reading Rob Bell’s book Sex God. Which is quite an odd name for a book in the “Christian” genre (but it makes for a lot of fun to call bookstores and ask about copies, “Do you have a Sex God?”). But, this book is about the connections between our sexuality (much more than simply sex) and its connection with our spirituality. At one point he begins talking about how whenever we treat other people as things or commodities, it doesn’t just do something to the person being objectified, but also to the person doing the objectifying.
See, the idea is that the Garden of Eden Creation story shows us how we were created to live, what it looks like to be truly human. Part of that is the connection with each other. When we see the “fall” take place, the two lose their connection, their ashamed of their nakedness, hide, and begin to play the blame game. To be truly human is to see the divine image in those around us and to connect on a deep level because of that. When we objectify and abuse, when we fail to see the divine image in those around us, something happens not just in them, but within us as well. We become less human, less than what we were created for.
But, what if your “enemy” was to begin to, “realize that they are human beings too”? Connecting with the divine image within themselves, “they” would also begin to see it in you. If “they” can become more human, then this is good news for you as well. If “they” can become more of what “they” were created to be, only then can “they” begin to see the divine image within you as well. Now, you may be wondering why all the quotation marks around the word they. One reason is that I’m not sure that an us/them mentality is actually helpful because really in the end there is just us, everyone is we. We all have this divine image no matter how scarred or fractured, we are all human. But, the other reason is that if we have an enemy, then chances are that we in some situations also are a “they”. So, suddenly the question becomes flipped. Who is it that I am likely to miss seeing the divine image within? Who is it that I villainize, demonize? Maybe it’s time that we turn around, face up to where we lack, return to the garden state, to what we were created for, and in so doing see the divine image within our enemies.
We need to pray for our enemies. Maybe we even need to pray that “they” see that “they” are human too. But, maybe we also need to pray that we see that we are human as well. Because, when we objectify others we lose a part of who we are. We lose a piece of our true humanity.