Monday, November 22, 2010

The End of Hope

My husband was listening to some church chants the other day and one line in the chant struck me, "Our God alone is great." Recent materialist atheists have tried to insist that God is Not Great, which makes you wonder, with a title like that, why they're atheists at all.

Anyway, along with Christopher Hitchens' book, there is also Sam Harris and his presumptuous book title, The End of Faith. Now although Sam Harris likes to pretend he's a materialistic scientist, his book is actually quite full of superstition and Buddhism. The last chapter, in fact, argues that Buddhism is somehow a true materialist religion (if that were possible). Now I have known some real materialistic scientists in my day, and their reasoning is marginally more logical than Harris'. One professor I had actually believed that all scientists should be agnostics; as if the scientific method should govern your whole life if you are a scientist (scary the implications that might have for childraising)! However, if the material world is all we see, and there is no God, or possibly no great one, than why continue to function as human beings at all? The end of faith inevitably leads to the end of hope.

Hope is only possible in a universe with a good God. It is not possible in a universe with no god, and it is not possible in a universe with an evil or capricious god. To trust that any action we do could possibly be of any value to any other human somewhere, is to function on the principle that God is Great. When this is seen through the light of the Incarnation, God's goodness and greatness are staggering. Words fail me, but a friend of mine wrote this when reflecting on an insignificant colony of ants:

We could say He cares nothing for our pain. We could say He is not good. We could say we don't understand why the sky isn't all rainbows and why the common cold exists. But we would be fools. And somehow, He would still like us.

How much do I care for these ants? I think I care. I'll stop to watch their wars. I'll buy my children documentaries--insect tributes. I won't crush them when I can help it.

But, if given the chance, would I be willing to become one of them? Would I be willing for them to drag me to the place of execution, taunt me, mock me, ridicule the gift I offered, a gift entirely beyond their comprehension? Would I be willing for the earwig, executed beside me, to add his insults to those of the ants? Would I be willing to die?

Hell no. Never. I have more self-regard than God does. I have less love for the characters beneath me.

N.D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl

Happy Advent.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our Own Personal TSA Nightmare

In light of everyone recently realizing how scary the TSA full-body scanners and pat-downs are, here's a little story about what happened to us this summer.

We were flying out of White Plains, NY airport back home to the west coast. My 4-year-old would like to be a farmer when he grows up, so he likes to wear his overalls. Having no idea of the nightmare we were in for by letting him do so, he wanted to wear his overalls on the airplane.

Going through the metal detectors, my husband and I split up--he took the 6-year-old through and I took the 4-year-old. Of course, the metal straps on his overalls caused the metal detector to go nuts. The attendant instructed him to go to a waiting area to be "wanded," and told me that I could wait with him.

When the next attendant arrived, he told me that both myself and my son were going to need a full pat-down! I was now a suspect, because I had "touched my son's hand while in the waiting area." My husband saw the commotion, and my refusal to comply, and came over to argue our case. The TSA supervisor was called to say that if we refused a pat-down then we could all "find another mode of travel." We were outraged. My husband insisted that we would neither be pat-down, nor would we leave the area. We are all for catching terrorists, but how on earth does a pat-down of a 4-year-old who's wearing overalls aid in catching criminals? The TSA supervisor stated that it was all just to assure the other passengers that they were "safe." "For goodness sake!" I cried, "How would a pat-down of a 4-year-old make me feel safe? That makes me more scared to fly!"

Basically by being difficult and insisting on our rights they finally just gave in and let us go, thank God. While sitting in the waiting area, trying to calm down we heard the following announcement made by the flight attendants, "Mr. Saladin...Mr. Saladin...would you please board your plane immediately for Washington, D.C." Hmmm...and you went after the 4-year-old in overalls, instead of Mr. Saladin heading to the capitol building?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Mystery To Me

Usually, while driving, I give pedestrians the right-of-way. This probably stems back from driver's ed when we had to attend traffic court for a day and take notes on the cases. I remember someone came to protest a ticket he was given when he cut off a pedestrian who was crossing the sidewalk. The driver was wrong and still got the ticket.

Anyway, it is a complete mystery to me how this deference has gotten me into trouble. The pedestrian sees me coming, stops, and starts waving me ahead of them. I absolutely refuse (I AM the one in the vehicle), and insist they go first. I have received no end of nasty looks, waves, curses, glares, and shaking of heads as a result. Whenever I happen to be the pedestrian, I'm always grateful to those cars who show deference, and usually wave and say thank you. Is this just because of the weirdos I live around, or do all city pedestrians tend toward nastiness?