Oh my goodness. Two inspirations in one day after nearly two years of not writing. I actually had other thoughts that I wanted to put down and work out over those two years but I was simply to lazy. I wish I had as this blog tends to hold things for me and help me rethink as I go back over the years. I am not always in agreement with my younger self but that in itself makes life more interesting.
Anyway, I was reading up on the Abelard and the Moral Influence Theory. I mentioned below that I struggle with atonement theories this time of year. Each year I try to more fully understand them. It has not led to an acceptance of them but has helped me see more of what our struggles and brokenness are when it comes to our relationship with God. Each theory was developed in a period of time and in a specific context. Yet each theory speaks to where people are at still today. As I read I can see how the developers of the theory felt the fullness and awesomeness of God's love as well as their unworthiness and attempted to understand the two through intellectualizing them. They tried to make sense of the love and the cross. For me, they attempted the impossible. I believe that God's love and Jesus' sacrifice are beyond reason and explanation. I can live with the mystery of the depth of God's love shown in the very special space of the Incarnation. For me, it is enough to know God's love.
Don't get me wrong. I am well aware of my unworthiness in my response to God's love. I am well aware of my brokenness. But God's love inspires and compels me to move beyond that to following Jesus the Christ into a better and fuller way of life.
All of this is not what inspired me to write twice today. I was reading under an article on Abelard about Adam and sin. The article spoke of denying that in Adam all have sinned. I have always been uncomfortable with the idea that because of the fall we are all sinners. I see the story of the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil a symbol of our own brokenness on so many levels. This is not the place to go into them. But the idea that we are almost irredeemably sinful because of the actions of Adam and Eve has never sat well with me. So my eyes "perked up" when I read this. Hmm. The article went on to say that it could not be that in Adam all have sinned because there was no agreement of our will. In other words, we had no say in the matter, therefore we could not be held responsible for it down through the generations.
Okay, then that strange and convoluted mind of mine started off on one of its side trips. I started thinking about the residential school issue. I have always struggle answering my parishioners concerns over why we should be paying for our ancestors actions. We had nothing to do with the residential schools. I tend to agree with them. We are not personally responsible for the residential schools. So, yes, on one level, why should we have to make payment for them.
But irregardless of whether or not we were responsible, personally for the residential school system, there are a few brutal realities we need to face.
1. The attitudes that prompted the residential school system remain today. We are still prejudiced against the First Nations people, This is lived out in job markets, prison cells and coffee shops. We need to work to change our attitudes. The whole residential school issue is a wake up call to that fact. In our attitudes we, ourselves, perpetuate the damage of the schools. And so, yes we are still responsible and need to work to change this.
2. Serious harm was done that affects people today. Something must be done to bring about wholeness to all involved. It is not paying for the sins of our ancestors. It is about restoration and growth. We need to work with our aboriginal sisters and brothers in restoring themselves to the fullness and completeness of who they are meant to be. Maybe in that process we will also travel further on our journey to wholeness.
So, the residential school did not actually have our agreement (although given the attitudes that still prevail today I think that is only a matter of logistics at times and for some than of agreement of will). But we do bear responsibility because we are one people. We are not First Nations. We are not white. We are God's people. We are one under our Creator. When one of us is hurt, we bear the responsibility and gift (not burden but gift) of reaching out to bring wholeness and healing. The residential school system inflicted damage on both our cultures and yet only one culture really bore the pain of it. It is only fair that we shoulder up to bear our share of the pain and burden. We need to work for restoration and for reconciliation so that we are no longer two separate people but rather reconciled as one, celebrating our diversity of culture and deepening our experience of life.
Just some initial and imperfect thoughts while I avoid reading up on the atonement.
Love and Prayers,