thread: 2006-08-31 : I think my expectations are screwed

On 2006-09-06, Sydney Freedberg wrote:

Vincent, Dogs in the Vineyard is the most sincere and thoughtful struggle with faith, conscience, ideals, and practicality that I've ever seen in all of gaming: I think you already respect the power and importance of religion, for good and ill. This discussion so far has magnified our very real differences and minimized our very real common ground.

So I don't think I need to convert you to my position, let alone to my religion. Now, I would like to advance out of "moral bankruptcy," so at your invitation, I'll stop talking in historical and sociological terms and enter where angels fear to tread, but my Christianity may not look entirely idealistic to you, Vincent, I'm afraid:

Lord, I believe: Help thou my unbelief! (Mark 9:24)

I believe that the world is screwed up, that people hurt and fail each other all the time, and that I fall short of the person that I should be, every day.

I believe that I cannot perfect the world, or myself; that if I demand perfection, I will become a monster of frustration, fury, and self-hatred; but that I can offer forgiveness, and a second chance, and a third, and a fourth, "seventy times seven" and more. (Matthew 18:21-22).

I believe, like my brothers and sisters of every faith I have ever heard of, that though evil and entropy wrack the world around me, they will not win in the end.

I believe that there is something essentially and fundamentally good in the world, in people, and in myself; that this good is the source of all that exists, rather than some evil demiurge, amoral forces, or blind chance; and that this good endures.

I hope for the resurrection of my body; but whether I have a soul or not, whether I have an afterlife or not, whether I am bound for heaven or hell or nothingness, is secondary to my faith that something good endures forever: what I pray in my desperation and despair when I lie awake at night is simply, "Lord—exist!"

I believe—unlike my animist brothers and sisters, as I understand them—that this essential and fundamental good is a person, not an impersonal force; and—unlike my polytheist brothers and sisters, as I understand them—that this person, God, is a unity, not a multitude.

I believe, unlike my Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters, that God did not only create the world, but chose to inhabit it; that God does not only observe history, but entered into it; that God did not only give us life, but became one of us.

I believe, in spite of all our evil-doing and in spite of all our failures to do good, that to be a human being is something so profoundly holy that God himself (herself) was not ashamed to become human, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ.

I believe that God's incarnation as Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine, shared and hallowed every essential aspect of our human life: to be carried in the womb, to be born in blood and pain, to breathe, to eat, to drink, to sleep, to piss and shit, to rejoice at a wedding (John 2:1-10), to weep at the death of a friend (John 11:33-35), to feel fear at the prospect of dying himself (Matthew 26:39), to break bread and drink wine with his friends and say farewell (John 13; Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22), to be betrayed by a loved one, and to suffer, as we suffer, pain and death—and then to rise again, triumphant, the good enduring in spite of everything the world can throw at it, in the promise that we will rise as well.

I believe that every single human soul—yours, mine, anyone's—is so precious that God was willing to die in order to save it.

I struggle to treat everyone I meet as God would have me treat them: as beings of infinite worth, destined for eternal life, free to do good or evil, but always worthy of forgiveness and always capable of redemption.

I try to remember that every time I look into another person's eyes—even when I look into the mirror—that what looks back at me is something sacred.


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