We Could Be Heroes

Matrix screen saver
Matrix screen saver (Photo credit: Ian Ruotsala)

I feel a little bit like that guy in the Matrix.  The one who betrays all of his allies for an illusion.  He sits in the restaurant with Agent What’s-his-face and expresses the idea, more or less, that he doesn’t really care that he is living in a world of illusion and lies because they are quite enjoyable illusions and lies.

You see, a month or so ago I cancelled our cable television.  And last Thursday, I got in a car accident.   I’ve been riding with people and haven’t been keeping up with NPR.

So it came as a shock, yesterday.  My kids heard the news about the shooting in Connecticut.  I haven’t got any first hand information about this tragedy.  No pictures, no voice overs, no news, no information, really.

I know that I would be effected if I had seen that stuff.

And if I had?  In some sense, I’d be better informed.   I get it that on some level I’d be more qualified to speak about what’s going on.  In some sense, I fully own the idea that I’m like the Judas-figure in The Matrix.  Wanting to live in denial, a bubble.

And yet… this distance bestows a certain different kind of authority.

From this distance, I am able to see something that I would miss if I was closer to it all.

I see that the pathetic, broken weasel who caused this suffering is utterly insignificant when compared with the forces that have aligned against him.

There are the first responders.  And the kids, and adults who were there and faced him.  And the parents and loved ones who helped the survivors through the aftermath.  There is the wider net of systems that works 99% of the time; I am not minimizing the pain and suffering that this abonimation, this abberation caused.

I am saying that we ought to marvel at heroism in so many different forms.  Not just the on-the-spot heroism that occured in Connecticutt at that terrible time.  We should also marvel at the unspoken, unreported, often unknown acts of heroism: the child who finds love amid so much hate, the teacher who believes in her kids after being let down time and time again, the aunt who steps up when mom and dad abondon their responsible, the family friend who finds the words of comfort and love even while his own heart pounds with rage and sadness.

I know that people shout that the world is going to Hell in a hand basket.  I don’t begrudge them this sentiment.  But I actually think the almost-inexplicable thing is that their is goodness.  And goodness with a lower-case g, it is rooted in a Source, Goodness with a capital G.  I think this connection, this rootedness, is why that broken little creature seems to pathetic when compared with the forces aligned against him, so many people, united in undoing what he has done, aligned in preventing it from happening again.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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