Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Final Insecurity.

I decided to finally visit the Princeton public library this afternoon in order to look around. I figured I would definitely check out the movie section to see if I could rent any documentaries. I ended up picking up a few, and decided to watch one entitled Children Underground. This incredibly somber documentary follows a group of homeless children who live in the subways of Romania. Decades ago, the Romanian government was concerned about the population decline and the subsequent effects of this upon the work force. They decided to outlaw all methods of contraception, and countless unwanted children were abandoned and left in orphanages as a result.

I didn't know how to process everything that I saw in this film. Your sorrow for these children feels meaningless as their lives are deemed utterly worthless by society. People pass them by like they are invisible. Few give them money if they choose to beg. They spend their days hooked on inhaling glue in order to fight off the pains of hunger. I even watched one girl get beaten by a total stranger because she wouldn't stop crying in the subway from being so hungry. Two of the children were taken back to their home and were reunited with their mother and stepfather. The parents were almost shocked that their children had returned and acted as though the fact that they were still alive was a burden too great to bear. They preferred their kids to stay in the country's capital so they had a greater chance of making money on the streets and getting food since the parents were laid off from their jobs.

These sorts of films are so raw with human suffering and hopelessness that you aren't quite sure how to react or what to think. It is this sort of senseless suffering that makes me ask countless questions about the Gospel and the Christian faith. Where is God in the lives of these children? What would it mean to tell these children that there is a God who exists who loves them? Would it even mean anything to them? Should it? Why do I get to sit here and view this film passively as these children are probably sleeping right now on cardboard boxes?

The questions keep coming with no answers. This sort of suffering makes you question if you can even discern in this life where God intentionally provides and where God does not. This film reminded me once again of the radical insecurity that comes at the heart of the Gospel. And it reminded me that the only place where the Christian can have faith that God can be found is in the event of the cross and the resurrection. I can't be certain or have faith that God moves anywhere else, though I hope God does and will work. And I think this lack of certainty and security is what it means to be a disciple and long for the Kingdom come that is not of this world. We don't hope for a renewal or restoration of this world. No, we hope for an entirely new world. A new creation.

I think Barth preached it best with this sermon he delivered on April 4th, 1920:
"Jesus places us in a final insecurity, not only in our relationship to ourselves and other people, but also in our relationship to the world and all that is. What is the world? What is nature? history? fate? What is the space in which we exist, and what is the time in which we live? What do we really know? What does it mean that we know only what we are able to know? As long as this final insecurity is not disclosed in us, we are still sleeping. But in Jesus we awaken. The insecurity is disclosed. The sure ground of our understanding begins to quake and sway beneath our feet. We may relate to Jesus as we wish, but this is completely clear; Jesus counts on God, and that means on an existence, a being, a power that is in no place and at no time. He stands in the service of a power that breaks through fate. He knows a history, and he himself is the hero of this history, but it is not world history. There flashes like lightning in him a nature that is on the verge of blowing away what we call nature, as dynamite blows away rock. He lives in a world that is not our world. "Heaven and earth will pass away!" [Mark 13:31 par.]. And even if the whole New Testament were a fable, this fable would have the highly remarkable meaning that in it a certainty emerges that makes everything else uncertain. "I saw a new heaven and a new earth" [Rev. 21:1]. That is Jesus. He is victor. And that is Easter."

- Karl Barth, The Early Preaching of Karl Barth, 135.


Jay Jay said...

Glad I found your blog.
Please stop by and say hello.

Frederick Froth said...

You might very well ask the question re the children pictured on this website:

Also Google depleted uranium deformed babies of Iraq and Afghanistan

What is truly horrific about this is that the mothers and babies of Iraq and elsewhere will be afflicted by this horror for quite literally for forever and a day.
USA military personnel will of course also be thus afflicted.

Of course that was given as a "gift" to the mothers and children of Iraq via George Bush's "enduring freedom" Shock & Awe CRUSADE.

And of course one of the loudest advocates of that was general Boykin - my "god" PENIS is bigger than yours.

He is of course still promoting the same aggressive world-view, and the same aggressive "god".

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