Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Angry at God

"But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him."
 – Luke 15:20
When things go terribly, tragically wrong? Who is to blame? When life is unfair and we are punished for no reason at all, who should we be angry at?

Well, the boss; the man in charge. That's God, right? After all, he's the one with the big plan. He's the all-seeing, all-knowing eternal one. He's supposed to care about each and everyone of us.

Our usual response to personal suffering is "I don't believe in God". Why? Because if there is a God then why does he allow these bad things to happen? Or even worse, why does he make these bad things happen?

Fine then. If you don't believe in God, then why are you angry at God? How can you be angry at something that according to you doesn't even exist?

And then to get back at God our usual response is to do things to make God angry. God doesn't like cursing; fine, I'll be foul-mouthed. God doesn't like sex outside of marriage; fine, I'll be promiscuous. God likes us to pray to him; fine, I won't pray. How do you like that God? How does it make you feel? What? You started it, remember? You were the one that punished me for no reason. Are you angry at me? Fine, then I'm angry right back at you.

But, who are you talking to? Remember? You don't believe in God. He doesn't exist.

And who are you punishing? Are you punishing God, or are you punishing yourself? God does not stop loving you just because you are angry at him. God does not love you any less just because you argue that you don't believe in him.

But we are human after all and when we suffer a great loss or great pain, we feel empty; we feel lost. We feel alone. Where is God?

God is there at our moment of greatest pain. At times he may be the only one we have left. God's infinite love and mercy are always there to forgive us and embrace us.

What we need – what we often lack at times like these – is a deep faith in God.

The saints are our role models. They welcome hardship. It only deepens their faith.

Most of us with our immature and undeveloped faith, lose our faith in God at the first real hardship. As children we are given the grace of an innocent faith that never questions God. But as we grow older if this faith has not been nurtured and has not matured, then when our faith is tested it quickly withers.

It is like a young seedling that sprouts quickly. It has all the nutrition it needs to begin life in the very seed from which it sprung. But if the young plant is not given the right amounts  of water and fertilizer and sunlight, then it will never reach maturity.

Our culture is the environment in which we grow – in which we are "cultivated". It is a barren and poisonous environment which threatens the very existence of our faith.

Don't be angry at God. He is doing everything he can to combat the evil one. It is up to us to do our part to create a Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. We can start inside our own selves. We can obtain God's nourishment for our souls by praying to God and allowing him to establish his kingdom inside of us.

Our job is to love God. God's job is to love us. You can be sure that God is doing his job, but are you doing your job?

Don't be angry at God. You are just punishing yourself, by turning away from him. Turn and face God. Convert. Ask him to forgive you. Repent. Feel the joy of God's love. Worship God.

4 comments:

  1. On a different note, (sorry), what do you think of Toby Mac? Made a hugs switch in the music I listen to, until yesterday for the first time I heard the "Ill M I" song. If you can please let me know what you think.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @anon. You ask a good question. I hadn't heard of TobyMac before. I listened to the song you mentioned and a few others by him. For those who don't know, he is a Christian rapper.

    My answer is similar to Pope Benedict's when asked if condoms can ever be good. He said that in certain circumstances it might be a step in the right direction, and so it might be a sign of opening up the heart to Jesus. But that does not make it good. (I'm paraphrasing of course.)

    I would characterize a lot of Christian rap or hard rock in the same way. I think the message is confused because the lyrics may be saying one thing, while the music is saying something else. (You could lump this under cognitive dissonance.) That is because the power of hard rock and rap music comes from a dark spirituality.

    This brings up the issue of how to reach the young with the message of the Gospel. To what extent should the Church accommodate itself in order to be "relevant" to modern society? This was the issue that the Church wrestled with at the time of Vatican II. Can the Church come to a successful compromise with the modern secular culture?

    The answer of the Church in general is that the message of the Gospel can and should be expressed in a way that is accessible to the local culture. That is, it should not be a form of "religious imperialism" imposed on people from the outside. This is clear even in the ministry of St. Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles. The Holy Spirit directed the early Christian Church that the Gentiles did not need to convert to Judaism before becoming Christians. Nor did they have to adopt all of the Jewish customs and laws.

    But at the same time, if we listen closely to the message of Jesus the Christ we realize that it is totally uncompromising in its total devotion to God and its total opposition to the forces of evil. So for example, St. Paul did not preach any compromise with the local deities. (Although, he did take a pragmatic view towards consuming food that was dedicated to the local gods, so long as this did not show any overt devotion towards those gods.)

    In general I would say that the more a Christian celebrity is applauded by the mass media, the more that one should be suspicious that his/her message has been compromised. Christian rap can be a two-way street. It can lead non-believers to Christ, or it can lead believers to turn away from Christ. And the secular culture is betting on the second alternative.

    Our current Pope is very concerned about this problem of reaching out to the modern culture – especially the young. His conclusion, is that the full un-compromised truth of Christianity is what the world truly yearns for. And that when we dilute this message, it loses its power. The message can be "translated" into the language of the young, and transmitted through the new media. But it should not be compromised in the process. (For example, the Church has just recently published "YouCat", which is a version of the Catechism of the Church directed specifically towards young people.)

    Let the Holy Spirit by your guide and pray for discernment. "Lead us not into temptation. And deliver us from evil. Amen." Beware of the snares and traps of the evil one, so that you don't become what Revelation describes as a lukewarm Christian – neither hot nor cold.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to explore this topic. It is hard to walk in this path, but impossible without the Holy Spirit's guidance. Will try to stay plugged in to His word.

    SWW

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi SWW. It's good to know that you are still a reader of Public Vigil.

    I hope I didn't come off as a puritan. One of the things that distinguishes the Catholic Church is that it does not take a puritan attitude. It recognizes that we are both spirit and body. It does not deny one or the other, or give an exaggerated importance to one over the other.

    This begins with recognizing that Christ is both human and divine. Denying one or the other is a source of many heresies.

    What does this have to do with Christian rap? It's my round about way of getting to the point that we can enjoy music other than somber hymns or Gregorian chants without feeling that we are being seduced by the devil.

    In fact in Psalm 150 (the last psalm) it says:
    "Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
    Praise him with timbrel and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
    Praise him with sounding cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!"

    I think the important thing is to keep in mind the Creator as we are involved in these festivities. And not to simply get lost in the celebration.

    There is a real problem with trying to take a music form like hard rock or rap and then bend it to fit Christian needs. Yes, the Church has in the past always adopted elements of pagan culture, but it has sanctified those elements in the process. It has even built churches on top of pagan temples, but it has been careful not to adopt the pagan forms of worship which are in contradiction with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    The ancient Greeks recognized that there are different modalities of music that inspire specific reactions within the human spirit. This relates to the type of scales used, the rhythm and other musical elements; a lullaby is soothing, a march inspires courage in men.

    There are some types of rock music which are deliberately satanic. This is expressed partly in the lyrics, but also in the darkness of the music. On a slightly subtler note, there is a lot of rap and rock that is dedicated to a worship of sex as a purely physical and erotic act. This is an echo of the Dionysian cults of ancient Greece. It is a form of neo-paganism which has infiltrated our society. And again, it is not jus the lyrics, but also the music which carries this message.

    So just changing the lyrics without modifying in some way the music, does not change the message. I would suggest listening to the music (ignoring the words) and try to determine if it is consistent with praising God.

    Finally, there is a form of music which is mostly ignored in contemporary society, but which is highly conducive to a conversation with God. Silence. Once in a while, be sure to turn off all the external sounds. Try driving without any music playing or find a quiet place to sit.

    Society doesn't seem to want us to escape from the noise. And we ourselves have become so accustomed to the noise that constantly surrounds us that we become uncomfortable when it is turned off. Could it be that we are afraid of listening to what God has to say to us personally?

    ReplyDelete