Thursday, September 6, 2007

What We Want

I am part-way through the book, A Peace to End All Peace, by David Fromkin. It is a marvelous and well-written account of the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the machinations around World War I. Fromkin deals with the behind-the-scenes political wrangling of the parties involved.

As he lays out the mindset of the British, Fromkin points to their desire to discern and deal with an individual, who was the authoritative voice for Arabs. The British, upon discovering the difficulty of the task, even attempt to create an authoritative voice. To their dismay, no one Muslim leader or politician really held sway over the entire region of the Middle East.

To the amateur historian, the futility of the enterprise borders on comical. It seems like trying to grasp water in your hand. The water simply runs through your fingers.

The British approach to the Middle East is a kind of parable. We are often wedded to an approach that refuses to provide the results we desire. Yet, we are so invested in the sensible nature of the approach, and to our comfort with it, we refuse to try something else in the search for results.

The current political climate within the Episcopal and the Anglican Communion is difficult. There are many voices attempting to achieve desired ends. The “straw man” is the issue of homosexuality. But, I can’t believe there is not more at work. I know too much Church history to believe it is so simple. The Church has known factions and conflict since her birth. I wish it were as simple as the development of a structure to solve our problems. Has that ever really worked?

The more pervasive and enduring problem is that we want what we want. Does it matter what authority we appeal to justify what we want? Any faction can find a piece of the Bible that in isolation is justification for what they want. Anyone can play that game. There is no shortage of bishops saying what we want to hear. Some have chosen to make new bishops to shout even louder. Are we really getting anywhere?

The Bible is authoritative for the Church. Instead of using it to justify what we want, we ought to read it, and discover what it says. God called a people into relationship. God’s people never quite get it right in either Testament. They fail and falter. God continually reaches out to them through reproach and repentance. The promise is that God’s grace and mercy are sufficient.

Maybe, we should halt our efforts to play God and concentrate on our need of grace and mercy. If we take the Christ seriously, we should be asking what God wants, and hoping to discover that through grace and mercy.

Mark 14:36

Jesus said, “Abba, Father for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.”

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