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Friday, February 29, 2008

Why do the Innocent Suffer?

The law of "how it should be" is a God implanted sense that all humans have of life's beauty and triumph. Yet we live in a good creation where hurricanes do not discriminate, where evil befalls the good as well as the wicked, where all that is beautiful is in some sense marred. It is as if some spanner has got stuck in the works.

Atheists of course use this as argument against there being a benevolent creator God. With so much senseless waste and misery should we not rather charge this "God" with being a lousy and incompetent designer?

Let us consider this issue raised in that great novel "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Doestoevsky? Here is a short extract from Chapter 35.

Tell me yourself, I challenge your answer. Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature -- that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance -- and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth."

"No, I wouldn't consent," said Alyosha softly.

That is the beauty of our humanity that we rage against injustice, that we storm heaven with our protests, that we in no way ever consent to the instrumentalism of sacrificing the one for the many.

Now look what God does.

To mend creation he sacrifices himself for all. He places HIMSELF in the breach of death, the place of horror ... and he vanquishes that, closes the breach, brings resurrection to the fallen.

So, slain we live - with our death in Christ.

Somehow, somewhere in the distant past or perhaps a "time" before time or in realm beyond this something became not as it should have been through the very freedom that God imparted to it. And so it is that everyone dies.

Be thankful though that everyone dies .... yes that even the innocent die, NOT because this is itself good but because the world has to be transformed and it cannot be transformed without eternal life exploding out of this merciless death. We scream that this should not be so. Our outrage though was born in a place from which we have been excluded. To see this longing and revolt resolved we need to return to God who can do nothing other than raise the fallen ... and with them creation itself (Romans 8:18-25).

So, why does not God or the angels lift us out of this? By now it should be clear that just as Christ did not call on legions of angels to deliver him, neither can we. VERY occasionally though, the devil oversteps the mark and uses natural death to try and subvert God's plan. This is when the angels intervene. If Christ indeed had faced death before his appointed "hour" (a continual refrain of St. John's Gospel --- "my hour has not yet come") then the angels would have intervened for Him as well.

No, we all have our God appointed hour and that is when we shall taste the bliss of resurrection and when one more piece of creation will be healed. The devil's tactic though is to encourage us to doubt God's wisdom in allowing innocent suffering. He insinuates that Christ should not have died. But when we lift high the cross the devil always scuttles away howling.

Faith is kicking him in the arse/butt as he so richly deserves.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Sharia? No thanks!

Under existing UK law Muslims are already allowed discretion in certain limited circumstances to use their own services and procedures; notably in matters of banking, stamp duty and divorce mediation. This is right and proper for primary legislation is not thereby being subverted. There is one law in Britain that covers all its people.

Sometimes laws are passed that pull against the consciences, religiously informed or otherwise, of some of its citizens. These tensions may be resolved by the democratic process and a sensitive application of derogation for certain groups ... Catholic and Orthodox medics opposed to abortion for example cannot be constrained to perform them.

What we certainly do not need though, in any shape or form, is the application of sharia law for a section of the population. This is divisive, inequitable and erosive of the common values that a singular law must uphold. Far from promoting social cohesion as the Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams believes, this would fragment and antagonise disparate social and religious groups.

Moreover, that a Christian Archbishop should call for the introduction of any element of shariah beggars belief. He knows what happens long term in societies that cow tow to Islamic pressure for shariah. We see this going on in Nigeria right now, especially in the north of the country. Dhimmitude (social repression) of a Christian minority may not be on the cards just yet, but this move would be the thin end of a very long wedge.

Mercifully, judging the reactions of all parties in Parliament, this naive and dangerous suggestion will sink without trace. More worrying though is that the most senior cleric of the Anglican Communion should entertaining such crazy ideas. Sorry Abp. Rowan, I had thought better of you than this.

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