Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Burning it All Down
That's the temptation, the mood, the zeitgeist that's propelling our nation through this strange time. On some levels, I can understand it.
But as a nation, we really don't know what that means. Once you tear it all apart, things get...unpleasant.
I know, things seem bad. And in some ways, they are. But that yearning for apocalypse--for the end of brokenness and the beginning of restoration--is not facilitated by destruction. It never has been. Never, in the thousands of years of human history, has burning it all down worked out.
That's because the yearning to destroy and the yearning for apocalypse aren't the same thing.
If all you want to do is burn that mother down, burn baby burn, to bust it all apart, then you're not thinking apocalyptically. There's a much more precise word for total obliteration by fire, for burning devastation.
Holocaust. That word is "holocaust."
Holocaust thinking is, to put it mildly, not a good thing. It is the yearning that destroys the good. That destroys everything. It is ashes and horror. That holocaust fire burns in the bright eyes of the zealot, of the fascist and the brownshirt, of the Jacobin and the Bolshevik.
Apocalyptic is different. It's a word from my faith tradition, and understood correctly, it is an unveiling of purpose and meaning, a casting aside of the things that stand between us and our gracious potential as creatures. Apocalyptic communities are communities of hope, communities that orient themselves towards the active participation in that reality they wish to encounter.
They are not communities that call for holocaust.
I see a whole bunch of folks not really grasping the difference lately. Just let it all burn, let it all burn, and then lets see what's left.
But that impulse comes from making an idol of ideology, of choosing to close ourselves off from the reality of what we're doing.
Ours is a small and fragile world, one that--with its Creator--has always yearned for us to choose hope and reconciliation over our hunger for the flames.