Monday, June 20, 2011

Hell in a Hand Basket

I recently attended an all-day retreat with the ministerial staff of my church. As prompted by a document prepared by our senior minister we each shared responses to questions regarding our core beliefs, the future of The Church and our personal and professional goals for the coming year. One of the questions urged us toward a view of humankind – where are we headed?
The answers that rolled forth were marginally varied but all very positive - until it got to me. My response was, ‘We’re going to hell in a hand basket.’ These folks know me well so this answer did not really surprise them. They responded with mock groans and comments that chided me for being so negative and pessimistic. They know me as a happy-go-lucky guy so these friends and colleagues are always surprised that I hold such a fatal view of our human destination. As much as I love, respect and admire these colleagues I find their ‘faith in humankind’ postures astonishing on at least 3 levels: logical, intellectual and scriptural.
Soon after this time of sharing we took a break for lunch. I invited anyone present who wished to speak with me about my global pessimism to grab a sandwich, a Bible and the front section of any newspaper and join me for lunch. I had no takers. It is not a good feeling to be perceived as a fatalist – especially when you’re nothing of the kind. Frankly, ‘I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!’ But that ‘peace that passes all understanding’ is not a product of my faith in humanity; it is anything but.
Thirty minutes in front of any television newscast should give any rational mind reason to be a pessimist. Fifteen minutes reading any newspaper should bring any breathing human being to his/her knees. Momentary consideration of the need in front of us all should have any sensitive man or woman crying out for mercy. Logically, I have concluded that this world is going to hell in a hand basket.
For 59 years I have witnessed our world wobble to-and-fro from one war to another; one leader to the next; one super power to another; one plan for peace to another war; one dictator to more corruptness; this poverty to that poverty; this crisis and that crisis and those crises all at once. I have heard pledges, speeches, kings, presidents, religious leaders, reporters, talking heads and all manner of promises and plans to bring permanent change to the ravages we face on planet earth. As I write this my country is engaged in at least 3 wars (call them what you will) and toying with at least one other. Genocide is being perpetuated by evil ones cross the globe. Greed has all but destroyed our world’s economy. Drug wars annihilate countless of innocent citizens on every continent. Diseases once eradicated from the face of the earth are returning. This is not what I call progress. Intellectually, I have concluded that this world is going to hell in a hand basket.
The Bible has called us to help usher in The Kingdom of God. The way I read it we are expected to do this by loving one another, serving one another and assisting the least of these. Also, we are expected to carry The Gospel message of repentance, forgiveness and grace to the ends of the earth. However, real peace will not be realized on human terms. Whether we like it or not the very best we have to offer is as filthy rags to God. We are incapable of final, total and eternal reconciliation with one another; it is not in our human DNA. Peace will only come with the return of Christ. I did not make this up. Spiritually, I have concluded that, without Christ, this world is going to hell in a hand basket.
You don’t want to know what we discussed after lunch.

1 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

Thom,
It's been awhile since I've read your e-posts. Your posts from a few weeks back stirred some thoughts........especially the one titled "Hell in a Hand Basket". I agree with your comments in your post. I am a proud American and do my best to support all good efforts by our government. But as you wrote, it's hard to pick up the paper, or turn on the evening news without feeling we are , for a lack of a better phrase, "near the end". I just turned 50 last week and many thoughts and reflections were upon me as I celebrated the big 5-0. I love sports and music...... the good of both. Very little good comes from both. When I read that a athlete holding out for a $120 M contract, because $105 M w/$40M guaranteed is not enough, I simply am beside myself. When I get in my car with my 13 year old adopted son and hear lyrics on the radio" I had her open all night like 7-11" I want to cry.
French Lick and West Baden, IN were fierce rivals in the day. Hated each other.....with passion. In 1958 the inevabale happenned.....the schools consolidated. That very year the basketball team, consolidated and all, went to Indiana HS final four. It united that community forever. That's a sports story I want to hear. Won't happen today.
Sports and music have been my interest all my life. I thrived on waking up and lstening to WAKY in Louisville every day as a kid. Reading the sports section newspaper in the morning, reporting the two hitter or the 5 TD passes had all of my attenton. A new single on the airwaves was like a beam of light on my simple life.
So yes, its real. Its invated the world of sports and music. So, tomorrow, I'll spend my late afternoon throwing the football with my son. Friday , four middle aged guys will head four hours south to hear four middle aged guys sing about Love Lineage, A Talking Old House, A fool named King, Mississippi, and the real game of baseball.
See you Friday night, 9:30, table # 1.
Jeff Tarr
Greenwood, IN

October 12, 2011 at 9:53 PM  

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