Thursday, July 14, 2011

It All Comes Down To This

Calendars are interesting things. By standardizing the pulse of the living world into discrete quanta, calendars give us the illusion that we have control over the future. For example: if we make a "firm" date for dinner at 8PM three days from now then we create an expectation on the Universe that in approximately 72 hours we will be sitting down to eat food. It's a neat illusion.

Of course, at times that illusion crashes down. Theologically speaking, the reason is simple: we are not, ultimately, in control. We do not create the future, inasmuch as God is in charge, has always been in charge, and will always be in charge. Sure, we like to focus on our God's gift of free will, and we like to believe that we can change the course of the future. Even I myself fall prey to the I-am-in-charge side of the paradox of Free Will when I continue to be so deeply moved by Galadriel's line to Frodo: "even the smallest person can change the course of the future."

But just thinking about it even a bit more closely, the paradox rears its beautiful head. Ponder this: if we can change the future, then just who is really in charge here? God, or us? If we take God's sovereignty as a self-evident aspect of our theology, then we must invariably conclude that we can only change the future in ways that God permits. Otherwise, God is not completely in charge, right? Of course, ultimately, this type of thinking takes me to what must be the single Old Testament book that I have come to love the most: the book of Job of course.

The saga of Job has been on my mind a lot lately, and particularly in the last few days. It began early this week as a matter of extrapolating Biblical lessons out of aspects of the Harry Potter canon, but in the last 24 hours I have been buffeted by death multiple times. Nobody I know has died but, ironically enough, it has been people from whom I was precisely two degrees removed. I thank God for blessing me with the ability to support my friends who are in mourning.

The juxtaposition of the end of the Harry Potter film saga with my very recent taste of mortality is unmistakeable. While the story of Job teaches us that ultimately God's machinations are a mystery to us, we still have that never-ending need to figure out a meaning to all of this stuff and a need to believe that all people's deaths, no matter how mysterious, fit into a masterfully crafted Grand Unified Theory of everything. After all, God is in charge... right?

In the end though, I find myself drawn toward the conclusion that those who are still alive must go through the sense of loss, the anger at God, the desperate attempt to turn back the clock, and hopefully then they can arrive at a state of acceptance and learn to find joy again. I pray for this outcome for all my friends who are hurting right now from the loss of people they love.

On a personal note, this first decade of the 21st century was marked by 9/11 but it was also marked by Harry Potter. The decade began with the first film and it has ended with the advent of the final film. It's a monumental achievement, and I for one cannot believe that it's been almost 10 full years since we first saw The Boy Who Lived come alive on the big screen. Yes, he came to fame as The Boy Who Lived. But, in the end, we shall lift him up as a role model, a hero, for something more amazing and much more simple. Simply put, Harry Potter stared Satan straight in the face and he was willing to die for the one thing most precious in this world: love.

μείζονα ταύτης ἀγάπην οὐδεὶς ἔχει, 
ἵνα τις τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ θῇ ὑπὲρ τῶν φίλων αὐτοῦ.
(Greater love hath no man than this, 
that a man lay down his life for his friends.)
- John 15:13
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

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