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Thursday Miscellany

Let’s see if you can follow the Thursday afternoon rabbit trail….

I spent part of this afternoon hearing the story of an Anglican minister who recently participated in the El Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. We talked about the nature of pilgrimages, about history and tradition and communion with saints who have gone before us, about silence and prayer and participating in something deep and wide and long…

Which led to a conversation about the presence (and absence) of iPods and cameras on the route…

Which led to a conversation about our proclivity to digitally capture/commodify everything in our lives and our restlessness if we fail to do so…

Which led to us musing together about whether or how our desperation to catalogue and inflate our real-world experiences online is an outworking of a deep-seated fear of death…

Which led me to think about beleaguered Toronto mayor Rob Ford

[Wait, what?  El Camino de Santiago and our digitally fuelled, illusory evasion of death led to Rob Ford?  Yes, yes, it really did… My mind is a strange thing…]

I wondered if, behind all the alcohol-drenched boorish behaviour, behind the crack-smoking, drunk-driving, prostitute-soliciting, bold-faced lying, bullying, racist, ignorant, outlandish behaviour that is so easy (and, well, let’s face it, deliciously fun) to mock, there might be something like a fear of death and a hunger for God present…

Which made me stop and think for a minute.

Which made me uncomfortable.

Which led me—rather abruptly—away from Rob Ford and into my own soul… It led me to wonder how much of the things that I do are, on some level, the result of a misplaced hunger for God and/or a fear of death… It led me to wonder if God is any less saddened or displeased by my avoidance tactics and misdirected longings than he is with Rob Ford’s…

Which led me, again, to a kind of shamefaced repentance…

Which led me, finally, to a quote from Miroslav Volf.  This is from an essay called “Scaling a Sandy Slope” in Against the Tide: Love in a Time of Petty Dreams and Persisting Enmities:

To use a different metaphor, those who merely seek sensual pleasures, material possessions, or earthly glory are like children whose carefully crafted sandcastles are washed by the waves, like beasts that go in circles with eyes blinkered and necks tethered to the millstone of this life.  If human beings seek to hold onto things that are dissolving and flowing away, they will end up swept away by the current of what is unstable.

The only proper object of human desires is the inexhaustible richness of the eternal God…

Ludwig Feuerbach famously suggested that we project our worldly ideals onto God and then worship them; God’s infinity is the reverse side of human insatiability.  But I suspect that we are involved in an inverse projection, by which we infuse the works of our own hands with the spurious ability to satisfy our hunger for the infinite God.  The endless stream of new goods and services that keeps us running at breathless pace has become for us a cornucopia of mystery, protection, and salvation.  It looks utterly worldly, and yet inscribed all over it is a misdirected desire for God.

Which led me to a renewed commitment to love more truly, to hope more confidently, and to desire more properly.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. BRUTHA YO #

    Luddite don’t be hatin’
    sup wit da freak out thread-thingy makin me feel all like God forsaken and all tha biz bro? an all jus on account yo up in ma grill slammin my instagramin “Rob Ford is undercover youth pastor” Look dude I get it – No need for Volfin’ me wit da fodeesix dolla words to getcha point acrost.
    But I am not a hater nope – shoot man I got an IV hook up feedin me WIFI bro. An da mo I can escape da BS wack of dem self-help relgiousitcos frontin as da real deal – DA BEDDA!
    Yeah I jus laid dat track – deal with it – cause maybe if da high and righteous eva get it on dey could fo once fix something – stead of jus rigglin dirty noses in de air an blamin da devices and vices dat are used to escape da hell dat is now – pretendin like tha hell that is later is sometin way worse yo? Maybe a one a dem cat videos gonna keep a little kid busy while moma is scramblinfor food IN DA FLIPEENS!
    Maybe until der actually sometin to live fo we jus get busy wastin our time dying!
    So show me somtin bedda den a screen an I be da firse 1 on dat wagon HOLLA

    November 15, 2013

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