Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Song: Dear Lord

This post is probably crude and not medically related, but I recently heard a song written by Joseph Arthur, entitled Dear Lord, and it struck a chord somewhere deep inside. Such was the impact that I wanted to share my thoughts. Here are the lyrics:


I can't take what's going on
With my friends and family
I can't take what's going on
Baby, with you and me

I'm sorry for the things I've done
I'm sorry for wanting to run
But Dear Lord when you did not come
My faith was gone

With this world gone to hell
And my freedom locked away in jail
Lord it's become so hard to tell
If you're there at all

I'm sorry for the things I've done
I'm sorry for wanting to run
But Dear Lord when you did not come
My faith was numb

Fail me, I don't need to shout
When I turn your water into wine
Fail me, I don't need to shout
When I turn your water into wine

Is there a chance to be redeemed?
Is there another night to dream?
Lord are you somewhere unseen
I believe you are

I'm sorry for the things I've done
I'm sorry for wanting to run
But Dear Lord when you did not come
My faith was born

Fail me, I don't need to shout
When I turn your water into wine
Fail me, I don't need to shout
When I turn your water into wine


The lyrical interpretation is open to debate, but the theme seems to echo the voice of someone who ‘waited’ for God, only to sadly realize He is absent. This is a controversial statement as many believers swear they ‘see’ the Lord every day, figuratively. They often personify God as individually speaking and delivering instructional divine messages. Ideally, an intimate mode of communication, but most would say God speaks through Scripture. In naturally conferring human characteristics to God and facilitating the notion that a fulfilling lifelong personal relationship is attainable, the idea of a personal God becomes appealing and sets the stage for a potentially fulfilling belief system. One accepts the Faith, lives according to the doctrine, finds peace in spite of latent doubts, and disposes his will to sync in harmony the concept of God and all the elements that embody the Faith (e.g. the church), with the reality of the Human Condition and our immediate surroundings.

This harmony however comes at a price. Accepting its most fundamental tenets as indivisible everlasting truths while observing the apparent evidence that leads one to instinctively question some of them can be unsettling and conflicting. For example, in the home front and overseas, during natural disasters (e.g. Katrina, 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, etc.), believers empathize with the tendency of people to lose their faith. But this is disingenuous.

We should not be empathizing only in trauma. The point I am alluding to has plagued theists for centuries, the most intractable and terrible dilemma of religion: God is personal, merciful, loving, and all-powerful. He apparently can also stand idle as thousands die of poverty each day, populations are ravaged by natural disasters, innocent children suffer and die from hunger, and justice is conveniently thwarted. In response to this clear inconsistency, throughout history, conflict-ridden theodicies have been fed to believers and embraced by religion. These range from the often cited Origin of Sin explanation (attributed to St. Augustine) which gets God off-the-hook by attributing the existence of Evil and suffering to man’s rebellion/sin- God did not create Evil, to the Irenaeus’ theodicy which posits that God allows for suffering as part of His gift of Free-Will to humans- essentially God conceives of such suffering to avert a robot-like creation, and as part of an global divine plan.

The simplest rebuttal conjured is instinctive, and one of my favorite authors, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, through his fictional character, Ivan Karamazov, debunks elaborate rationalizations. In regards to the Origin of Sin explanation, any reasonable human would agree with Ivan, “If they [children], too, suffer horribly on earth, they must suffer for their fathers' sins, they must be punished for their fathers, who have eaten the apple; but that reasoning is of the other world and is incomprehensible for the heart of man here on earth. The innocent must not suffer for another's sins, and especially such innocents!” It is easy to sweep the dirt under the rug with such simplistic explanation as the Origin of Sin. It’s unfathomable to a child to believe, once he loses innocence, that his suffering is a direct cause of his forefathers- a blameless punishment. The explanation falls short and although it may suffice many, it flouts the people who genuinely wonder why Adam’s succumbing to temptation of a Fruit could justify meaningless suffering. Such vindication exudes an aura of unfairness and crude blindness to the real philosophical issue at hand- the presumption that a real, all-loving and powerful God exists who also allows meaningless suffering. The kind of affliction that sinks your heart, and disturbingly resonates with anyone who openly tackles the truth; suffering like the one that ‘Pulitzer Price’ winner, the late Mr. Kevin Carter, captured on camera during the Sudan famine of 1994:




If indeed there is some mysterious, grandiose plan concocted long before our existence to justify the reality of most, then it will seem unfair to those who get the short end of the stick. This parallels the belief of many - that God created and predestined some people for salvation and others for damnation, according to His will. A more reasonable explanation is that a natural lottery exists that by random chance places people in different milieus- to little Sanjaya it was the slums of Mumbai, to me it was the inner city of a rich country…

In addressing the free-will/divine plan justification, I again will quote Ivan:
"And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price. I don't want the mother to embrace the oppressor who threw her son to the dogs! She dare not forgive him! Let her forgive him for herself, if she will, let her forgive the torturer for the immeasurable suffering of her mother's heart. But the sufferings of her tortured child she has no right to forgive; she dare not forgive the torturer, even if the child were to forgive him! And if that is so, if they dare not forgive, what becomes of harmony? Is there in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive? I don't want harmony. From love for humanity I don't want it. I would rather be left with the unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my unavenged suffering and unsatisfied indignation, even if I were wrong. Besides, too high a price is asked for harmony; it's beyond our means to pay so much to enter on it. And so I hasten to give back my entrance ticket, and if I am an honest man I am bound to give it back as soon as possible. And that I am doing. It's not God that I don't accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return him the ticket."


So why is there suffering and where is God in this process? […insert answer here…] This is precisely why the Song resonates with me. My reason for struggling with the Faith is not unique, and to my bewilderment, it is anything but a struggle for others. An important point to underscore is that by accepting reality and its unanswerable mysteries, one does not necessarily lose Faith, but rather it opens the door to a new kind of faith- one that is not based on a concept of a personal God or a religion. As a former Christian, whenever I felt guilty for doubting God, I should have embraced the internal scuffle as a liberating experience; real faith does not equal uncertainty and doubts do not equal inherent lack of faith, and more importantly, the truth is found as we continually seek. This truth is for us to continually discover and rediscover.
The song lyrics end with “But Dear Lord when you did not come. My faith was born.”

4 comments:

JustAnotherGirl said...

"So why is there suffering and where is God in this process?" - I am a Christian but that is one of many things I struggle with in my faith as well. Sometimes it is also really hard for me to believe when almost nobody else around me does, especially in the science field, like most of the professors at my school.

Hapi said...

hello... hapi blogging... have a nice day! just visiting here....

File said...

Download Forum Poster V3 3.0 at FileAfro.com

http://www.fileafro.com/view_forum-poster-v3-30.html

Keyword said...

hello... you may submit this blog to my webBlog Directory, keyworddir.info.. have a nice day!

Keyword Directory