Monday, July 21, 2014

21st century (post-modern) reflection on Psalm 90, part two

This is an continuation of yesterday's post, interacting with Moses and his observations about God.

And now, Part Two, Observations about us. (a total of 7)

  1. Our dwelling place is You. We’ve looked at the reverse side of this: that You are wherever we dwell. We are hard-pressed to dwell outside of You. I’m sure this was of great comfort to a guy like Moses. But to us in the 21st century, it seems invasive. We try to find ourselves and be our own persons. But escaping the reality of You, our extraterrestrial Big Brother, is an ongoing effort. Our lives are busier and more hectic than we’d like, and with over six billion of us on the planet, one would think You’d have better things to do than to be with each one of us.
  2. We are made of dust and return to dust. Basically, we are one with this planet we developed from or evolved on. We like to think of ourselves as star dust. Moon dust. Celestial dust. But we hardly believe in celestial whatever, because we know it’s just fairy dust in the end. Glitter that children play with and delight in. We are realistic about our humble beginnings and inevitable end. What we don’t get is why is there something down deep that longs to be immortal? What is the yearning for something after this and after death? It lurks in the shadows of our minds and unsettles us.
  3. We are like new grass in the morning and dry and withered in the evening. I already mentioned that we don’t like this image. Our efforts to extend life expectancy have done us credit. The fact that we all do end up dying in the end is just a fact of mortality. We actually accomplish quite a bit in the short span we have and feel that we ought to get some recognition. We build on one another’s achievements and our technology is awe-inspiring. We put a man on the moon! We have sent missions to Jupiter, for heaven’s sake.  (Hmm, for our sake rather.) So for people who have grass-like life expectancies, we have nothing to be ashamed of.
  4. We are consumed by Your anger and terrified by Your indignation. And what have we done to deserve this? For the most part any more, I don’t think we even contemplate Your anger and Your indignation. It was a much bigger factor of life back in Moses’ day. Back before they knew about things like global climate change, meteorite showers, and terrorist attacks. But even without a conscious thought of You, it is interesting that fear determines much of our lifestyle and terror highlights our news reports. From hand sanitizer and vaccines to bullet proof vests and wars of containment, we are on a mission to protect ourselves from enemies visible and invisible, known and unknown. In fact, when in doubt, we create enemies to defend ourselves from. But we’d rather not include You in the picture. You are much too frightening. You are our cosmic bully. We don’t like bullies.
  5. We have no secrets from You. Our privacy is invaded by You. We have developed ways of hiding our thoughts and plans from one another. But we are absolutely exposed before Your all-knowing Eye. You remind us of Sauron’s Eye in Mordor. Penetrating, relentless, and we resist its intense ability to see deep into us. Our lives become occupied with putting up barriers and walls to hide behind. When we think we are safe and slide down against the barricade with a sigh of relief, we sense Your presence, hear Your breath and wonder how close You truly are.
  6. We finish our years with a moan. Yes, we have roughly 70-80 functional years and then it’s curtains. All over. Even those years are full of trouble. The regrets are painful, the accomplishments irrelevant. We are finished. Whether we go out sleeping, fighting, resisting or welcoming, it’s all the same. Whatever is on the other side, there is no return. We’ve tried it and extended life, but in the end, we all die. The longer we last, the less appeal life has anyway. Life itself wears thin. So we succumb where we have no choice.
  7. Who knows the power of Your anger? We certainly do not. We have no concept. Our filmmakers are spectacular and have given us multiple mind-bending visions of apocalypse: the end, the inferno, the ultimate destruction of the world, humankind, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe. You name it, we have some creative talent with computer generated graphics depicting the unimaginable. But we cannot begin to imagine You. We grapple to take in our own human destruction: the Holocaust and Hiroshima are still hard for us to get our heads around. When we put our minds together, we can effect a lot of pandemonium. But what about You? You put all the galaxies together in the first place. We’d rather not think about what You would do if You were riled. We are blind to Your power and creativity, and we’d rather stay that way.

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