From Politics & Religion, to Guns & Art the world has not always been as it is. There was a time when the questions outnumbered the answers — even a time when questions might remain unanswered or take a lifetime to ponder. Today a question is confronted with pages of search results and answered in the blink of an eye.
Or is it?
Everything we see around us — every news report, every institution, every action — is an answer to some question.
But what are the questions?
Politics and Religion
It has been said for years that things can be better if we elect a particular politician or party (vote Whig, progressive, republican, democrat, democratic-republican, unionists, labor party, Communist, know-nothings, nationalist, Marxist (anti-Nationalist), Green party, the purple party — I had no idea there was a party so honest as to carry the name the “know-nothings”). These political groups propose answers to many different issues: immigration, emigration, war, peace, torture, human rights, health care, freedom, cloning, marriage. One party may say we must build a wall to allow only limited migration and the other party may want free education for everyone. However, there are profound trade-offs in each and a dangerous cocktail could be created when combined. For instance: how do you fund educating an unlimited number of people and what about their clones? Just thinking theoretically; does a clone count as the same person or a separate person? I think I know, but how do you prove which is which under the law? In classroom; Can you cheat off yourself and can you prove it’s not you or not the one clone taking the tests at school for all the others? Is it your moral duty to educate my endless supply of clones or mine, or even their own?
These are some very complicated issues that deserve better analysis than politics can offer — and some have deeper moral issues involved. One party may want to solve the issue of homelessness for its people and accuse the other parties of being callous or “pro-homeless.” (Seriously? Who is in favor of actual homelessness?) Competing ideas are good; open and honest debate is essential to find the best solution; and it is fair to consider the repercussions and alternatives for a proposed solution but it’s not always clear. “How” and “when” — or even “why” — are not one size fits all propositions.
For example, Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me” (Mathew 26:11).
So what does He mean? Does Jesus not care about the poor? Perhaps “money will not solve poverty“? Or does He mean that they are primarily “poor in spirit” and that we should address this as well as physical needs? Jesus was about to be betrayed and handed over to be killed. A woman had honored Him by pouring an expensive oil on His head, preparing him for burial. His disciples proposed that this oil could have been sold and the money given to the poor and Jesus said their priorities were wrong. The disciples could have proposed a grand scheme to feed, house, and clothe the world with free education for all, but Jesus corrected them. He even booked marked what He said forever,“Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
I sometimes ponder this passage and each of the people. Was Judas, in proposing to sell the expensive oil, seeking to enrich his pockets at the expense of God and the poor? The jar contains the equivalent of about a years wages, and she pours it out to honor Him. As Jesus said, we are free to help the poor all the time. So what would be the best way to help the poor in a manner that would honor Jesus? Is poverty solved with money, work training, or self-esteem? Can a rich man still be poor in the sight of God? To be poor in spirit is far worse than poor in material things. Perhaps that is also what He meant — and why we have the wealthy and the poor to this day: to remind each of us of our real need in this world and what it means to help each other. I’m just asking the questions, because the poor in one country are often considered to be wealthy in another. So while material poverty may be retaliative, spiritual poverty is not. Jesus said we should help each other. We could use politics to help the poor, but He gives us a priority of theology to guide how, when, and why we help each other — so that we don’t just give our hard-earned money and our vote to Judas.
Guns and ArT
But what if were all Judas? I mean what if we all put our wants, needs, and feeling ahead of others. It’s not just the politicians and Judas that might put themselves first, the story goes way back to Genesis 4.
When Cain killed Able, God asked Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” But God already knew Cain had killed Able — He sees everything. I love the fact that God asked him if he knew where is brother was. God could have simply zapped Cain with lightning from the heavens, or asked Cain “why do you think your brother is with me now?” In asking him, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain had to consider what he had done. He had to consider where he was in relation to God and to Able. Let me explain; Able offered God what was required and it was well received. But Cain did not. If Cain had traded some of his produce for one of Able’s sheep and offered it to God, this would have been acceptable too. But Cain wanted to follow his own ways rather than God’s (even in his desire to please God!). Cain became angry of Able and killed him. The issue was really not about the act of killing, Able was with God now. The huge issue was Cains’ heart. You can not ban enough rocks to prevent Able’s death because the problem is with the heart of the killer. God did not ask him “What did you use to kill your brother”. God asked Cain, “Where is Able your brother”. So what did God do? God gave Cain time to consider what he had done and turn his heart back to God and to do what was right.
So what did God do? God gave Cain time to consider where his brother was, where he was, and time to turn his heart back to God. “When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” God did not send lightning but it sounds like Cain will now work hard and wander the earth. I’m sure there is a political party to represent his plight — “The right to a murderous heart” party, the “wondering-the-earth” party, or the “anti-hard-work” party. Maybe if we just ban stones, or made heavy rocks really hard to get, it would be somehow better. Scripture is not clear on this but if Cain used his bare hands, then I’m not sure — it could a denominational issue or start the “hands-free” political party.
It’s the heart! From the heart flows a man’s actions — every word and every motion of every limb that is given him to control. With the same hands, he may create a work of art or strike down his brother with a stone.
It is interesting that destruction comes so naturally but that creative works like Art take skill and training. The artist must have the persistence to train his hands to express and create what he will. Whether he works with paints on a canvas or with stone creating sculptures, or in music, dance, or song — art is a desire — a will — that is not an immediately achievable. The same hands that can kill can also create, can love, and are hands that can be lifted towards the heavens to praise their creator. In some ways I imagine we are the art of God — an expression of our Creator bearing the impression from the Artist Himself. We have the desire to create because we are like Him and He loves to create. It is said that a sculptor sees the image in the stone and removes everything that is not right. As Gods art, I suppose he must be removing the parts of me that do not look like what I am to be.
If this is in a way true then both Cain and Able were works in progress and it would make sense for God not to send the lightning bolt that Cain deserved. Cain as much as Able was loved by God even as he raised is hand against his brother. You see toppling a statue to the ground is a crime, most of all, against the artist and so God asked Cain “Where is Able your brother”. God was continuing his work on Cain and on us as we read this. God offers a path to heaven through Him and we should allow him to work in us. We can be saved from the broken rubble and made into Gods art again.
What will you create or more importantly with what heart will you create? Will you create for good or evil? Will you be guided by wisdom in all you do? Will you create Robots with artificial intelligence, rockets to distant stars, drones to fight new wars, arms for the clone wars, governments that ‘wage peace’, or distractions from our own ingenuity? So many answers, but with what question did all of these answers begin? Whose artwork are you?
In a world full of answers it’s important to find the questions.
Leave a comment I would love to know what you are creating 😉