Thursday, November 22, 2012

Conversations with Ourselves: Making Peace with Chaos

One of the most frightening things about my journey into the realm of endless questions is the chaos. For Christians, or any believer,  their faith grounds them to a tangible answer, it can give hope during chaos. But even then some of those religious answers don't make any sense especially when bad things happen to good people. How then do we deal with chaos?

A believer would hold on tighter to their foundation, to their god, and hope and pray for the best. If things go their way they thank god for watching over them and move on, if not then the most likely acceptable answer is that god had different plans for them. This mentality exempts you from really dealing with the chaos of life. As long as god is in control you don't have to face the chaos of life, you don't have any real reason to empathize with the suffering of others because god is in control of their lives. Whatever happens is suppose to happen for a greater plan (which begs the question why even pray during hard times when your suffering might be a part of The Plan?). This was one of the breaking points which caused me to drift away from Christianity. I absolutely can not accept that human suffering is "good" and necessary in fulfilling a divine plan. Any suffering is just that, suffering. But instead of wishing it away or hoping that an invisible, silent god (who apparently thought it OK for you to suffer) would take the pain away, we should be seeking out a more human approach. We should support each other even if we're powerless to help, sitting silently with those in pain does more good than a powerful, silent god.

The best visual example of the struggle with chaos is in the 2009 dark comedy film by the Coen brothers, A Serious Man, a film about a physics professor, Larry Gopnik, whose life begins to crumble around him even though he's been a good man, a serious man.

It was a difficult transition moving from a reliance on a silent god towards making peace with chaos. There were many low points in my life where I truly wanted to wish/pray things away. But that wouldn't have solved the problem nor helped me to deal with my emotions.  I feel this transition has strengthened my empathy towards my global neighbor as well. And as we strengthen our relationships with our global neighbor the easier it gets to face the unknown. Where once I simply blamed the troubles of a stranger on their lack of faith I now realize that the rain does indeed fall on the just and unjust. So why not reach out and share an umbrella?

Part 1) Conversations with Ourselves: The Question
Part 2) Conversations with Ourselves: The Internal Struggle
Part 3) Conversations with Ourselves: The External Struggle
Part 4) Conversations with Ourselves:  Reflections on Who We Were
Part 5) Conversations with Ourselves: Making Peace with Chaos
Part 6) Conversations with Ourselves: Making Sense of It All


Andrew said...

Excellent. Having stepped away from faith, I notice how much believers DO NOT deal with suffering. It is shelved, ignored, re-packaged, or silenced. Believers struggle to BE with someone in their pain... or to deal with their own. One of my students mother is dying. When I talked to her, she was amazing... no denial, no re-packaging. She said "Sometimes life just sucks." She was facing what WAS in ways that I never saw growing up around believers.

captron52 said...

great post Sam! Im with you in that I cant believe that if "bad" things happen to us it is because a God is either testing us or trying to make us "better" in some way.Its much easier to just say well , its all Gods will than it is to take command and try to make ourselves better with each bad event. I cringe when I hear a christian person say its all because of the way God wants it.I guess whatever works for you huh? Thanks again for sharing your views.

Don said...

"I absolutely can not accept that human suffering is "good" and necessary in fulfilling a divine plan."

Couldn't have said it better myself, Sam.

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