Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, January 11, 2011
If any organism fails to fulfill its
potentialities, it becomes sick.
William James, philosopher, theologian; he
was born on this date, 1842
What Religion or Philosophy or Art does, essentially, is try to direct us to an understanding of our “potentialities” as human beings.
Have you ever read Oscar Wilde’s “De Profundis”?? I read it for the first time in 3 wakeful hours last night. He wrote it while in prison for the “crime” ostensibly of being homosexual ….. but in reality he was imprisoned for challenging the prejudices of the English aristocracy in the person of the Marquis of Queensbury, whose son was Wilde’s lover.
In it, Wilde presents an analysis of Jesus that is breathtaking! I recommend it.
The events of Tucson these past few days can be seen as an example of the truth of James’ insight. Much of America claims to be a Christian country, or followers of other faiths at whose heart is a God of Love and Justice. When you look at the Gospel and the person of Jesus, with some help perhaps from disciples both ancient and modern, there is clearly a depiction of the potential of being Human, of being “as Christ”, of being a “child of God”. It does not square with the behaviour of a huge percentage of American “Christians”.
The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights reflects the potentialities of those who would be Americans. I do not see much of their grand vision being reflected in American Life, culture, politics, or the media these days – and our country reflects the ugliness, especially in the horror of Tucson.
It seems to me that we have failed of our potentialities ….. and we have sickened “even unto death”. The “face” of what it is to be American these days is inhuman to much of the rest of the World (who often do not see the same reflected in their political and cultural lives).
We must recognize that we are sick. We must hold a mirror up to those who are disseminating the sickness, including ourselves if we are part of it.
If the Gospel is about anything, it is about healing and wholeness.
Healing and wholeness, through the medicines of Love and Justice and Respect, is what we need.