Friday, August 04, 2006 by niebuhrian
I can't explain why this morning felt different from any other morning. However, as I sat drinking a glass of milk and reading the newspaper my mind began to work with this idea of balance. Suddenly, everything I sought, preached or practiced felt meaningless. Balance felt like a myth, a never-attainable goal that those who are too afraid to succeed or fail cling to in order to find some security.
We have several magnets that cling to our refrigerator door. Four of these magnets have different quotes that speak of love, passion, dreams or humility. Not one of them mentions balance or striking out and finding the middle ground in the great sea of life. Instead, it seems as though the greatest among us have found that life is best lived when we are no longer bound by the shackles of mediocrity; when we can shrug off the limitations that we impose upon ourselves and dare to see the world for what it is, good, bad, ugly or pretty.
It seems to me, that balance is an American myth that seeks to have everything in small enough quantities rather than the fullness of a few things. Monday through Friday (for some people) we strive for the modicum of success that will allow us to live peaceably and buy the things that the television tells us will make us happy. Too much success means too many responsibilities, so balance is sought in the workplace to alleviate the pressure to continually perform at peak capacities. On Saturday we seek to balance the unfulfilled needs of our work through some form of rest or relaxation, realizing by the end of the day that Monday arrives soon and our tenuous balance will be thrown off kilter for another week.
Sunday (for those of us in Christian churches) is generally the time when we seek just enough God to balance out any guilty feelings we may have had during the week. Too much God and our world is shaken to its core, because with too much God we might then have to love without abandon, live to the fullest of our createdness and care to the point where self-centeredness no longer works. When there is too much God we must heed our passion for justice and righteousness through grace, peace and love. Therefore, we find a balance that lets us live unremarkable lives of safety and comfort. I have an unrelenting disdain for bigoted rigid dogmatic forms of Christianity, much like the ones that occupy the limelight these days. But you know what? At least they are passionate and let you know about.
So, if my mythical beliefs about balance can no longer function as a basis for reality. What next? How do I live faithfully within the bounds of my createdness? How do I ensure that my passion does no harm to myself or to others? That seems to be one of keys to a passionate reorientation for me. Namely, how does my passion meet the world where it needs it the most, and as a result novelty, creativity, hope and love can thrive?
Aimless rigid passion seems harmful to the common good, it lacks creativity and emboldens triviality. Triviality, in turn, leads to evil because it cheapens God, humanity and this world we live in. A recent example of trivialization is tying a much needed minimum wage increase into tax breaks for the wealthiest families, this aimless passion for re-election trivializes the lives of those who are trying to make ends meet in an honest way. Politics aside, theological trivialization does far greater harm than any other form I know. Through theological trivialization, humanity is demonized, dogmatized and destroyed through the uncontrolled passion for control over the thoughts and beliefs of individuals.
Passion is needed in a world of mental numbness. However, passion must be guided by love, creativity, hope, grace and peace. This is what makes us stand out amongst our peers. That through our passion, when we leave this world, we leave it a better place, one where the relationships we share filled with the love and care that continually spreads when we are nothing but dust once again.
grace and peace