I think it’s true that as a people, we have come to an unprecedented time of opportunity. What we could accomplish because of the advances in so many things seems to be near limitless. Yet in many ways, it also seems we are devolving in a way. And today I was thinking of that old Yeats poem, The Second Coming, written just after WWI. I think it is also surprisingly timely today. But it’s also quite confusing. No one ever said Yeats was the arbiter of truth or clarity about life, but his work does–at least in my instance–make a brother think.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
the ceremony of innocence is drowned;
the best lack all convention, while the worst
are full of passionate intensity…
This poem says much about war, and the chaos it brings. In many ways now, we as a people are at war. “Anarchy is loosed upon the world.”
And I think about who the enemy is in this war. Many these days would say it was the President. Yet if one follows in and believes scripture, and in the sovereignty of Jesus, we must also consider what scripture says about the state of things. I don’t know that this president, or any president, is named.
From Ephesians 2: 1-3–
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Like the rest of mankind. To me that suggests none of us are blameless, whether donkey or elephant, progressive or conservative.
among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind.
If it feels good, do it. If it’s right to you, how can it be wrong? Must all things hold to the same order?
What about the ceremony of innocence being drowned? I don’t know about there being a ceremony of innocence. In other words, a ceremony or graduation which at the culmination declares us innocent. Why would we need a declaration of innocence? Aren’t we innocent until proven guilty?
Sure, in a court of law. Except that is not what this is. It’s a world where to many, life has no sanctity, no matter the color of skin, or the tenets one holds to. No matter the age, or gestational status of a person.
In the immortal words of the poet and prophet Ice T, on the latest Body Count album, “no lives matter.”
And I think that’s where we are today. Culture and many beliefs would dictate that life is not significant. To some it seems like climbing to some height and raining bullets onto a group of people–or into a group of people–is the thing to do to ensure that your life means something in the end, even if what it means is that you’ve taken life as part of your own life, and ensuring that you are noted, and a part of history.
No lives matter.
Except they really do. I believe that. Even with the turmoil my life has occasionally been, I believe it. Even with the second law of thermodynamics (entropy), I believe it. Even with the pontifications of William Butler Yeats (things fall apart, the centre cannot hold) I believe it.
I believe it because of Psalm 22, and the depiction of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53.
I believe it because of the 40 or so words of the apostle Paul to the Galatians:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20, ESV
Consider also Psalm 139:16: “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Yet with all that, murder is still murder. And each of our lives matter. We can make something of them. We can matter, too, even if it is only to God. So, yes, Mr. Yeats. Things do fall apart. But I disagree with you on whether or not the center can hold.
I say it can, if we make Christ the center. If we hold life as sacred–created by God, to be taken by God. Not by a madman or madmen, to whom a human life is nothing. That person has their fame now, their infamy.
And an empty eternity to think about it.