I am not bored this week. I am in the final week of a difficult semester with projects and exams and other whatnot’s due at the beginning of next week. Our entire house is still sniffling through the remnants of the latest sickness to ravage our little family, so there’s that as well. I am definitely not bored in the sense of having nothing to do, or doing nothing I have to, but this quote by Henri Nouwen deals with the dislocating power that modernity can have on us as we attempt to understand the Christian message.
It will likely be a week of quotes and borrowed but meaningful passages for the blog as I am attempting to harness my thoughts to interpret Pauline motivations in Romans and human understandings in marriage and family. But on some level, other than the Scriptures and those close to me, these are the authors and the words that have shaped how I think and, maybe more importantly, how I question.
For modern-age people life easily becomes a bow whose string is broken and from which no arrow can fly. In this dislocated state we become paralyzed. Our reactions are not anxiety and joy, which were so much a part of human existence, but apathy and boredom. Only when we feel ourselves responsible for the future can we have hope or despair; but when we think of ourselves as the passive victims of an extremely complex technological bureaucracy, our motivation falters and we start drifting from one moment to the next, making life a long row of randomly chained incidents and accidents.
When we wonder why the language of traditional Christianity has lost its liberating power for those who live in the modern age, we have to realize that most Christian preaching is still based on the presupposition that we see ourselves as meaningfully integrated with a history in which God came to us in the past, is living under us in the present, and will come to liberate us in the future. But when our historical consciousness is broken, the whole Christian message seems like a lecture about the great pioneers to someone on an acid trip.
– Henri Nouwen, “The Wounded Healer”
Read it again. Trust me. Nouwen points out that if we begin to see moments and days as disjoint random occurrences, then we will have a terribly difficult time seeing how our story is integrated into the redemptive narrative that God is the Author of. Our story is wrapped up, inextricably, with Noah, David, Paul, Philemon, and even Jesus. What modern technology can do, slyly and silently, is creep into our minds and hearts and keep us from seeing ourselves as anything except anthropological blobs who know no more than right now.
We are a part of God’s story, and His story is one of beauty and grace and redemption and love. May we not relinquish our role in that grand tale for the numbing effects of prime-time stupidity.