procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

sunset or scum?

we were given a couple of marriage books - one good friend gave us The Good Marriage, we bought Married for God, but at the moment we're reading one another good friend gave us, The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason (Multnomah, CO: 2005).

what i was challenged about most recently was the way we think about people. chatting with someone about the work they used to do, i was taken back to hear the language used to describe their clients. sure, they were repeat offenders, you could even say stupid in their actions, but there is still a way you talk about fellow human beings, recognising their value as worthy of value and honour and respect, due not to themselves, but to their createdness, to their being God's image bearer.

but when reality kicks in, we see this doesn't shape our actions and our time - i would much rather walk in the forest, watch a sunset, watch nature documentary - than hang out in a dodgy venue in King's Cross, at night in the back streets of Macquarie Fields, in any number of the world's slums and ghettoes.

Mason writes:
The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset.
[T]here is nothing in the New Testament about beautiful sunsets. The heart of biblical theology is a man hanging on a cross, not a breathtaking scene from nature. For the Bible is centrally concerned with love, and the wonders of nature [...] touch only remotely on love. We cannot really love a sunset; we can love only a person.

pp46-47. emphasis added.

create in me a new heart, o Lord, that i might see things as you see them.

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Blogger byron smith said...

I heartily disagree. Has this writer entirely thrown out the Old Testament? (not to mention all the bits of the New Testament that indeed affirm the glory of God over and in creation). Humanity is made in the image of God, but this doesn't render the rest of creation irrelevant or godless. And humanity's special place means that standing next to a human also puts you "closer" to the devil. Jesus didn't mind taking time off to go away from people. I could go on. Of course it is possible for a romanticised view of the non-human creation to become an excuse for misanthropy, but this danger doesn't justify throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

4:35 am  
Blogger psychodougie said...

hi byron.
thanks for your riposte.

in the rest of his book (i'm still not far through it) he does indeed affirm the goodness of creation, so in that context i didn't feel he was against this world to the extent the short excerpt made out.

perhaps one could still say that God values humans in a different way to the way he values creation.

i guess one thing Mason does differently to books like Christopher Ash's is focus on humans as the pinnacle of creation, yet not intimately linked with. he emphasises the couple and what they reveal about God. so, yes, he is tending towards a perhaps unhealthy philanthropic viewpoint.

thanks for your thought-provoking feedback. hope all is well in the borough.

11:44 am  
Blogger byron smith said...

Sorry - my first post may have come across as more aggressive than was necessary (or than I intended!). I guess I've just been reading some ecotheology that is quite critical of certain forms of simplistic anthropocentrism.

9:13 pm  
Blogger Elsie said...

one good friend

Awww, shucks :)

12:37 am  

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