Basic Questions Series: Why Sin

The Raising of Lazarus

This autumn at Holy Trinity Brussels, we are going through a series on basic questions of faith and Christianity. Last week, I started things off with “Why God”. This week, we heard a sermon on “Why Sin”. So, for the next few months, I will be posting responses and thoughts on these topics every Monday. So, for today…why sin?

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Reign of Peace

They ask me where I’ve been,
And what I’ve done and seen.
But what can I reply
Who know it wasn’t I,
But someone just like me,
Who went across the sea
And with my head and hands
Killed men in foreign lands…
Though I must bear the blame,
Because he bore my name. — Wilfred Gibson, “Back”

A century.

A century. In geological time, it is not that long. In cultural time, in the time of the hidden movement of our collective moral unconscious, it is less than moment. The ready-made graves of the trenches do not appear distant, like the fallen walls of Troy, but they are present. They are present in our abilities to make war on the same technological scale that the First World War initiated. We’ve just gotten better at it. The trenches are present, filled with their dying men and boys, in our faces and our names and our languages. We are the hollow men, still and always.

Continue reading

The Violent Center of Christianity

isaac

“Death, then, contains the germ of life. There is no life on the communal level that does not originate in death. Death can appear as the true godhead, the confluence of the most beneficent and most maleficent forms of violence.” — Rene Girard

If there is one phenomenon that goes beyond human understanding, it is death. It is the undiscovered country, which rests on the other side of the farthest shore. And in our modern society, it is even more mysterious, since it is so professionalized. There are two general feelings towards death: those who embrace it as rest and as the beginning of something new, and those who recoil against it as the shroud of the unknown and the loss of everything known. Either way, death is a violent interruption of the course of the human experience.

Continue reading

The Insanity of Extremism

 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” — Jesus

It is a fact of history and of psychology that people kill and will die for faith. Whether this is seen as devotion or extremism depends on who is doing the killing and who is doing the dying. It is one thing to die because of one’s faith; it is another thing to kill for one’s faith. What drives people to this? And does extremism hold logically?

Continue reading

Europe’s Scapegoat?

“The most daring provocations and the most shocking scandals have lost all power to provoke and shock. That does not mean that violence is no longer a threat; quite the contrary. The sacrificial system is virtually worn out, and that is why its inner workings are now exposed to view.” — Rene Girard, “Violence and the Sacred”

Are we unfazed by violence? When the news comes in from around the world and from our communities, we hear about the death of hundreds from war, the continuing destruction of ecological systems, the abuse of children, the implosion of marriages, and the struggles of the migrant, the disposed, and those in poverty. Are unfazed by this? Are we stirred to life? To action?

Continue reading