The Heart of the Black Madonna

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Sanctity of Life

There is an ancient Chinese Proverb that states, "May you live in interesting times." Our current age seems to be brimming with this blessing. For the first time in our 10,000 history of civilization, we have the capability to witness events all over the globe through technology. It is hard to discern if life is more intense or we are simply more aware with our 24/7 news cycle and internet capabilities.

It does seem that evil has adapted quite well to our modern communication methods. It also seems as if the nature of evil has taken on a depth unimagined even a decade ago. Some of us long for the simplicity of wars fought on battle fields and civil rights struggles, for it seems at least that reason and justice prevailed in the end. What we face now, on so many levels is overwhelming to even the most courageous. With the onslaught of events, people often sink into fundamentalism of all sorts. They do so because the answers of fundamentalism are easy and the solutions quick. How is it that we can be moral in these complex and challenging times? Who exactly speaks truth? Where are the answers?

For the past several decades, the concept of equating the promotion of life has been the focus of many faith groups. Many Churches and religious groups have poured untold resources into educating and legislating the promotion of "life." What the movement seeks to do is recognize the sanctity of life and the right for all to achieve it through allowing all to be born. This effort has expanded it's influence in the rights sphere, where legislative actions are implemented to restrict access to reproductive technologies and pharmaceuticals. All of this is done in the name of being "life" promoting.

It is easy to rally behind chubby babies, who could be against that? It is also easy to speak up, protest, legislate and work for those who have no personality, no behaviors, who can not argue or act. There is no complexity involved, and those for whom the activism serves, in reality do not exist.

But what about the promotion of life? What exactly enhances life? As Christians, we look at each person as an expression of the divine, as harboring the Christ within. Hildegard of Bingen said that if there was not the action of Eve, then we would not have had the Christ. She also said that the devil hates women, because they birth more people to love and serve Christ.

In this Icon of Hildegard, we see on the left side a picture of a woman in labor. There is a golden tent with eyes inside of it with a thread that goes directly into the woman's womb to her child about to be born. The tent with the eyes is the Trinity, the three layers signifying the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all enclosed in a for sided square which symbolizes the Earth at it's four elements. This cosmic inheritance of Heaven and Earth being the gift of life to the babe, which is being greeted by the community of humanity. I have always loved this picture, for it captures the essence of our divine inheritance and gift that we receive from life. Within our bodies and natures is the miracle of the alchemy of heaven and earth.

But what is life? What exactly is life and it's purpose? While governments try to curtail access to birth control and abortion, in the spirit of being "pro life" on the one hand, they restrict access to food and health care on the other, they wage war, they allow the destruction of their water, land and people for "investment." The recent declaration through the apostolic exhortation by the Pope calling for the end to the idolatry of money gets to the heart of the insanity of the culture of death. "Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,"

A recent report by the Tyndall Center in England said that in order to avert the catastrophic consequences of climate change, the people in the first world will have to consume less. I would put the word "stuff" at the end of that last sentence. If not, the resources of the world as well as the damage to the atmosphere that happens to transport it all over the globe will cause terrible harm to life as we know it on the planet. 

On November 28th a large segment of the American population goes shopping. It is seen as the start of the holiday spending extravaganza. People literally trample one another to death after waiting in line for days to purchase......things. Things they really do not need to live, things like televisions and electronic toys. Things that have been shipped from all over the earth, made by nearly slave laborers in unsafe working conditions, creating irreparable damage to local water sources. The damage to the climate from these products has produced weather patterns that are overwhelming populations across the globe. The death toll by the recent typhoon in the Philippines is over 5000, with an additional nearly 2000 missing. Many of the dead are children who were swept from their parents arms. 

Reproductive technologies are violent, cold and disrupt the cycle of life in ways that we are only beginning to understand. But to champion one's self, government or community as promoting life while only focusing on conception is hollow, if on the other hand these individuals and organizations turn their back on the living. 

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants. Deuteronomy 30:19

We can choose life by feeding the hungry, healing the sick, housing the homeless. We can choose life by consuming less so that our brothers and sisters across the globe are not harmed by the pollution and corruption that is associated with the idolatry of money. We can choose life by paying attention to each one of our behaviors and how they affect the delicate web of life. Let us put as much passion into helping the already living to share in the gifts of life, as many of us do to other activities.

Each of us, the living and the yet to be born, carry the legacy of love from the cosmos within us. Remembering this with each one of our actions towards ourselves, the planet and one another, will truly bring the Kingdom of Heaven upon the earth. Basing our actions, ALL of our actions on the recognition of Christ's permeation of creation, is how we can truly "choose life." 

As we head into Advent, the season of hope for the Incarnation, let us choose life in all of it's glory, majesty and complexity. We can no longer feign ignorance of the consequences of evil in the world, we know how so many in our local and global communities suffer as a consequence of our actions. 

We live in interesting, complex and urgent times, that call for loving courageous acts. Let us honor life by choosing to behave as if the Christ was in every being on the planet, because actually, he is.

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