Sunday, July 24, 2005

A Friend Reflects

A old and good friend sent me this e-mail this week. I think it is a thoughtful and very worthwhile reflection and asked him if I could post it on JtM. He agreed. Comments welcome.


I write of a certain form of guilt. As you will recall, when thermonuclear death was a clear and present danger, and when we faced each new year with about a 2% chance of major war, I made it my project to pray for the Politburo's conversion. Rather than simply focus on 'the conversion of Russia', I prayed for those grim old thugs.

Whenever the thought came to me I prayed; I prayed that the Holy Spirit would go to them, then and there, and gently trouble their minds with perceptions of the numinous, and realizations of a greater value. I imagined them caught in family gatherings, in meetings, arranging thuggeries, or disporting themselves with ballerinas, and believed the Holy Spirit, if asked, would set about them.

With my sense of who God is, I imagined a gentle sense of divine humour at work, rather than a fearful writing on the wall. This did not mean that we should not be willing to contend with them, or to meet them in the rubble for a final settlement over cold steel, only that we should pray without ceasing for God's purposes, which must surely bring a happier outcome.

When I said those prayers my own neck was on the block. Thermonuclear war would certainly kill me or make me wish I had been killed.

This spectre having passed, I ceased to pray without ceasing. Once in a very great long while I would still pray for the conversion of Russia, especially as the new thugs, gangsters and kleptocrats gained hold, but I was guilty of having stopped because my own life no longer seemed so clearly in the balance.

The same must be said of the present unpleasantness. I do pray, but I pray that we will not kill them all in some apocalyptic frenzy. I do not pray for their receipt of the Holy Spirit, or for their redemption, and I suspect that this is in good part because my own skin in not obviously in the balance. The only other explanation is that I believe in some actual limitation on the Holy Spirit in the face of our enemy's religious belief, that our enemy is so wicked that the Russian Communist Party was a spiritual pushover by comparison.

It is to limit the Holy Spirit.

So I will start praying for those guys and for us too, that God speak sanity to our hearts, even though, in this scenario, I see a different doomsday scenario: our guys are on the on the happier end of a flame thrower, and Osama bin Laden is cowering in a hole, and on the receiving end.

Surely the test of faith is that we pray for the grace to refrain from evil, not just that the other guy smarten up.

Suancho Panza
Squire to the Knight of the Wholeful Countenance


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