Monday, November 8, 2010

Levels of commitment, including to God

We could write a book on this topic. I'd rather discuss it in conversation and Q&A format, but since that is not possible at this time, I want to jot down some thoughts here that will help you to align your thoughts and philosophy about commitment. It will help you to understand faith-and God himself-more clearly, and your own perceptions and actions.

First, I want to give some secular examples about how it is difficult to truly understand someone else's commitment to "a cause" or a truth over time. Commitment is not an absolute that remains unchanged by time and circumstance. An easy example is two different soldiers in an army. One seems the more totally committed, being very patriotic and military based in his or her orientation. The other person is more casual about their commitment, being correct in their service but not outstanding. However, in a battle, the first performs correctly, doing his or her duty, while the second one, back pressed to the wall, performs an extraordinary act of courage and losses his life for the greater good, whether the course of the battle itself or to protect his or her buddies under fire. Who was, in the long run, the "most committed?" The "higher" on the "commitment 'scale?'" You can see that such a view that it can be measured or compared is entirely bogus. One goes on to a honorable life long service to country and military, while the other average Joe or Mary had average service, and then in a burst of heroic circumstance, gives his or her life. You can't really weigh between the two at all. Each walked their own path of service, honor and righteousness.

There is much argument about the value of an aging life, in a time of pressures to allocate medical costs and even have "death panels." Consider this, then. There is a temptation to look at someone's "contribution" to life. OK, let's look at that. One person is a "producer," who is still active in some highly value societal role. The other was a wallflower, kind of a person who blended into society at large, perhaps a housewife and mother, who is now an aged widow, and whose children are away. She is in a nursing home and increasingly "out of it," and thus not a "contributor." Who is more "worthy" of a fixed number of health care dollars? Well, let's look at what happens. The first person, yes of course, goes on to be "productive" until his or her death. People feel a righteous glow when they get all the medical expenses "care" that he or she needs throughout. Liberals especially feel awesome and "good" in making sure he or she can be "productive" and receive entitled medical care. Cool. The other person slowly fades away in the nursing home. She gets less awesome care because she's old, alone and "dying anyway." No one does anything bad to her, but the mindset, of course, is that it's a low payback investment to give her excellent care at the end of a fading life. Perhaps so. But have you considered all the payback, really?

One day a nurse aide at the nursing home is discouraged, she is young and just starting out, studies are hard, money is tight, hours are long. She is tending to that woman and while so, they talk. That old lady gives the nurse's aide a little encouragement, speaking from her own humble experience as a mom. Like a tiny mustard seed, her words actually matter to the discouraged aide, and over time, especially after that nursing home resident dies, the aide has a new lease on life, a new encouragement, just from that casual conversation near the end of the woman's life, but toward the beginning of the aide's. She goes on to be a great success (in whatever measure of success you have).

Which person was more "committed to productivity" and "worthy?" The first person does their job and leads their life like "normal," by "normal" current societal expectations. The second person was "just a mom" and an "old lady" yet without an agenda, gave advice, not some secret formula, but just good old mom type of belief to the nurse's aide who tended to her, when that aide needed it, and it ended up being a life changing conversation that only unfolded in its significance over time. Good thing that old lady wasn't euthanized, huh?

Suppose the old lady was in a coma and could not talk? They still have total worth as humans because HELPLESS HUMANS ARE LIKE CLAY IN YOUR HANDS. ABUSED OR NEGLECTED ALL YOU DO IS DEMONSTRATE HOW FAR YOU ARE FROM BEING GODLY. After all, the Bible and the Qur'an explain that God took inanimate dust, clay, and made human life. Even when a person is not "productive" or even conscious, they are still the clay by which YOU who ARE "in power" demonstrate if you are godly, and give them the most care that is possible with dignity and life GIVING orientation, not TAKING, or if you are publicly or in secret, against being godly, for you rob the person of their dignity and "manage" the "amount of care" that they receive. Trust me, the dust that God created man from wasn't worth too much either.

So which of the two people, the normal life as "productive" or the normal life as aged end of life "mom" was more committed, more worthy, and more "productive?" You cannot possibly compare: no human being is even 1 percent capable of such an evaluation.

Now, look at being committed to God. There is no point where you are "safe" and "committed enough." Each person throughout their life works on their commitment and even follows different forms of commitment (or even detachment, as ill advised as that may be.) Again, you cannot critique someone else's form of commitment to God: only God can do that, and He will. There is a difference between speaking to someone on a wrong path (such as idolatry), so I'm not saying "live and let live" there, because their eternal soul is worth at least one chastising conversation with them, face to face....or what I am speaking of, which is again, you cannot as a human evaluate someone else's commitment to God. That is the heart of the totally bogus argument about Catholic celibate male priests. People have no right to claim that they are "entitled" to a form of commitment that was in place even before Christ, which is the celibate religious male. John the Baptist was such. At the time just before Jesus, there were many men who were celibate, often living as ascetics in the desert. Men have a perfect right to continue to follow God in that form. Christian men chose to emulate CHRIST in that regard, not the apostles, so the argument that deacons were men, women, had families and sex lives is bogus, because it has nothing to do with the FACT that there is a group of people, celibate men, who select via their calling a form of commitment to God called the Catholic priesthood. It's not like a job title.

So what does a woman do who wants to preach? Well, duh, the first thing to do is to recognize that it is an EQUALLY VALID BUT DIFFERENT FORM OF COMMITMENT TO GOD. I mean, Einstein didn't even have to be channeled to explain that one. I enjoy certain women's preaching very much; those who are firmly rooted in service to God with a genuine heart, not as a power grab. Sometimes I like to listen to Joyce Meyer when I'm channel flipping. One reason is that she is proclaiming the Kingdom, not trying to chip away at someone else's form of commitment (like the priesthood) as a power grab.

I have never met a woman who truly "wants" to be a Catholic priest. They want that "job title," but they don't want what it really is, which is a MAN who decides to follow CHRIST by giving his all, including celibacy. It's like this: I never wanted to be a Boy Scout because, duh, I'm not a Boy. I was a Girl Scout for a year or so but was bored because it was too poorly led locally by women who didn't have their heart in it.

Think back to that example of the soldiers. If one really wants to commit to God, one simply has to commit to His Kingdom first, and then walk through YOUR OWN LIFE based on that commitment. It may just being a good and honorable guy or gal through your life, or it may be turning your entire life over to God. As we see by failed priests, it is not the title or the form of the commitment that is worthy, but the worthiness that the person brings to their choice.

A mediocre priest may, without his even knowing, led very important people to Christ (by important I mean those who might have been lost otherwise). Like the elderly mom, even an average priest saves souls. But someone who is on a total ego trip about their "calling" may turn away people from the Kingdom, as they bog people down in worldly power and attachment, politics, divisiveness and argument. So a "top bishop" may work against the Kingdom without even realizing it, because they make it "all about them and their calling."

I hope this is helpful. I understand this is just scratching the surface of the topic, but I have faith you all have brains, ha, and surely get what I am pointing you towards here.