Tuesday, May 22, 2007

We Want The Way Easy

"Arm-plug" by Philip Straub

We live in an "instant" culture where everything is expected to be easy, fast, and convenient. The more we have the more we expect. In a never ending cycle we are over-stimulated and over-whelmed with facts figures and fantasies. A teacher of mine, the late Rabbi Edwin Friedman, used to say that in the late 20th century, "Data was a form of substance abuse."

What does this have to do with Jonah? The part of the story that everyone remembers is that Jonah is swallowed by a fish/whale. Why? Why did God do this? Why three days? Someone has said that the smelly interior of the fish was Jonah's "timeout room". Time out -- a place to pull yourself together and prepare to take your act on the road. If you never knew that you had a problem (namely yourself) repentance and amendment of life couldn't take place. It is only when Jonah is up to his neck in seaweed and fish juice that he "gets it".

God created human beings radically free. He wants us to mature. Maturity comes by facing challenge not by plugging into some instant relief. So life is a laboratory and we do not have to get it right every time but we do have to keep trying. As the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous puts it, "it's about progress not perfection". We will not get it right every time but how quickly can we recover and continue on the way. Such leads to maturity if we are willing to learn from our experience. Such learning can lead to wisdom.

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