Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Personal Theology

(Warning. Rambling religious/spiritual/God post ahead. Those of you who are not of that ken may want to avert your eyes. Those of you who are might not like what I have to say here. Sorry.)

So, I serve on a philanthropic organization's national council with 13 other women. The council serves over 3000 women in 127 Chapters throughout the Midwest. These 3000 women serve countless others in their communities in the areas of speech and hearing, art, music and literacy (plus tons of other local projects) and together we raise about a million dollars every year. It's very cool.

It's not a Christian organization, per se (but I would bet that 99% of our membership tag themselves that way). We pray before meals, we do good things for others, we say, "with God's help may we advance in these fields of endeavor" in our opening verse before each business meeting.

These are trying times for groups like ours -- membership is down, profits are down. But optimism is high, especially at and after convention. Monday, at our post-convention council meeting, one of our members said that she was "convinced" that God had brought all 14 of these strong women together to tackle the challenges ahead of us.

Me, I'm not so convinced. I think it is swell that 14 women can work together so well and lead an organization successfully. I think it is terrific that despite our differences (ie, some of us are quite ladylike, classy and proper; others of us enjoy a racy joke, a nice cocktail and occasional use of the f-word) we can have so much fun together and care so much for each other.

And while I would love to think that God looked down upon my little organization and said, "Yes, I ordain that she and she and she will sit on the National Council in 2010-11; that will be a splendid mix," I would then also have to believe that He said, "Yes, I will give that woman cancer. She will die a slow and painful death and her children will be driven to their knees in despair."

"I will give that man Alzheimer's. His intelligence and strength will gradually leave him, and those who look to him for wisdom will be left lost and bewildered."

"I want that awesome child with me, so I will cause an accident in which he will die, causing his family long-lasting sorrow."

I just don't think it works like that. I can't believe it works like that.

What I do believe is what we say in the Creed each week at Mass. God made the earth, made us, sent us Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the church and words to live by. Along with those gifts, He gave us really magnificent brains so that we can use this earth and all that it contains for our survival and benefit, and that of others.

After that, I'm thinking we're pretty much on our own.

Oh, He cares about us, I know that. Otherwise, He wouldn't have given us flowers and babies and music and water and memories and friends. And I am so thankful for that.

I don't believe He's going to single me out for a lottery win, or my kid for a high SAT score or my team for the big win (no matter what you hear on TV after a game); I chalk those up to luck, hard work and determination. God didn't make the Saints win the Super Bowl -- he's much smarter than that. To choose sides would mean that He would always be failing someone -- in a war, an election or a ballgame.

Likewise, to inflict pain and suffering just so we could "learn a lesson" or "grow in faith" would just nothing short of cruel. I don't believe God is cruel to us because He doesn't need to be -- we are certainly cruel enough to each other. But that's a post for another day.

Theologically, this might not be very Catholic. Maybe not even very Christian. But is it what helps me survive, stay upright and keep loving life.

Good stuff happens. Kids graduate from college, spewing oil wells are capped, women work together.

And bad shit happens. Kids become drug dealers, wells keep spewing and organizations fail.

Our job is to be thankful for the good stuff, learn from the bad shit and move on.


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