Pentecost +22 - Year B
Affirmations are a good way to approach life. It is far better to say what you trust to be the case than to mutter about what you don’t believe. For one thing it’s simpler, fewer moving parts. To say everything that isn’t takes far more energy than to claim the little that can be be put forward.
An exception to the general rule of affirmation is affirmation based on moveable ground. This results in a sense that if you just say it forcefully enough, it is bound to be true even if it contradicts what was said just a moment ago. So it is that we are saved from every trouble. And now every trouble plus this one. Oh, and this one. No matter what the trouble, don’t complain, be radiant. G*D gets us out of every mess someone else gets us into.
This is a Psalm that could have been written by Mitt Romney. No one who runs to him to invest will lose out. Everyone who follows will prosper. What do you need to hear, that is stated. What does G*D need to hear, it is already said.
The Psalms are political/theological writing. They put forward a point of view of a plan, control, and claimed success. Unfortunately these posit more than can be known. Don’t lie through your teeth (verse 13) is a much harder standard than no profanity (same verse). Clean language does not indicate a clean heart.
Go ahead and claim G*D is in the midst of every trouble, just don’t err on the side of saying G*D is some transcendent get-out-of-jail-free card you carry up your sleeve to pull out in extremis. Make your affirmation, live it, and take the consequences that come with a still growing creation.
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Note: Relatedly, this excerpt from Jim Taylor --– “If there’s a belief system operating here, it’s that I -- whoever I am -- exist separately from the world around me. The laws that apply to everyone else -- human laws or natural laws -- don’t apply to me. I transcend them.
“It’s such a universal belief that I wonder if it influences our religious faith. Almost every religion imagines its god or gods as transcendent. They live on Mount Olympus or in heaven. They don’t grow old or catch colds. They live beyond our petty limitations.
“After all, why would I want a God who is less than I am? If I can think of myself as above the realities of my world, wouldn’t any god be more so?”