a broken world and a great big God

Posted: January 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

I had a quiet afternoon today and was crampy, sleepy, and generally not inclined toward productivity.  So I whipped out my Amazon Prime free streaming video and reclined under blankets, watching a documentary called “Inheritance,” about the daughter of Nazi war criminal Amon Goeth and her journey to reconcile herself to the awful truth of who her father was.  In the film, she met a lady who was a child slave in Goeth’s household, and together they toured the home Goeth and his wife (her mother) lived in, Plaszow concentration camp.  The pain in both women was wrenching.  Amidst the weaving of the story was live footage of the hanging death of Goeth, which was a strangely unemotional experience, even knowing it was a *real event* and not a filmmaker’s trick, though I had wept several times watching the women struggle to process the pain.   

Yesterday, while cleaning my room, I listened to an NPR “This American Life” podcast called “Doppelgangers,” a portion of which laid side-by-side the stories of an Afghanistan vet and a guy who lived in a really bad neighborhood in Philadelphia.  Story by story, phrase by phrase, trauma by trauma, response by response, the two stories were largely the same.  I reeled, processing this – that being raised in a tough neighborhood here in the USA could be so evenly matched to the horrors of war.  The major way the stories were different?  The soldier came home and got to move on – scarred, yes, but still…beyond it.  The dude in the bad neighborhoods didn’t really get the “move on” option.  Near the end of the podcast, I was carried away in tears for the brokenness of this world. 

I don’t have to go to the media to hear stories of the brutality with which life attacks some people.  I have sat for long hours with a lot of people I love, focusing on not flinching while they shared their experiences – things I don’t believe I would have survived.  I have sat listening and wondering, “How is this person alive?  There is no logical reason for them to have survived so much.” 

A lot of people want nothing to do with hearing these stories, whether via media or in person.  Why fill your mind with such awfulness, they might wonder.  Why not just focus on something more positive?

In truth, there was a time, many years ago, when doing so was at least in part  mere morbid curiosity for me.  A fascinated repulsion, or a repulsive fascination.  A sick want to know, to see. 

Later, it was more a guilt offering.  If they had to survive it, the least I could do was stand witness.  That was why, during my first viewing of “The Passion of the Christ,” I did not get up and leave the room (as the lady in front of me did) to hide around the corner during Jesus’ brutal 40 lashes – I didn’t even avert my eyes.  If He willingly went through that for me, the least I could do, I felt, was witness – know – let the impact of it touch me.

My dad was quick to point out to us as kids that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.  He told me, many years ago, that someday people would say there never was a holocaust.  That’s why we needed to know – so that it couldn’t be denied, and more easily repeated.  What he said seemed unlikely to me, as an early teen.  In my early 20’s, I started hearing the denials.  Wow. 

So that really is an important part of why I watch.  I am 47 and i continue to learn about atrocities committed by one group against another, across history, that have never been much publicized in the education system as I experienced it, nor in popular media.  I no longer have that sick desire to know, to see.  It does not please me or thrill me in any way at all.  It feels like a responsibility.

These days I notice that my perspective is different.  The first place my mind went this weekend, while considering the stories I heard and saw, is God’s.  I wonder how it is for Him, to have created us and given us free will, to be watching what we do with it. To be watching the ruining of people and the way it cascades – ruined people ruining other people.  I wonder, and I ponder, and I am so glad I am not God.  So glad that I cannot see all, I do not know all, I am not in all places at all times.  To me, it is a sign of how powerful He is,that He can behold all the ugly and not be destroyed by it.  I am wrecked by the small bits and pieces I glimpse, amidst my otherwise very safe and highly protected, luxurious life.  He can see inside all the homes.  Every inch of ground where very battle is fought.  The inside of the minds of terrorist bombers and child molesters, knowing all that has formed them and brought them to this point.  He can hear the noise of the vile thoughts that run through the most well-behaved and sweet-natured person you or I have ever met. 

If I could see all that and hear all that and know all that…well, first of all, I wouldn’t survive it.  Secondly, I don’t think I could summon the courage or the love to make a sacrifice big enough to make saving us all possible.  Heck, two rough episodes in two days leaves me brokenhearted over the condition of mankind. 

He’s God and I’m not.  Tonight, I rest in that comfort as I pray over the brokenness. 

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Comments
  1. Laurie says:

    today while in Crystal Lake with grands and their parents, this very thing -ruined people, ruining more people – Wow – so thinking the Holy Spirit has your voice on the pulse of this issue – new and additional thoughts to this state of society. So glad I am not God and as we all agreed – people – we all are in need of His Grace – getting that undeserved forgiveness and His mercy – not getting exactly what we deserve. You are the present day Jeremiah in my world. Thanks K!

  2. Laurie says:

    I left out an entire thought – we discussed this process – ruined people leaving destruction on people……..

    all due to my WOW – amazement of the conversation discussed and then here it is in your blog!

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