Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cynicism is Not the Measure of Maturity

We swim in a sea of cynicism. Listen to Josh Garrels' insightful song entitled, "Cynicism":
Cynicism is the sickness of my culture
We undress each other with an evil eye
Concentric circles we look like vultures
When we feast on the failures of the lives we criticize
Don't stand alone and cast your stones at her
Unless you think you're innocent yourself
The same measure that we use to condemn men
Will be the same that's poured out upon our heads
We've all gone astray
We kick against the pricks so convinced we know the way
But who can repay
The love we sacrificed for an empire made of clay
Self-promotion's how we function in this culture
We fight for the spotlight with a peacock's pride
And then condescend to all the lesser men
From thrones we make of paid accolades and a compromise
There is no power that a man can have
Unless it's given to him from above
Our ladders of success descend to hell
Don't sell your soul and lose your one true love
We've all gone astray
We kick against the pricks so convinced we know the way
But who can repay
The love we sacrificed to be kings for a day
We not only swim in this sea, we also contribute handsomely to the rising water levels.

Marilynne Robinson, from The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought,
When a good man or woman stumbles, we say, ‘I knew it all along,’ and when a bad one has a gracious moment, we sneer at the hypocrisy. It is as if there is nothing to mourn or to admire, only a hidden narrative now and then apparent through the false, surface narrative. And the hidden narrative, because it is ugly and sinister, is therefore true.
We believe and project this narrative because we fear, we know, its true...within. We're uncomfortable in our own soul and hate it whenever the florescent lights of our failures shine on the sickliness of our skin.

This disposition is not maturity. Cynicism is not a virtue. It is not the sign of health. Here is virtue and maturity and health (1 Corinthians 13:4-13):
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. ...  
For we know in part ... but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
And this virtue flowers from the bloody soil at the foot of the cross. If anyone has the right to cynicism, it is God. Yet he is not petty and childish. He is magnanimously merciful and mature. He loved us all the way to the cross, to swallow up our dark narrative, and rewrite our story with light and hope. This new narrative of grace, when it becomes our truth, awakens love and hope and joy. And we leave childish ways behind and start to love.

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