The Great Divide—Who Are We?

So I was reading an article in The Writer, a new-to-me writing mag, on conflict. The author contends it is conflict that makes us all want to keep reading. If I remember correctly, Donald Maass says it is tension. Be that as it may, that’s not my concern in this post. Instead, I’m concerned with this writer’s conclusion:

What is it about conflict that draws our attention? Is it because, just under the surface of our postmodern veneer, we are still animals, drawn to the smell of blood? Or is it that we find strength in knowing we are not alone in our daily fight to keep going, and that the urge to survive is the one thing all people can be assured they have in common? Regardless of your answer …

Well, I’m concerned with the questions. Could this novelist and screenwriter come up with no better ideas for our interest in conflict other than that we are animals or that we want someone to be in the same boat with us as we fight the impossible fight to survive?

My first thought was how incredibly sad it is that this writer has such a worldview. My second thought was, he is not alone. Half our country, I suspect, shares that perspective. And when you look at the world at large, my guess is the number of people seeing themselves and others as nothing more than soulless beings—intellect trapped in decaying bodies—would be staggering.

This, then, is the great divide. I’ve thought before that the issue of sin was the core difference between those who believe in God and those who don’t. The humanist sees Man as good and the Christian sees him as sinful. But in this postmodern culture, with humanism (enlightenment, reason) fading nearly as fast as Christianity, the new dividing line just may be at this point of definition: what is Man?

It’s not a bad question. After all, the Psalmist asked it, too. What is man that You are mindful of him? But the idea that Man is nothing but matter, that one day he will stop being, that his body will decay and he will be no more is so foreign to me, it’s like I’m staring at an alien. For some reason, it’s never hit me just how many people must hold this worldview.

If you’re familiar with Psalm 8, you know that David was asking this question of God, not because he didn’t know but because he was amazed. Here’s the short psalm in the New American Standard Version:

1 O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! 2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; 4 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? 5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! 6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

(emphasis mine)

That view of Man is such a far cry from the animal/in-it-for-survival view, if I didn’t know better, I would think these two writers were discussing two entirely different entities.

No wonder abortion proponents can recognize that a fetus is alive and proceed to advocate as they do. Did you know that here in California, we passed a proposition to mandate improved conditions for chickens, pigs, and … some other livestock and at the same time defeated a proposition that would require parental notification of a minor having an abortion?

The great divide. If we’re just animals, then the chickens count just as much as the humans. And the unborn babies are as disposable as we want them to be.

So today, I had my eyes opened to this great divide.

Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 6:05 pm  Comments (9)  
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