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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9 Comments

  1. It began to sink in for me during our last election and came to the stark and ugly forefront in this one. We are polarized. Opposites to the enth degreen. Lost and found. Sometimes as Christians we learn to love others, but we’re still surprised when they stomp on us or when they fail to see what has become so essential and obvious to us. Life is in God. Nowhere else can it be found. Life belongs to God–we have no right to dispose of it in callous ways. My state just voted in assisted suicide! My God. We exterminate unborn children in barbaric procedures, and we can kill the sick and elderly if we/they want to. God help us all.

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  2. Hi, Rebecca

    This is such a sad world-view that you so perceptively picked up in this writing instruction. Seriously, if I believed this, logically expostulated to the ultimate conclusion, that is, that life is utterly meaningless; suffering is likewise meaningless; joy equally meaningless; there is no good, no bad; no one thing is better than anything else . . . I would go out and shoot myself. Even the joy in life is meaningless, so why bother? Would my death by my own hand hurt my family? Yes, of course. Would it matter? Ummm, no.

    And what difference does it make whether chickens or calves or pigs or babies or family members suffer? When they die, they will no longer exist forever. The suffering is forgotten–as though it never was. All suffering is therefore meaningless.

    How much better is the real world, a world full of meaning, loved and created and redeemed by the one true God, the God of love? How great is our Lord? How wonderful His ways, that redeem suffering, frees us from sin, and bring us to a relationship of unending love and fellowship with one another and with Him?

    My heart aches to know that my countrymen have voted to allow the murder of countless little children while legally protecting animals. (We ought to have protected the animals from abuse, certainly, but not left the babies unprotected.) Nevertheless, God knew who was going to win the election. He’s working all these circumstances together to complete His purpose in this world. And I suspect He is nearing the completion of His redemption of His creation. Even so, Come Lord Jesus!

    God bless,

    Cindy

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  3. wow, Becky! You should rename this blog, A Christian Worldview of Fiction and Politics and All of Life.

    Very good posts over the last several days. I’m just now catching up on my reading and loving this time of communion with God and his people. I will join you in praying for our president elect. It is the least we can do for this man, made in God’s image and loved by God. Sometimes we forget, I think, that the abortionist, as well as the aborted, is made in God’s image and is therefore worthy of respect and love. God loves his enemies and we are to love our enemies. LOVE. Not tolerate. Not refrain from shooting. Not badmouth. LOVE. We are called to love Obama.

    And as you point out in today’s post, only Christians can really understand this. God considers man–small as he is–and because of that, man has value. Because made us who we are, we have value. (And to God, the wisest of us if is not as advanced as a zygote.)

    thanks for the thought provoking posts!

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  4. yikes! I just read my comment above and I just have to quit visiting so many blogs and trying to make these really fast comments. Either that or I’m showing early signs of demetia. I left out some words up there. and then I added some in. Ugh.

    I think I meant that though we are to God less than a zygote is to us, and still we have value because God made us, considers us, and loves us.

    something like that.

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  5. How much better is the real world, a world full of meaning, loved and created and redeemed by the one true God, the God of love? How great is our Lord?

    Cindy, what a great comment. I’m saddened too. Every time I hear of a non-believer facing suffering or death, I feel so sad, not just because of the hard thing itself but because they have no one to walk through the fire with them, no one to comfort them, no one to assure them that this is but the refiner’s fire and they will come out as gold. It’s so very, very sad.

    Becky

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  6. Nicole, the polarizing issue was no surprise to me. That’s been in evidence since my teen years. I used to watch riots on college campuses, the same year I and my classmates saved the books from our library that experienced an electrical fire. The contrast was too dramatic to miss.

    The difference is, I’m seeing this shift in what’s behind the divide. And it doesn’t make the gulf any smaller.

    Becky

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  7. Sally, you are too funny. Yes, you were in a hurry, but I think anyone reading your comment would get your point.

    Thanks, by the way, for your kind words about this blog. Of course, you’re the one who got me into blogging, so who should be thanking who? 😉

    Great comments about why we should prayer for Mr. Obama.

    Becky

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  8. heh heh and even in my fix-it post I added a word. yikes!!!!

    I’m very glad I got you into blogging. It was one of the most productive, useful things I’ve ever done. =)

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  9. Productive and useful are probably close enough to constitute redundancy.

    I’m not reading over my comments any more.

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