on being human.

28 Jan

If I may…

Okay, so here’s what happened last week:

Say, you’re really into kayaking.  But you just haven’t done it for a while.  You’ve been preoccupied with other things, but in your fervent desire to get back in the water, you begin planning a massive kayaking excursion to jump-start your re-commitment to kayak on a regular basis.

(Stay with me here.)

But somewhere along the trip-planning process, you became distracted again.  Other pressing matters forced you to postpone your big trip indefinitely.

Once the preoccupations passed, you were so overcome with frustration and a sense of urgency to get back into the water, that you drove to the nearest river immediately.

And jumped in… without a life-jacket, paddles, or…. even a kayak.

(Are you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down?  I’m talking about myself and blogging here, people.  I jumped into the water too fast.  With last week’s post I didn’t give any content or context, but I expected people to respond anyway.  I ….. oh, never mind.  )

At any rate, there was actually a reason as to why I asked the question I did last week of what you think makes us human, what separates us from animals.

Because this blog is about the journey, the “song,” of faith… and faith, I think, is in many ways the discovery of what it means to be truly human.


Last week, while I didn’t pay a ton of attention to the news, there were two things I saw a ton of…. tweets and messages of Martin Luther King quotes, and references/opinions on the tragedy in Arizona.

Conversation about hate and violence have been on our minds more so than normal… although even by this week, many of us may already be again slipping into complacency about conversations about hate and violence.

But I have heard/read people (including President Obama) making the connection between rhetoric and violence, a connection that King understood all too well.  His mission, and his birthday, brought timely reminders to all of us about the cycles of violence, and how they are fed by fear and exclusion…. and how they can be redeemed with defiant, bold, and blinding love.   The sheer number of King quotes that were passed around Facebook and Twitter, I think, came out of a need for us to remember this “good news,” and that for all the shouts for violence, shouts for peace could and do still ring out as well.

Animals fight back.  They see the world in terms of survival and in the perception of threat.  Either they fight, or flee.

Humans are animals, and left to our own devices, we do this, too.  (And sometimes our “fighting” and “fleeing” is expressed through our words, especially in this world of New Media that gives everyone a voice.)

Yet the way of Jesus was different.  His way was the Sermon on the Mount.  His way was to love our enemies… and people in our age like King, Maximilian Kolbe, Oscar Romero, Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, as well as countless others in the 20 centuries following the ultimate act of self-giving love, have provided the church with a living testimony to that way.

That way is unnatural…. but it is the most truly human way to live… in the way that God intended.


Posted by on January 28, 2011 in love, people


Tags: , , , ,

2 responses to “on being human.

  1. John

    February 3, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Of course violence on a mega-scale is as Christian as apple pie. Such was inevitable the moment that the early church was coopted by the Roman state and thus became an integral player in the Western drive to gain total power and control over every one and every thing.
    Three references re this systematic inevitable violence.

    Note the unspeakably vile sado-masochistic splatter/snuff film which is reviewed in the third reference.

    Has it ever occurred to you that the principal (but not the only) cause for the misery in Africa was the brutal onslaught of Western colonialism and imperialism.
    Have you ever read how the European powers carved up Africa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries?
    Power grew out of the barrel of Maxim guns!

  2. jlundewhitler

    February 4, 2011 at 9:18 am


    Entirely agree with you about Africa. Yes, I have studied (and seen with my own eyes) what European colonialism did to the continent.

    Actually, what you bring up about the church being c0-opted by the Roman state paves the way for the possibility that Christianity was originally an alternative community of non-violent resistance and love, prior to the early 4th century. After all, Jesus spoke quite a bit about loving your enemies; there is the the oft-misquoted/misunderstood “turning the other cheek” quote, and of course, the cross is actually a symbol of weakness and non-violent love, as Jesus gave himself up to the Roman powers that be.

    It seems to me that the need is not to condemn Christianity in and of itself, but to condemn the ways in which it has sold its soul to empire in the past and present…and to show how Jesus himself condemns this… for His way is peace.


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