I think I was a little premature in my claim to be back in action. I loved presiding at Mass–it’s where I belong–after a few weeks break but it took a disproportionate toll and I’m still, the morning after, shaking and aching.
February 19th, 2007
Readings: 1 Sam 26:2-23; 1 Cor 15:45-49; Luke 6:27-38
Today’s readings are a charter for stupidity and a counsel for failure.
Economics is founded on the belief that value grows by self-interest. Politics is built on the conviction that power must be contained by power and violence met with violence. And the biological science has shown that you just can’t beat tit-for-tat as an evolutionary strategy and way of life. Any population of Jesus-type, turn-the-other-cheek do-gooders will always be overrun by those who get their own back.
The gospel recognises that—even sinners love those who love them. On the other hand the gospel says that God doesn’t play tit-for-tat—God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
But isn’t that puzzling? How can it be that the world should play with different rules to the one who made it? Aren’t the rules God’s? It isn’t all down to the Fall—the biology of tit-for-tat doesn’t depend on sinful structures but on the simple clarity of mathematics and the logic of natural selection.
What the numbers say is that tit-for-tat can’t be beaten. It’s always a good bet and evolution favours it. But the numbers also say that real altruists don’t die out—they just remain a minority and a minority always vulnerable, always blessing those who curse them, always turning the other cheek, always lending without hope of return.
And this is exactly where God chooses to be—beaten, cheated, cursed. And it is where we are challenged to choose to be also.
But why should we? The gospel offers two answers. The first is this: so that we might be like God. That we might be with the God who has no truck with war, with violence, or punishment, or tit-for-tat.
The second answer proves just how hard the first answer is to believe–because Luke cops out and introduces tit-for-tat all over again. ‘Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Give and there will be gifts for you. The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.’
But even there I think there’s something subversive in God’s economy—it’s not quite tit-for-tat when God’s response is such over-the-top goodness. No judgment. No condemnation. But pardon and plenty: gifts by the lap-load, full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.
Because even if we are beaten, cheated, and cursed we have the compensation of good company.
February 18th, 2007
All being well I’ll have a homily to post shortly though I must admit I’m not that happy with it. This will be my first time presiding at Mass in a few weeks of not feeling up to it. I must admit I’m not entirely sure it’s a good idea today either! My brain is still a bit befogged and I’m fretting about whether I’ll remember my words. So time to trust someone else and let him carry the celebration.
February 18th, 2007
Here’s hoping that the worst problems with my web hosting are fixed. I cured the memory errors easily once I knew what was going on — the poorer performance is out of my hands but my host is aware of the issue and promises an improvement.
I haven’t posted very much recently — more CFS problems — but there has been a lot of activity in the comments as I’ve been responding to issues around the various plugins I’ve written for WordPress.
Right now I’m enjoying the sight out of my window of our beautiful grounds transformed by a fall of snow. Snow is rare enough in these parts to make everyone giddy and bring traffic to a standstill. I’m talking maybe an inch! Still all the time I was in California I didn’t see so much as a frost unless I headed for the hills.
February 8th, 2007
I apologise for the mess the site is in at the moment. My hosting provider has just moved my account to a new server which seems both slower and prone to give me ‘out of memory’ errors if I activate more than a handful of plugins.
I hope I hear back from them very soon and normality might be restored.
February 6th, 2007