Monday, February 4, 2013

Dang --next week, Lent begins... Sheeeeeeeesh.

Dang --next week, Lent begins.
Sheeeeeeesh....

And what is Lent, except a time to think about things... like sin.

Saturday I wrote:
Hey God, it's margaret. Just think'n. I am a slave to sin, truth be told. But you know that already.

--and our Beloved Brother D wrote me a note, asking me to rethink calling my self a slave to sin --and to rethink the idea of sin....

So.... I pondered and prayed, and responded:
Sin is the disruption (perhaps even perversion --and I'm not talking sex --more of a twisting) of relationships between humans and humans and God. Sin has nothing to do with morality --which is entirely a cultural code. Sin is disorienting our relationship to God by the insertion of something else --rules, codes, power, force, manipulation, etc.. --idols of every stripe.
And, there is a variety of sin:
Personal sin: (about which I could care less) However, recognizing those things that distort our relationship to God (recognizing sin) are essential if spiritual and godly growth is to occur. --that is the sacred process, the holy journey to become more and more who we are to the glory of God.

Systemic sin: --these are the systems of power and abuse of which you speak. These could also include cultural and social systems.

And, then, there is something Asian theologians call "Han" --the result of sin --a personal or systemic action and someone else suffers the havoc of sin while the perp remains largely clueless....

I use the term 'sin' freely as I write because it is a term so often rejected and deplored --and, indeed, a topic and condition which needs to be more clearly approached --I use the term in order to purposefully grate on the conscience --my own and that of others, mostly because I believe that wholesale rejection of sin is the order of the day --and I think we must begin to reject the old understandings of sin and begin again. But, that won't happen if we just say --well, there is no sin.

So, am I a sinner? You betcha. A sinner redeemed through no action of my own by an overwhelming love that holds and enfolds me.

Would I call someone else a sinner? A systemic action --yes. That is a matter of justice. An individual --no way. No. Way. Not my job. The revelation and realization of Grace is a matter which by the power of the Spirit moves the heart --one by one. And I am merely a helper to show those in recovery (from "sin") or those still lost --I am merely a helper to show the Way --to point to the road signs and encourage a step and then two.
And I certainly need a helper or two or three myself....

But, indeed, old concepts of sin are mostly based in power and control --and reinforcement of these. With the advent of feminist theology, new perspectives of sin have developed.

A quote: (Modern Christian Thought, McGrath pp224-225)
Feminist theologians argue that cultural, social and theological systems have often prevented women from developing strong self-images and that there are negative moral and religious implications in the limited, self-sacrificing and passive roles women have been conditioned to accept. They hold that if the religious and moral lives of human persons are capable of development in some direct proportion to the achieved degree of freedom and responsibility, then women must take hold of their lives as responsible selves. While self-sacrifice is central to the ideal of Christ love, there has to be a healthy and free self before genuine and responsible self-giving can occur.
Now, add to that Liberation theology and its reflection on oppression and poverty --add to that Womanist theology, Black theology --and whole new perspectives of the sin before us become seen in a new light. Not only must the oppressors be freed from their sin, but the oppressed must do the hard work of building relief from the garment --the shackles of the sin of the oppression....

Another quote: (Modern Christian Thought, McGrath pp224-225)
[Feminist theology] has shown how male theological perspectives have dominated in understandings of sin as pride and rebellion against God and have failed to attend to the sin of those who are powerless, who lack agency, selfhood and responsibility, and who have consequently suffered abuse and violence. While women can sin in the ways of masculine culture, especially in the new roles they have assumed in that culture, their own "feminie' formation suggests sins of passive failure to develop a sense of self, a sense of agency and responsibility. Sin is understood in a feminist perspective, as the breaking of relationship with God, with other persons, and with nature and life itself. This can take the form of weakness as well as pride, in its denial of responsibility in both the personal and political realms. Conversely, salvation would be reformulated as the healing of broken relationships and as mutuality and reciprocity in relation to God and others.

Personal sin. Systemic sin. Han.

So, am I a sinner? You betcha. A participant in all of the above to one degree or another. A sinner redeemed through no action of my own by an overwhelming love that holds and enfolds me.

At prayer this morning (beginning at Mark 7:24)
From there Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syro-phoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go – the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

This woman must have suffered all the havoc of the sins of others --an outsider by so many degrees --Gentile, Syro-pheonician and the ultimate sin --that of being a woman.... The lowest of the low. A dog.

And yet she claims worthiness. She overcomes her part in the system of oppression, degradation and racism. She refuses to play the sin game....

And,  for saying that, her daughter was healed. Her daughter was free. Free of that demon.

It is not for our own sake that we must face sin, it all its manifestations.
But for the sake of others.
Especially the children.

Amen.

6 comments:

kishnevi said...

I've always found it useful to think not of sin, but of ignorance and suffering in the Buddhist senses of those terms--what Kabbalah calles "restricted consciousness"*. If we experienced what we truly are, instead of experiencing things solely as the limited awareness bopping along on the flow of events, struggling to preserve itself, we wouldn't sin or fall into the power of sin.

*Did you know that the Hebrew name for Egypt--Mitzraim--is a form of the word for "restriction"--a meaning that resonates throughout the narrative of the Exodus.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Margaret!
And just to bring a smile to yer wizened old chops

Once, when in a passion of guilt and unbelief
I turned my thoughts to God on high and sought from Him relief:
"My heart is black, my sins are foul, of sinners I'm the chief".
But my guardian angel, stooping low, whispered from behind,
"Beware the sin of pride, my son,
you're nothing of the kind".

Regards, Charlie Farns-Barns.

it's margaret said...

Exactly Charlie --hence, Leave It Lay!!!!

susan s. said...

Thanks, Margaret!

And thanks, Charlie! Yes, the sin of pride in our sin!

Nij said...

There is more, still more about sin..
Many people claim that children can not sin. I worked with a priest once who (unannounced to me) left his post during confessions for grades 3-5 because he claimed kids could not sin. One of the things about acknowledging the existence of sin is that when someone hurts another deliberately, they really do know they have done wrong and many times live in denial, too embarrassed or sometimes too frightened to ask for forgiveness.
Many adults have the same problem and are "stuck" with the knowledge of unmentioned sin festering away.
I think that everyone should at least learn about the availability of Penance. It is a woeful thing that that sacrament was so abused by the church that it's value has been so diminished. I guess psychiatry has taken up some of the slack, but it isn't readily available to the person who doesn't have a shrink.
nij

it's margaret said...

--so very true, nij. So very true...

And then there's my favorite gospel saying from John --and we will discover we were wrong about sin, wrong about righteous --and there's another thing we will discover we are wrong about.

And, I find that so comforting. Strangely comforting.