Monday, September 5, 2011

Centrifugal Flight into the Void

Trail Ridge Road has been called Highway to the Sky, and when I took this photo, I wasn't thinking at all about Thomas Merton. Then again, God usually gets my attention via misdirection, from something in my peripheral vision.
My mind has been burdened by the debate in our community about a proposed law to punish local businesses for hiring undocumented workers. I've been surprised how some have seen this issue as black and white, open and shut, about 'illegal aliens' robbing jobs from local law abiding citizens, about upholding the law and somehow not about racial profiling or systemic racism. I guess my surprise is in expecting more from people who regard themselves as Christian who don't see something more within this debate. Something Richard Rohr wrote puts this in perspective:
It seems that until you are excluded from any system, you are not able to recognize the idolatries, lies or shadow side of that system. There seems to be a 'structural blindness' for people who are content and satisfied on the inside of groups. It is important to know that people can be personally well-intentioned and sincere, but structurally they cannot see certain things.' (from Things Hidden - Scripture as Spirituality, 2008)
Then last night I was flipping through some writings by Thomas Merton and, without really looking for insight about this issue, or really trying to sort out what I think or feel about the debate, about reducing people to their 'legal' or 'illegal' status, I read this:
Into this world, this demented inn in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because He cannot be at home in it, because He is out of place in it, and yet He must be in it, His place is with those others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst. For them, there is no escape even in imagination. They cannot identify with the power structure of a crowded humanity which seeks to project itself outward, anywhere, in a centrifugal flight into the void, to get 'out there' where there is no God, no man, no name, no identity, no weight, no self, nothing but the bright self-directed, perfectly obedient and infinitely expensive machine. (from Raids on the Unspeakable, 1966)
It seems that Christ and his followers are always messing with the machine.

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