07 November 2008

the post-karmic stream: of karma, grace, and the "era of interrupting love"

As the blog odometer recently rolled over 60,000, I thought it would be a good time to reflect a bit and reset.

Back when this blog was started, it was called “darkness into light” (explained here). It was an outlet for Stef and me to share Africa and the triumphs and tragedies of life. Slowly, organically, the blog began to change into more of my daily response to the life around us. It morphed from a narrative to a discussion, even if the discussion often took the form of internal dialogue. The blog was sometimes irreverent and often irrelevant, but somehow “the post-karmic stream” seemed to fit (and we’ll get to why later).

This has been a strange journey for me. To write is a life-giving pursuit for me. I find God in the margins of society and I tend to find myself in the margins of my writing. I often disagree with what I write, but I put it out there anyway. I like to see reactions, to test convictions, and to generally push for aggravation. Conflict creates clarity in my opinion and my wife, family, and friends (with the scars to prove it) can attest to my belief in that statement.

This space has been a source of inspiration for me, a place to throw things against a wall to see what sticks. I sometimes forget that others are reading along with me. I have run into bits of controversy, whether from my political leanings or my willingness to leave apparently decided-upon faith matters open to further interpretation. That generally comes from two sources: 1) my respect for those who don’t share my beliefs and 2) my admission that God cannot be tied down in a few neatly-worded statements.

I am, still, a follower of Jesus. It is that pursuit that shapes my every step and that pursuit that brings life and joy to me. It is also the mystery of the whole thing that inspires and awakens us to the newness that we encounter every day. “For who can know the mind of God…”

So, in that context, where did I get the name for the blog? What in the world is a “post-karmic-stream”? I’ll see if I can explain in typically verbose fashion.

In anticipating the arrival of my precious daughter, I have developed high hopes for the house she will grow up in. For instance, I have purposed it to be post-racial. I picked out a lovely African-American doll for her. I think she and Dora the Explorer will make great amigos. I want her to see no difference in Auntie Anna and Auntie Tiff. I want her to see herself in the pictures of children in Africa, Mexico, and Milwaukee. Well, maybe not Milwaukee.

You see, in purposing her existence to be post-racial, it isn’t as if we are refusing to acknowledge race. It exists. Fine. Now let’s rise above it together. Let’s move past it into a life where a greater identity exists.

With that idea in mind, let me share with you an excerpt from something I read. In it, Bono discusses his religious beliefs with interviewer Michka Assayas...

“I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace…You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action is met by an equal or opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea of Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so will you sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff…

…I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s**t. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.”

And there it is. At once guttural and poetic.

We are post-karmic. We acknowledge the karmic aspects of the life we live. Fine. Now let’s rise above it together. Let’s move past it into a life where a greater identity, a Grace Identity, exists.

Maybe in this post-karmic world, we can learn to love for love’s own sake, rather than for a mystical (mythical?) reward on the other side of life. We can look at humanity and brokenness with honesty, recognizing ourselves in every aspect of the dying world around us. And we can serve that world freely and beautifully, as a way to honor the One who freed us from the “eye for an eye” era and launched us into the era of “interrupting love”.

Now you know. Thanks for joining me on the journey...

1 comment:

  1. Wondered about the name "the post-karmic stream". Thanks for sharing your ideas, thoughts and time via your wonderful blog. I trust God will exceed your wildest imaginations. archie