Saturday, January 29, 2011

Love, Laughter, Sadness & Tears

 "Those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart, don't know how to laugh either."
~Golda Meir
A few days ago, a new (or at least, resurrected) Facebook meme appeared on "walls" across the country; find a random Flickr picture, a random Wikipedia article, and a random QuotationsPage quote and use these to create your very own CD cover. The third picture on the Flickr page is your cover picture, the Wikipedia article title your band, and the last few words of the last quote are your album name. I had fun, and made a couple (yeah, I cheated. But only a little. It was more fun that way!)

There are some pretty fun pictures out there, and the entire exercise was somewhat addicting. But what has this to do with the post title - or with Science, or Religion?

The quote at the top of the page was right above the Terry Pratchet quote on the second cover. It got me thinking.

In the last half a year, I've heard, in large part thanks to Facebook and our constant contact with one another's lives, of so many sad stories that friends and family have experienced. Miscarriages and the loss of young babies have topped the list, but there have been other deaths, sicknesses, the ends of marriages, and other difficult relational problems. At the same time, I've heard about so many healthy new babies, recovery from illness or injury, engagements, marriages.
 "Those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart, don't know how to laugh either."
We can't have one without the other. We can't really love, or be loved, without knowing of the risk for loss. What would a relationship be if there was never a risk of death of a loved one, or betrayal? How much would their "love" mean to us if they had no choice but to love? Or no choice but to serve, or to stay faithful - if we each had no choice but to do the right thing, to put someone else first, to be a trustworthy friend or spouse? If life and health were guaranteed, what would they mean to us? I think, precious little.

Hand in hand with this goes the "problem of sin". Several years ago I took an online Philosophy of Religion class at a NY public college. I remember several occasions when the idea of sin as a problem for the existence of a "good" god came up. The argument was always "how can God be good and perfect if he is also all-knowing, yet allows sin to happen?" It was once compared with a baby sitter who left a child alone in a room with something dangerous. Wasn't it babysitter who was at fault when the child got hurt? Aside from this being an imperfect analogy, the conclusion would be faulty even if we made a better one.

What would our obedience mean to God if he proved his existence? The "babelfish" argument comes to mind.
What would our "love" for him mean if we had no choice? What good is "obedience" if we can't disobey? "Service" is mere slavery if it is not voluntary. "Sacrifice" can't exist without a desire to give something up.

The potential for us to sin, to turn against God, is necessary. Without it, we're robots. Machinery programed to do what someone else wants us to do. Beyond that, this same element of choice is necessary for human life and relationships to have any meaning at all.

If you can't weep, you can't laugh. If hate and heartbreak don't exist, neither does love.

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