Tuesday, April 7, 2009

25F

Ten minutes before the plane departed to California, we learned that our flight was overbooked and we were the last three to get tickets; translation - we were not going to make the flight.

After some scrambling and negotiating, we ended up with $900.00 in vouchers and a $200.00 discount on our rental car; not bad for a slight delay; we were $1100.00 up for the day. How could things get any better?

We finally boarded our new flight and my seat was 25F. A glance down the aisle told me I was n the window seat, and two ladies were already seated in seats 25E and 25D, 25D about 25 years old, and 25E about my age. I hated to trouble them, "Pardon me, ladies, I'm 25F. They stood up, I passed by them and sat down, and they returned to their seats.

Cover up and vividly colorful on the lady's lap next to me was a paperback novel by P. D. James. "My wife loved P. D. James," I said automatically. "Who else does she enjoy?" the lady asked.

The question hovered in my ethereal consciousness only for a moment before I replied, "She died February 11th." Immediately the lady responded, "I am widowed also. My husband died two years ago. I couldn't help but notice your Greek book. He was Greek, and English was his second language.

Amazing Providence - two books precisely relevant to two deceased spouses, two widowed people, two seats, 25E and 25F.

Providence had smiled on the delayed flight, and on the seat 25F. I hoped, and thoroughly believed, Providence was smiling on 25E as well.

The lady in 25E was a full professor of family medicine at the University of Connecticut, a northeastern intellectual culturally familiar with Jesus Christ. I told her about Matt, one more providential connection.

We had much to talk about for the next four hours. The connections were stupendous. The conversation danced around our mutual experiences of a spouse dying of cancer, her husband's being lung cancer and sudden death by a massive stroke that occurred with his first chemotherapy treatment; of course mine focused on Judy's long battle. 25E and I both loved and missed our spouses.

The conversation was heady; two academics exploring death and afterlife. Eventually, the conversation boiled down to the transcendent power of language as a medium to the absolute. 25E was definitely left brain, I right. "What does that mean?" 25E inquired. "It means that words can connect us to absolutes, for instance the word 'love'," I said. "Either an absolute thing called love does exist or it does not, and the word 'love' is our intellectual vehicle to that absolute."

"But don't you think that love is different for all people depending on who they are and their differing circumstances and relationships?" She asked.

"Let me put it another way," I said. "Consider the word 'evil.' Is there such a thing or not?"

"Well, I suppose," said 25E, "that evil is relative to every person's opinion."

"Not at all," I said. "If evil is relative, evil is nothing, only an opinion defined by psychology, sociology, or cultural circumstances and mores. This is where we corner the atheist. To be consistent, s/he must admit the relativity of evil and, once s/he admits that relativity, then the atheist must admit that evil is no more than personal or cultural opinion and therefore not an absolute reality; Evil then becomes nothing, and everything goes. But if the atheist admits the absoluteness of evil, then s/he must admit the absoluteness of good, and thus, of God. I have never met an atheist who would deny the absoluteness of evil, though I suppose Hitler did; so I consider most atheists intellectually inconsistent thinkers."

25E seemed stunned.

"I never thought about it that way," 25E replied. "You've given me something to think about."

I could have cheapened the moment by the cliche, "Would you bow your head and receive Jesus Christ into your heart," but she knew who I was, knew what I believed, and so I just left her to God.

Providence had smiled on 25E and 25F.

25F was amazed.

1 comment:

Hippie Fringe said...

Is God good? If God is good, one must consider an absolute morality by which God is judged. If God is good, one must consider that God could also be evil.

Is God mindful of morality or free from it? Is the mind of God held to a standard or rather is it free of good or evil. Can God be other than good if God is the very definition of it?

If there is simply God and everything else that is not God; if good is God, then good and evil are only as absolute as what is God and what is not. Morality is a foreign concept to God. Good is only good because it is God and evil is only evil because it is not God.

While we may rightly argue that there are absolutes, our morality is still fallible in that it is subject to our perception of God. Good is then that we see in God and evil is that we see absent in God. If this truly becomes ones morality, they would do well to refrain from judgment and call good good and evil evil, as they are revealed by God. Instead we (humanity) attempt to judge God and man by logic, tradition and fable. Every man does what is right in his own eyes.

I have never met anyone that believes murder is only wrong if and when it is contrary to God, and evil only in its’ contrariness to God. Even the most devout theist holds to a “practical” morality in the absence of direct revelation. It is this sense to “do your best” that makes me sympathetic to others that may hold to one logical conclusion and yet attempt to live morally by another.