13 August 2009

The Last Word on America

I don't think the world - even in this Age - is by any means finished with America. Or vice versa.

And yet, big as America is, and as unimaginably bigger as it plans to get, there are always going to be things in this world we cannot encompass. And not just militarily or economically, but culturally. And even - if you can imagine it - spiritually. Right up until the very Last Day, this earth will be full of things that exceed even the vastness and variety of our American civilization. Things wiser than our most extraordinary intelligence, wilder than our most unbridled inventiveness, wickeder than our most cynically hardboiled opportunism, uglier than our blandest stripmalls, holier than our 100+ flavors of Bible-believing, Bible-ignoring Christianity. Most important of all, I believe, this earth contains strange things - things more exquisitely remembering, more longingly hopeful, more quietly and restfully and confidently expectant, than all our most exhilarating optimisms. But expectant of what? And of Whom?

That is the great question of our times, isn't it? And even if we're sure we're living the right answer, there remains the rest of creation - both human and beyond - to think about. As long as day follows night, the loneliness, the longing of their souls will cry to be filled, and that is a howling even we Americans can't feed or put to sleep. But even if we aren't God's Chosen Civilization, we can still do our part, in preparing the earth for the coming of this last Word of all.

But we'll need to get going. Because the sooner America realizes it is not the last word on much of anything, the sooner it can begin to broaden its at present rather specialized vocabulary. Just think of the words we'll discover and explore! Words that speak - and not just of science and abstract categorization, or of neat political labels and compartments, or of economic and organizational utilities and agendas, but of Life. And not just any kind of life so-called. I am thinking of words kind, and observant, and attentive enough - maybe even delighting enough - to speak of the livingness, the individuality, of this particular creature. Or that one. Anything from a centipede to a systems analyst. From a peacock to a professor of astrophysics. From a starving child in Eritrea to a geostrategist at Rand Corporation. What difference does it make what kinds of creatures? Haven't we got words enough for all of them? Aren't they all in their various ways - blind and seeing, wise and foolish, open and grudging - aren't they all, in one or another buried corner of their souls, awaiting the manifestation of the sons of God?

Mind you, I'm not talking about who these often vain creatures think they are, or what they pretend they want. I mean what they are in their inmost and utmost selves, in the deep wonder and secrecy of what they have been made. And please remember - even with material as stubbornly unpromising as you and I - there is nothing God made that He cannot re-make.

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