Building up Good

[1] Having been literally engulfed in the dusk cloud created by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, I can attest to overwhelming sense of being encompassed by pure evil. Stephen Jay Gould wrote in the New York Times on September 26th, “The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. Complex systems can only be built step by step, whereas destruction requires but an instant.” *

[2] Since it must now be clear to us that we have limited ability to control this evil, we must maximize our efforts to build these complex systems through what Gould calls the “10,000 acts of kindness” that are needed to balance “every spectacular incidence of evil.” At least in the short term, this building is certainly going on in New York City. When Presiding Bishop Anderson and Synodical President Kieschnick appear in the same place along with a whole chorus of synodical bishops and district presidents and make common cause, the building has certainly begun. But will it continue? Now that they have returned to Chicago and St. Louis, will we allow them to return to business as usual between the ELCA and LCMS? In a much broader context, will our new-found love and affirmation of our Muslim brothers and sisters who step forward to disavow terrorism influence how we interpret “No one comes to the Father except through me,” or will they still only be our true equals when they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior? Are we going to continue to hold to our particularism or are we going to learn that absolutely anything that divides us as children of God gives opportunity for evil to prevail?

* The article was an op-ed piece entitled “A Times of Gifts”