“You are like Moses.” He smiled as he said it. I nervously laughed. No one had said that to me before. “What do you mean?” I said. He said, “You are a man of privilege, with years of education, training, influence and resources.” Then this wise African American leader asked the question. “What are you going to do with your privilege?” I took another bite of my cheeseburger.
I went back and checked. Moses was forty years old when he took his first stand on behalf of the oppressed. He assumed that the powerless would readily welcome his advocacy on their behalf. But Moses made a murderous mess of his first public attempt at social action. He used power like the worst of his majority culture had taught him and then tried to talk of reconciling. He had asked no questions and yet had the answers. Moses needed another forty years of learning before he’d become by God’s grace, the liberator history recounts for us. (Acts 7:22ff)
Know the Heart of the Sojourner
A sojourner describes a person racially and ethnically different than the majority. When the Biblical God later commanded his people through Moses not to oppress the sojourner, the reason was experiential. “You shall not oppress a sojourner,” because, “you know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (Ex. 23:9; 22:21) Moses had privilege, the power to act, and the courage to risk it. But he did not yet know the heart of the people he tried to help.
As more of us with privilege find the courage to act, we are asking, “what can we do?” To begin, we need to learn the heart of those we propose to help.
This will take time and a willingness to listen to voices we’ve previously overlooked as our teachers. I’ve made many mistakes which I’ve written about here and there. But we can take a small step and:
Admit that injustice is real
“Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. . . “(Eccl. 4:1)
Such human misuse does not surprise the wise. “If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter . . .” Why not? “for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. (Eccl. 5:8)
In this verse, the wise identify what we sometimes day refer to as a systemic problem. A system is nothing more than a collection of people accustomed to making things work on the basis of particular assumptions, routines, and practices. Notice first what the wise show us: there is no one to oppose the oppressor and provide comfort for the misused. Something in the assumptions, routines, and practices being used to get through a day is not signaling that comfort for the oppressed is a value. Notice second, this absence of value is part of the culture of accountability and expectation within the organizational structure. This is why Jesus’ personal actions on behalf of the powerless put him in jeopardy with prevailing systems of power.
Examine Your Biases
“Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly. (Lev. 19:15)
Just as with the race and ethnicity of the sojourner, so the Bible says that once we’ve seen the current economic class of a human being, we still have nothing we can use to judge who this person is. If we think someone is righteous because they are poor, or more trustworthy because they are rich, we mistake what it means to treat a human being justly. Jesus ate with the poor and the rich complained. Jesus ate with the rich and the poor grumbled.
Listen with Empathy to the Victim’s Cry
Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered; I call for help, but there is no justice. (Job 19:7)
Job lost everything not only to natural disasters but due to criminal conduct. He cries out over the injustice perpetrated on his family. To do so doesn’t imply dismissal of other pained lives. Imagine going to the funeral of a grandmother. As you speak of her with tears and loss, someone tells you that you are insensitive and entitled. You are stunned. You ask him why he is saying this to you on such a terrible occasion. He answers you. “You act like your grandmother is the only one worth talking about,” he says. “Don’t all family members matter?” “Why, yes,” you say. “Of course all lives matter.” But to cry for the value of our grandmother, doesn’t mean we dismiss the value of uncles, aunts, parents, siblings, and cousins. It’s just that at this moment it is grandma who died.
Give Your Voice
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Pr. 31:8-9)
Add Justice to Your Prayer Life
- intercession Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them. (Ps. 10:17-18. See also Prov. 1)
- complaint/Lament Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? (see also Ps. 44:24, 42:9; 43:2)
- petition Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts.(Ps. 119:34) Like a swallow or a crane I chirp; I moan like a dove. My eyes are weary with looking upward. O Lord, I am oppressed; be my pledge of safety! (Is. 38:14)
Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely. (Prov. 28:5) This means that if we want to seek the Lord, he will bring us into an understanding of justice for powerless neighbors. We cannot seek the Lord and see the plight of powerless neighbors as a side issue.
Notice How You Talk
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice (Ps. 37:30) A Hebrew proverb explains itself by comparing the first part of the sentence with the second. “Utters wisdom” and “speaks justice” go together.
The wise speak of justice. Justice can only come about through wisdom. Do you talk like this?
Notice How You Think When Trying to Turn a Profit
A merchant, in whose hands are false balances, he loves to oppress. (Hosea 12:7)
Create Art/Add Songs of Justice to Your Play List
I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music. (Psalm 101:1)
Pace Your Emotional Life
Surely oppression drives the wise into madness, and a bribe corrupts the heart (Eccl. 7:7) When you witness oppression in real-time, the trauma stays with you. An eyewitness bears with the trauma of the one moment–relived over and again. Be careful. When you scroll and scroll watching violent injustices one after another after another, you need time to grieve, feel, lament, break down.
You cannot binge-watch murder like Law and Order or Game of Thrones. Pretend murders can entertain. The real thing is madness. Pace yourself.
Seek non-virtual relationships, not just virtual actions
“Give counsel; grant justice; make your shade like night at the height of noon; shelter the outcasts; do not reveal the fugitive; let the outcasts of Moab sojourn among you; be a shelter to them from the destroyer. (Isaiah 16:3–5)
Once we’ve taken virtual action by posting, we still have to open our non-virtual door and take a non-virtual step toward a non-virtual person.
Be careful before judging someone on the basis of their virtual life. Local non-virtual pursuits of relationships and justice can fill a day.
Watch out for Pride which Uses Injustice in the Name of Justice
“Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” (2 Sam. 15:4)
King David’s son imagined himself able to bring about a just society better than his Dad. He saw himself as societies’ rescuer and justified his use of injustice. Many died. Including himself.
Take Heart. Botched Attempts and Prideful Assumptions Needn’t Have the Last Word
Moses got it all wrong. But that wasn’t the last chapter in his story or theirs or ours. Grace came and spoke his name. Grace can speak our name too for One greater than Moses has come.
To consider more fully what justice is, who it is for, and why Jesus followers should care, watch this video message, entitled: What Can We Do To Help the Cause of Justice?
A preacher promises immunity from Covid-19. He says, “If you are born again, read your Bible, and tithe, you have the Ps. 91 protection policy!” Another defies social distancing to prove his faith in the midst of fear. What are we to make of this? At first glance, you can see why such preachers urge us to say and do likewise.
He will deliver you . . . from the deadly pestilence. (Ps. 91:3)
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. (Ps. 91:7)
No evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. (Ps. 91:10)
I do not doubt the earnestness of such preachers. But unwittingly, such preachers expose us to a different kind of infection; a spiritual kind with damaging physical consequences; the kind that community-spreads through a naive use of the Bible and brings harm to ordinary people.
We Try Not to Test God
Notice that the psalmist writes these promises because they happened. In Israel’s history, plagues touched the tent of Egypt, but not the tents of those who believed in this God of the Bible. Contrary to our skepticism, it is a fact that God can and has kept his people from harm at times. But contrary to our romanticism this fact is not a norm. It reveals the character of God, not a coupon from God. How do we know?
First, the context of this Psalm. Even a king in Israel is not immune to the harm that trolls the fallen world. Stick your hand where a serpent is known to dwell and it will bite you, no matter who you are (Eccl. 10:5-8). Israel’s proverbs say it twice: “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it” (Proverbs 22:3).
If we don’t know whether or not the plant in front of us is poison Ivy, it is unwise to find out by rubbing it, no matter how true or strong our faith.
Second, and most importantly, Jesus tells us how to interpret the promises of Psalm 91. The devil took Jesus to the top of a building, quoted promises from Psalm 91 and dared Jesus, saying: “Throw yourself down” God will protect you. Jesus responded plainly. “It is written. You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matt. 4:5-7). By his response, Jesus makes it plain. Psalm 91 promises are not immunity passes.
If we find ourselves following an interpretation of the Bible favored by the devil and dismissed by Jesus, we are errant preachers no matter how earnest.
A married man who begins texting another woman after-hours tests rather than trusts his covenant vows. Such a man challenges rather than cherishes his wife. A woman, who is two-years sober walks into a bar. Her actions test rather than trust the sobriety that she and her family have fought for. A child runs out into the street yelling, “Daddy, Daddy, because you love me, I know you’ll stop this car from hitting me! Catch me if you can!” The child demands the right to act recklessly rather than rely on good reasons for relational trust.
- Some Christians and Christian Institutions, urge us to show the world our faith by resisting social-distancing. But I suggest that what this shows the world is not our faith, but our naivete. We cannot use God’s promises to justify doing what that same God says is unwise. It is tragic to think that we can do something in God’s name and at the same time violate the love for neighbor God commands.
- Other earnest Christians point to how Christians in earlier eras responded to plagues and disease. “They gathered together, in the midst of the very worst of it, so should we.” Yes, but what about what love for a sick neighbor requires? I suggest we are failing to make an important distinction–a distinction necessary for discerning the difference between testing God and trusting God in a pandemic.
What we as Christians do by faith before a pandemic peaks, must differ from what we do by faith after a pandemic reveals its wreckage.
We Seek to Trust God
If we find ourselves like those early Christians on the other side of the peak in the Black Plague, our sense of what wise love demands changes. With doctors and nurses dying, with people abandoned in their disease, and with clergy performing multiple funerals every day, these Psalm 91 promises find their proper role. They rouse the courage necessary to love our neighbor, even our enemy, even if they are contagious.
We don’t prove our faith by defying orders in order to shake the hand of another Christian. We prove our faith by denying ourselves so that we can clear the throat of a neighbor who can’t breathe.
In 1527, Martin and Katherina Luther stayed behind to aid the sick and dying in their city. Katherina was pregnant. Earlier, the Luthers freed the consciences of fellow Christians to leave the city for safety. But later, the devastation ransacked medical aid, medical professionals died, help was scarce and over-run. People needed help and had little. Martin and Katherina took up their Savior’s call to visit and care for the sick even at risk to their own lives. If we defy social distancing let it be because a sick or dying neighbor needs help and has none.
Why? Because Jesus teaches his followers that love for neighbor out of love for God includes care for the sick and not leaving the sick untended. (Matt. 25:36-40; Lk. 10:9) No wonder the first public hospital was started by a follower of Jesus and 9 of the top 10 American hospitals today were founded by Christians. No wonder, so many Christians have died throughout history because they would not leave the sick unattended in a plague. In a 3rd-century pandemic in which 5000 died each day it was said of Christians: “Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ . . . Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead.”
As a pandemic begins, ordinary Christians care for the sick by sacrifically limiting themselves. As a pandemic rolls on, ordinary Christians care for the sick by sacrificially spending themselves.
An Italian priest sick with Covid-19 gave his ventilator to another. The priest died. The other lived.
We Find Hope and Help in the Promises
In 1854, a young pastor named Charles Spurgeon, found himself amid a Cholera outbreak. Daily he visited those under his care and gradually the funerals and death-bed scenes overloaded his mental and physical strength. A shoemaker posted Psalm 91 in his business window. The young pastor saw the promise and the God who made it. He said:
“The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying, in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The Providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window, I gratefully acknowledge; and in the remembrance of its marvelous power, I adore the Lord my God.”
Charles died, not then of Cholera, but later, by other means. The promises of Psalm 91 did not empower him to test God. Rather the promises enabled this weary and worn lover of neighbor, who was stricken with grief and exhaustion, to keep on with such love. He saw afresh that his work was done within the shade of the Almighty. He saw afresh that his life was in the hands of God. God could keep him safe. God could take him home. Either way, he was in the shelter of the Almighty. With this kind of shelter, we see more clearly that death itself will die, and we are freed beneath that shade, to unhide ourselves when a suffering neighbor needs us. His promises pave the way.
Candle-wishes on birthday cakes are fun and meaningful, like childhood songs, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight.” We whisper and hum what we hope for. But, once we blow out candles, what do we hope in? Pandemic times like these demand anchors for our aspirations. Our wish needs a way. According to Psalm 91, the anchor, the way, is God.
Pandemic Takes Place in the Presence of God
The songwriter begins by putting the pandemic back where it belongs, beneath God’s presence. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (vs. 1)”
Resilient hope begins here. News of pandemic wants to make you feel like nothing else exists. Pandemic acts like a god taking center stage. It is like the noon-day sun heating the sky to wither us (vs. 6). But the pandemic isn’t the only character in our story. In fact, God is so near, that God is like one standing next to you in the sun. His shadow shades you.
Some tell us that we must separate public knowledge from private faith. Science, public health and faith don’t belong together. But this follower of God disagrees. It is time to re-connect our earthly experience with our faith in God. After all, the ancient pandemic spoken of in Psalm 91, took place under the same sun and moon that you see every day and night, on land that you could visit right now in the real world if not for expense, social distancing, and quarantine. The story we tell is this:
Pandemic is on the move, yes. But so is God!
We look pandemic in the face and take our stand. “I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (vs. 2)
Overcome Your Anxiety by Noticing Your Dwelling Places
But maybe you struggle to take hold of this shade. It would make sense if you did. Maybe anxiety agitates and fidgets you. You can’t feel the shade. God and your world are fragmented.
Anxieties have crawled over my life for years. When anxious I search for dwelling places. Certain dwelling places only inflame my worries. Like a two-day-old mosquito bite. Scratch it once and the itch reignites. Sometimes we are tossed about by everything we dread but cannot find anchor, partly because of where we are choosing to dwell. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High” says the Psalmist (vs. 1). “Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place,” says the Lord (vs. 9). Sure, you might say, but how can you hold an anchor when your hands shake and your grip fails you? I’m trying to say, “exactly!” That’s the whole grace of it.
You don’t steady an anchor. An anchor steadies you.
So, pause today. Notice your dwelling places. Ask yourself this question: “Do the dwelling places I choose anxious me or anchor me?” Perhaps you’ve made the news your dwelling place. Perhaps you are scrolling, scrolling, scrolling to find dwelling places that in the end aren’t steadying you at all. What would it be like for you to let this Psalmist invite you to a different dwelling place? What would it be like for God and His promises to be your dwelling place today?
Overcome the Distance Between You and God by Considering the Metaphors
But, maybe thoughts of God only increase your anxiety. I get it. As we’ll talk about in our next post, even this Psalm gets misused to hurt people. God’talk doesn’t feel anchoring for you because of wounds. Or feeling agnostic about God you say you can’t know whether the God this Psalmist describes is real. Perhaps your apathy says, “It wouldn’t matter if we could know.”
Maybe any idea of God makes you anxious, hesitant or skeptical, especially from a God-talker like me.
But, if you were willing, what metaphor would you use to describe God? Anxious and pained, maybe you’d say, “God is tantrum-prone, a perfectionist jerk.” Agnostic, maybe you’d say, “God is like a fog.” Or, “God is a black void.” Or, “God is an introvert. He doesn’t like social interaction.” Apathetic, perhaps you’d say something like, “God is like the appendix in our bodies. We have no idea what use it is.” Or “God is a tree ornament. Fine to look at but makes no practical difference.” Read Psalm 91. Consider who the songwriter knows God to be. God is:
- A Bird Carrying You Beneath His Wings
- A Shield
- A Buckler
- A Dwelling Place
- A Commander
- A Guardian
- Name Knower
- With you in Times of Trouble
What if you chose one or two of these metaphors and grew curious about them? If it was your day to blow out the candles, which descriptors of God would you wish for? Which descriptors feel like the kind of place you’d like to dwell and hope in? How might your life change if these descriptors of God were true?
For more, see How to Handle a Pandemic, Part 1 OR Watch/listen to my sermon entitled, “How to Handle our Fear in a Pandemic”
People are afraid. Pandemic has found them. The songwriter offers hope. “Don’t be afraid!” he says. But hope must be realistic to help. Amid its sturdy promises, we mustn’t overlook the realism that Psalm 91 uses to describe pandemic conditions. How do we even begin to handle a pandemic? First, we have to get honest about it.
Learn to talk realistically about the help we need
The writer of this song, likely a leader in Israel, has “pestilence” on his mind. Pestilence refers to what we call, a pandemic. First, notice how honestly he names the situation. The situation is “deadly” (vs. 3). The sickness is a “terror,” like something that creeps in the night undetected. Even in the daytime, it bypasses our defenses (vs. 6). He calls it a “plague” (vs. 10). Second, he realistically assesses the number of people who could die. A thousand may fall. Maybe ten times that much (vs. 7). Third, notice the words of empathy for this evil experience throughout the Psalm. He tries to name how this all makes us feel. People feel ensnared and trapped (vs. 3), exposed and unprotected (vs. 4). People feel the need to be guarded, rescued, helped, saved (vs. 11-16). People are afraid (vs. 5) and this songwriter/leader wants to strengthen their faith and resolve.
What does this mean for us?
1. When listening to leaders, look for those who are honest, realistic and empathetic; voices who neither dismiss nor exaggerate, who are unselfish in putting themselves into our shoes, and rather than playing to our fears, they enter them and seek to give us real, not false, hope. If you are a leader of a nation, a company, a school, a classroom, a church, a bible study, a family, this path is your guide.
2. When thinking about our own spiritual life, we are not meant to act naively (“it isn’t a big deal,” “it will all be fine”) or foolishly (“it’s all going to hell so get out of my way–I gotta get mine”). Grace will invite you to wise realism instead.
3. For those who follow Jesus, we read this psalm and are reminded of his realism. “In the world, you will have trouble,” Jesus says (Jn. 16:33). He has in mind that his followers will resist naive romanticism about their lives as occupied minorities beneath the Roman empire. Take note. If you follow Jesus, he will teach you to speak more, not less, truthfully about the help you and others need. This means that if you are prone to underestimate, shrug-off or exaggerate the sometimes terrifying plight of being human in this world, Jesus will counter you with grace. Discipleship with Jesus means in part, learning his honest, realistic talk about life under the sun.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Jesus won’t stop there. The songwriter of Psalm 91 won’t stop there either. By grace, neither will we. “In the world, you will have tribulation,” yes. “But take heart,” Jesus says. “I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). Jesus will teach us to name the realistic help we need. He died to secure such wisdom for us. As we’ll talk about in my next post, our realistic help, when handed over to God, has the power to lead us to a resilient hope. But before we get to the hope, we must start here, in age-appropriate ways, realistically naming the help we need. Wisdom calls for it. Christian life assumes it.
What is One Step You Can Take?
Honest naming isn’t safe for many of us. We’ve grown up in family systems or institutional environments, that either punish those who try to be honest or damage others in the name of being honest. We won’t get it perfect. But we can take this imperfect step.
Notice words of pain used by the Psalmist to describe the experience of those going through the pandemic; words like snare, deadly, terror, evil, arrow, stalks in darkness, destruction, plague, trouble, needing rescue.
- Ask your friend or niece, your spouse or kids, your employees or congregation, students or neighbors, “What words come to mind to describe what you are experiencing?”
- Now, if they use a word like “terror” or “evil” or “deadly” or whatever word they use, receive it, give it dignity. Meet them where they are. Hear them. Don’t story steal (you think that’s bad? Let me tell you about me) or immediately coach (you know you really shouldn’t describe it that way, let me tell you the right word you should use).
- Now put yourself in their shoes. Imagine what it must be like if the world really was a place like they describe it, a place of terror or night-stalking. Say, “That’s frightening. How are you getting through?”
- It’s not that promise and hope don’t arrive. We’ll talk about this next time. But it is obvious when you read through this Psalm, that the promises offered are a response to first having listened and understood the trouble experienced.
This being in somebody’s shoes to understand the real help they need reveals part of why Christians cherish the cross of Jesus. Jesus paid for our bluffing, shoulder-shrugging, neighbor-dismissing, naivete, in times of deadly pestilence. He paid for our blustering, reactive, selfish, price-gouging, “to hell with it all” responses in times of disease and death. He paid for leaders and people who mislead or leverage rather than help and heal. Jesus conquered and rose to forgive us these follies, to heal those of us who’ve been sinned against by them, and to recover the grace of realistic honesty intended for the good of those who inhabit God’s world.
For more, listen to my sermon entitled “How to Handle Fear in a Time of Pandemic”
Praying God’s promises sounds something like this.
(1) Speak the promise to God. “Lord you say that you are near to the brokenhearted.”
(2) Find yourself in the promise. “Lord, I am brokenhearted . . .”
(3) Apply the promise: This means that you have promised to be near to me.
(4) Give thanks: “Lord, thank you for being near me.”
(5) Get honest: “Lord, I don’t feel your nearness. Lord will you make your promise felt to me?”
(6) Take hold: “I wait for you Lord. I take heart that what I do not feel is true nonetheless. You are mine and I am yours. You are near me! I am not alone.”
(7) Testify: When someone asks, how are you doing? You include, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted. I’m counting on that!”
(1) Speak the promise to God. “Lord, you say that you will supply my every need”
(2) Find your loved-one in the promise. “My daughter can’t find a job Lord.”
(3) Apply the promise: “You say that her every need is in your care.”
(4) Give thanks: “Lord, thank you that our daily bread matters to you.”
(5) Get honest: “I feel emboldened and freed,”
Or “I can’t see it, but I look to you”
(6) Take hold: “I trust you. Lord supply her every need. We wait for you. We count on you.”
(7) Testify: When someone asks who your daughter is doing, you include, “The Lord has pledged to supply our every need. I’m waiting on that”
What happens when you cannot find yourself in the promise?
For example, imagine that you’ve found the promise about
God who loved the world. He gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not die but have eternal life. You look to the
promise but cannot find yourself there. You have not yet believed in Jesus or the God who sent him. This means that this promise is not yet yours. At this moment:
The promise of assurance for the Christian turns into a promise of invitation to the one who isn’t a Christian.
This promise can become yours! All you need do is look to Jesus in faith as the One whom God sent out of love for
you. Then, the pledge of God is yours. As his own dear child in Jesus, all the benefits of this promise belong to you. Death comes
knocking at your door. It seeks to conquer you forever. But you put on the playlist. You begin to sing the promise. Death shrinks
back. The promise giver makes good on the promise made. Death must let you go. Death must die as it relates to you. Life with the
God who so loved you and gave his son for you, awaits!
Another reason, we may not find ourselves in the promise is because the promise was made to a particular person for a unique purpose. God promised Abraham and Sarah children and this for a very specific purpose. We do not receive this same promise. What do we do? At this moment, the promise of assurance for them turns into a promise of exploration and praise for us. We explore the context of the promise. We learn about the character of the One who made the promise and praise Him. Though the specific promise is not for us. The God who made the promise is. The same Being they leaned upon, remains available for us to lean upon too.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Cor. 1:20, NIV)
For more, see my Small Group Study Guide and Audio message entitled, “Getting Started with the Promises of God”
“I am the way, and the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jesus)
Jesus sounds narrow minded and arrogant. He suggests that we locate God through no other way but His. This kind of exclusive claim disgusts many of us. We are wore out with the mean dismissal of human beings on the basis of our believing differently from one another. No wonder we feel this way. So many have claimed that they alone possess what is true, that a great deal of harm and hurt has resulted over the years. And yet, despite this terrible harm that arrogance in the name of God has caused us human beings, it startles us, doesn’t it, to admit how important it is on some occasions to give thanks for what is exclusive? (more…)