An accompanying question would be “what is normal?” I’m thinking specifically of American culture right now. Is what we are experiencing normal? Is it natural? Are we on a trajectory on the cycle of civilization? Can it be stopped or changed? Should it?
I don’t have the answers. But then again, I don’t think the answers matter that much. It’s the questions that matter. The questions are what open us up to possibilities.
These questions have been a constant through theological history too. It’s a question of predestination – or is everything all set and there can be no variation? Another variation of this expresses a different view – the end result is set, but the way we get there is open. This opens up possibilities whereas the first view leaves us hopeless, mere puppets in a play. I wonder how there can be love when there is no openness to possibilities of how things progress.
What is natural in our world? Sin, death, anger, violence, power, control. There have been more positive things too, but when we measure and mark history, it is often based on events like war, devastation, and rulers.
The Gospel and the reign of God are the things that are unnatural in this world. That’s because the world is broken by sin. The world’s norm is that might makes right. Yet Christ declares that the meek and poor in Spirit are blessed. The world celebrates the division and war, yet Christ declares that those who are doers of peace are the blessed ones.
What is natural? What is normal? Is it what the vast majority of human history has been made up of? Or maybe this history is not normal at all. Maybe it’s out of whack. Maybe Christ has what normal is, but we’ve been looking at the world upside down. Maybe he’s turning the world right side up again – making all things right – bringing the world back to normal.