Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thy Kingdom come, Lord, to this benighted world

Been watching a documentary on Netflix off and on today, Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion. Despite its many good reviews I had put off watching it because it has the involvement of so many well- known Hollywood leftists. I expected a heavy dose of leftist propaganda.

Instead, because of the nature of the Tibetan situation, their sympathies are against the biggest leftist force on the planet these days, China, and the enormities perpetrated by China against the Tibetans over the last fifty years and more are thoroughly documented and profoundly disturbing.

I had known nothing about the political situation in Tibet until now. I certainly knew of the Dalai Lama who has traveled the world speaking for his Buddhist beliefs, but somehow it had escaped me that his primary concern is the horrendous misery of his Tibetan people at the hands of the Communist Chinese -- possibly because I avoid liberal/leftie demonstrations like the plague and there have been some on behalf of the Dalai Lama -- one of them shown at the end of this film.

The artificial ideology-driven nature of Communism is quite apparent in the statements by various Chinese spokesmen, the false ideas of "oppression" and of "religion" and the like that rationalize their brutalization and murder of the "oppressed" in their program to "liberate" them. How much of this is believed by the people who use it for propaganda I don't know, but I have the feeling at least some of it is.

The version of Buddhism preached by the Dalai Lama is completely nonviolent and quite touching in its insistence on forgiveness and nonhatred toward the Chinese. At one point in the film (around 1 hour, ten minutes into it - you can watch it on your computer from Netflix) a narrator comments how different it would be if Christians had such an immediate relationship with their leader as the Tibetans have with their Dalai Lama, because much motivation comes from such a relationship that we are apparently lacking -- a remark which is still reverberating in my head.

But we DO have such a relationship, I want to protest, and so much MORE of a relationship since it is not with a mere holy man but the God Who made all things. Our leader is NOT someone who died two thousand years ago and whom we do not expect to see again until He returns for our salvation, as the narrator claimed; our leader is MORE immediately with us than the Dalai Lama is to the Tibetans, and we don't have to go anywhere to see Him; we can address Him all day long.

But how sad that this is not apparent to others. Is this our fault or is it the nature of Christianity that it is not apparent?

I have to think it's our fault.

I often wonder to myself how it can be that we Christians are intimately connected with the omnipotent God who made this universe and yet the power that ought to be associated with that connection is so apparently lacking.

I've discovered that it takes very little exposure to the plight of peoples in the rest of the world to show up the western version of Christianity for our trivial pursuits and our powerlessness. How can we justify our humdrum preoccupations when we are potentially wielders of the power of God Himself on behalf of the world and yet keep our sights so low, so personal, instead? I receive information from a small church in India (as well as other ministries in India) a very small poor church where the pastor works all day long for his people as well as for other pastors and their people in neighboring areas when needed. His transportation is a bicycle. His people have the bare necessities but no more, simple food and clothing, a roof overhead. Periodically, houses in the area are swamped in monsoon floods. Not too far away other Christians have been suffering violent attacks from the Hindus who beat and kill them and burn their houses, tear the clothes off the women and rape them, and drive the people into the woods. It can leave a person feeling utterly helpless and useless to know just a little about these things. Then I see this film about Tibet and feel the same way. American Christians are very generous, give to causes all over the world, and yet it still leaves one feeling helpless and useless to see the need that can never be met, knowing the main need is for them to come to Christ.

And Tibet's religion of nonviolence is unfortunately a lesson to us I think, or should be. How did we ever get to defending participation in war at all? Yes, I know American wars have been good, or for good causes and all that, I know that violence on behalf of good causes can be justified easily enough ... and yet I can't get out of my mind the fact that Jesus told us not to resist evil, barely allowed a mere couple of swords for His disciples when the crucifixion was looming, preached against even hatred in the heart as murder and told us to be meek, to die to ourselves, to love, bless and forgive our enemies and the like. Aren't we told our strength is in our weakness, that HE is our strength and we only possess it by emptying ourselves of our selves? What we must sacrifice of His power by leaning to our own understanding!

Yet the Tibetan Buddhists practice meekness and nonviolence and forgiveness and we don't? A tribal religion that also practices rote ritual prayers and appeases spirits? The strength we receive in weakness is a supernatural strength; theirs is at best psychological and yet even when they lose faith in it they have more faith in theirs than we in ours.

How can this be?

The self-indulgence and worldliness and consequent spiritual weakness of the western churches is a terrible shame.

One more thing. I think capitalism is the best economic system for producing wealth and growing the economy, BUT I also think it needs restraints, and about 25 minutes or so before the end of this documentary, it does unfortunately begin to be demonstrated that another sin Christians should be working to overcome is the love of money -- a root of all evil for sure, as is shown in the growth of trade with China that has drowned out protests against their abuses of human rights.