Wednesday, February 09, 2005

imagine a world without God

I usually arrive at the church where I work at around 8:00 a.m., unless I've had a breakfast meeting with someone, which isn't very often. Usually Pam and I have breakfast or coffee and we've read the paper. Even earlier, one or both of us has taken Abby to high school. That three-mile drive is the first spiritual experience of the day, as I am in a heightened state of awareness of the teenagers driving urban assault vehicles around me, weaving into and out of lanes, in the darkness, while other teenagers are crossing these same dark roads.

By the time I reach the church I feel that I am in something of a "survivor" mode. Anyway, a number of cars are often in our parking lot, as there are numerous activities: small groups, an adult day care, folks serving breakfast to the homeless, etc. And, as you might imagine, many of the cars have bumper stickers. The most common bumper stickers are "W", or some kind of Jesus fish, or one of the abbreviations for Carolina beach communities (such as OBX for "Outer Banks"). I see these bumper stickers so often they almost become invisible. They form a sort of "holy trinity" of bumper stickers around here.

One bumper sticker, on a car that is here most every day, reads "imagine a world without God". Now that is an odd bumper sticker for a car parked regularly at a church! I think the driver may be related to the adult day care program. That is not so important to me, although I would love to have a friendly conversation with the owner some day, and perhaps this will happen, if we arrive here at the same time of morning one day. I'm going to keep my eyes open for that opportunity.

I confess that it is difficult for me to imagine a world without God. For me, that is a world without homeless shelters, such as the one our church houses three nights a week, a world without people doing construction and repair work in the mountains of western North Carolina, as some of our men did this week, a world without medical professionals giving their valuable time to treat Haitian families, for no financial reward, as some did a few weeks ago.

A world without God for me is a world without worship or prayer or sacred music or study of scripture. A world without God is a world without Augustine or Doestoevsky, a world without Mozart or Bach, a world without Johnny Cash or Ray Charles, a world without Emmylou Harris or T.S. Eliot, a world without Martin Luther King or Desmond Tutu, a world without Mother Teresa or Paul Farmer.

It is difficult for me to imagine a world without God. I need to talk to the owner of this vehicle. Why does he or she imagine such a world? What would it look like?

Imagine a world without God.


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