Ferguson is burning. We watch uneasily from a distance. We may be miles from Missouri, but this raises questions that are all too close to home.
My facebook feed has erupted in fiery arguments.
What is behind the violence? Is this all about systematic racism and scripted oppression?
Or is it about sin?
Sin is systematic. Sin is a script.
If sin was just a matter of isolated individual decisions, racism wouldn't be quite so hard to deal with. Neither would fatherlessness, or any other sort of abandonment.
Everybody should just make good choices, and the world will be happy. Easy as pie, right?
But none of us make our choices in a vacuum. Not anymore. Not since Adam and Eve.
Our first parents made their choice to sin in a peaceful paradise with a perfect father, but the rest of us can only dream about that kind of privilege. In different ways and tho different degrees, we are all struggling to cope with the fallout from that first fall.
Ashamed of his disobedience, Adam tried to justify himself before God by throwing Eve under the bus. Cain learned the art of betrayal from from his father, amped it up a bit, and became the world's first murderer. Their descendants took this legacy and paid it forward with ample interest. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy times seven, and so on and so forth until the whole world was full of violence, and God regretted ever making mankind in the first place.
And then, when the world was shiny and clean again, when the dove with the olive leaf had finally found a place to rest on the blood soaked earth, when human civilization consisted of a single family homestead and a rainbow.... Granddad passed out drunk, cursed the kid whose dad had dared to laugh, and the cycle began all over again.
It's a script that we copy out for our children every generation in fresh red ink. This is what we humans do, and it's only natural. We take the hurt that we've been given and pass it on and on.
Jesus shed his blood to write us a new script, with a different kind of seventy times seven.
It's a costly script, but its our only hope.
Michael Symmons Roberts*
1 day ago