Spirituality for Today – October 2010 – Volume 15, Issue 3

Editorial – Thank God for God!

By Rev. Raymond Petrucci

During our lives, we often have heard and have said, "Life is not fair." But somehow we expect life to be fair. We expect that doing the right thing, following the best advice, and keeping to the straight and narrow should produce abundant recompense. We also believe that those who are foolish, indifferent, or evil will come to a disastrous end. When events dictate otherwise, we declare, "That's not fair." There is an innate revulsion to wisdom and goodness not faring well and to injustice and criminality reaping rewards. Yet, often this is the outcome.

Hippolyte Bayard's Self-Portrait as a Drowned ManHippolyte Bayard's Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man

Examples of the unfairness of life find expression in stories of both fiction and non-fiction. In a review of the book, Photography and Literature by Francois Brunet Reakton, Andrew Startner relates, "As early as 1840, Frenchman Hippolyte Bayard experimented with artifice in his Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man. (Baynard was cheated of recognition by the inventor of the daguerreotype, Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre, who publicly announced his method of photographic reproduction after Baynard was persuaded to hold off on unveiling a rival process.) Baynard posed as if dead, and wrote in an inscription on the back of the photograph: 'The Government, which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Baynard, and so the poor wretch has drowned himself.'" Then there is the all too realistic fictional work, Maggie, A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane (1893): Maggie leaves her mother, an abusive drunk, takes up residence with her boyfriend. Abandoned by him, she, now destitute, commits suicide. Those who victimized the girl – a young woman who only wanted to live a normal and happy life – concluded that she was a girl beset by evil tendencies in her nature.

Narrations of scoundrels getting what is due them crowd our news media, but there are many unsolved cases leaving guilty persons who seemingly "beat the rap." We may know individuals whose lives have been irreparably damaged by nefarious people who escape any earthly accountability for their acts. Does crime pay? Will there ever be a time when the miscreant, the ne'er-do-well will have to pay for their sins?

Therefore, should we determine to take a laissez faire attitude toward virtuous living and choose to live a life of social indifference and self-centered opportunism? Not if the Gospels reveal the presence of a just God. Within the pages of the New Testament, Jesus speaks numerous times and with crystal clarity of final judgment with its concomitant consequences. The Judge of the World searches the heart with love and forgiveness and also – at last – with fairness. The same Jesus who died because of the sins of mankind and for the forgiveness of those sins reaches out to the sinner in hopes that the offender, repentant and contrite, will reach out to him. God will not turn his back on the sinner, but the sinner, in his or her freedom, can turn away from God. Thus, this fair and just judge will hold each soul accountable and will mete out a fair sentence.

There is the touch of the divine in the desire within human nature for justice and the rightness of things. Those who place upon themselves the mantle of Godlessness accept a worldview that muddies the waters of ideas such as right and wrong, guilt and innocence, justice and injustice. The slogan "Might makes right." is the operative law of morality in the culture of the non-sacred. No! The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the highest source of what human beings feel when they truly seek for love, forgiveness, probity, and fairness in life. Life is fair and life is unfair, but, through the power of God's love and grace, the right will prevail.