Who Saves the World?


Who Saves the World?

Kairos has a very interesting post, but I find myself somewhat at odds with the language (but probably not with the intent).

The first instance is in this short paragraph:

I know I have said this before, but it bears constant repetition: You cannot fix the world. You can only save it.

First, I must say, there are several ways to read this. If it is intended to say "The world cannot be fixed, it can only be saved," which, I believe is the intent, then I would have to concur, even if it is passive language. However, if the claim is that I as an individual can so some sort of saving, then I must demur and point at the One who saves. The reason I make a point of this is that all too many people today are ready to say that we can save the world. Look at any lobby--pro-abortion, anti-abortion, pro-gun-control, anti-gun-control, pro-environment, pro-business--you name it, and they all have the panacea that will make for the perfect world. (Well, not really, but many seem to think of their cause in this light.) While many of these causes are profoundly right-headed and certainly likely to shift the world into the right direction, salvation is from God alone. So, I must repeat, while I do not attribute this reading to Kairos, I must take exception to the literal reading of it.

Another place where I was a bit perturbed was in this quotation, "The souls of the corrupt priests and corrupted victims require significant attention. . . " once again, I believe my disagreement is with the phrasing, not the thought. A person who engages in an activity against his or her will is not "corrupted" by that activity. If they are persuaded to engage in it and then continue afterwards, then I would say that corruption had occurred. We might say that they had been "defiled" by it, but even that language disturbs me because it suggests that there is now something about the person that is wrong or distorted. In fact, there is not. Violation is the only word that can be used to describe the effect on the person, and what that "grows into" is really dependent on the person.

The corruption is on the part of the one perpetrating the act, and on that person alone. The only thing the victim suffers is harm--neither corruption nor uncleanness. We know this because Jesus pointed out that it was not what went into a person that produced uncleanness but what came out of them. Once again, I urge caution in the language because we are a society inclined to blame the person harmed. I have heard ludicrous arguments out of courtrooms suggesting that children as young as four years old "enticed" and participated in their own violation. The other extreme this leads to is that deplored by St. Augustine. Speaking in The City of God about some virgins who had committed suicide rather than suffer defilement, Augustine noted that there was nothing saintly about this action, that the preservation of virginity was not first and foremost a cause to be pursued above all others. (Note, this has nothing to do with the circumstances of Maria Goretti, who categorically DID NOT commit suicide--she was murdered). We mustn't conclude that the violation of these children corrupted or harmed them in an irreparable spiritual way. They have no "spot on their souls" for what happened to them.

Once again, it may sound as though I'm taking Kairos to task over this--I wish to dispel that notion. I am simply using some of the things he wrote about as a springboard to addressing some of the thoughts people have about these issues. If one misreads Kairos's intentions, it would be very easy to fall back into a morality that imputes the stain of a crime to the victim, and I am absolutely certain that was not his intention. So, my apologies beforehand to Kairos for a more or less semantic assault. But my thanks also for allowing me to address issues that are left too often unnoticed.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 5, 2002 10:50 AM.

Meditation on the Office of Readings was the previous entry in this blog.

Hazel Mote, Anyone? is the next entry in this blog.

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