Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Have a Dangerous New Year

When I hear people telling me to have a safe new year, I appreciate the sentiment, and I know what they mean.  Untold harm is caused to oneself, and to others, when one forgets his responsibility to take care of himself.  Whether in one's partying, or in terms of work habits, or whatever, placing ourselves into unnecessary danger is irresponsible, foolish, and bad stewardship of the gifts of this life. 

I would like to employ this good advise, however, also as a point of departure for a couple of thoughts which are worthy of consideration as we set course on a new year.

First, one of the dangers, to our souls, in the level of importance we in the modern West have given to the "Be safe" approach to life is that it sends the message that immoral behavior is okay, so long as we engage in them in a safe manner.  This is a mistake, and poses great danger, not only for the individual soul, but also for our culture generally.

Second, there is an important sense in which we should actually follow the opposite approach to life.  That is, within one's calling and vocation, out of love for our neighbor (which is really all mankind, especially those who directly relate to us according to our various callings), and out of respect for the great unknown potential that is life, we ought to be bold, take risks, and embrace danger.

And so one of my more general goals, and my wish for the reader, is to take more risks, and in that sense, have a dangerous new year.

6 comments:

Fr. Jay Watson said...

As the Latin aphroism correctly noted "carpe diem," and as the Benedictines say in one of their mottos "keep death daily before your eyes." I think your post is well timed for a sissifed American Culture and a far-too dandified Church Culture. The Apostles Saint Paul and Petros lived dangerously for/in/with the Gospel, and may we may so Graced to live likewise. Thanks Latif.

David Clapper said...

Not that my occupation is terribly dangerous, but since I often have no idea how I'm going to accomplish the tasks assigned to me, I pray the following almost every day. I've added an emphasis which I believe fits well with your post.

"Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord."

Dave Pawlak said...

If you want dangerous, drink coffee while watching this. It's not satire:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0S2WlvNTU8

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Dave,
That's both dangerous and scary. I'm glad I didn't go over to Alterra and watch it there. I would have made a mess. Of course the truly dangerous and scary thing is that many would like & enjoy this video.

Michael L. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D said...

An important and provocative message, superbly articulated as always! Well done, Dcn. Latif, well done indeed!

Of course, if we are ever true to the faith of the Church, we should always be living at risk. Our foes are both invisible, and very visible: the devil (the clown who fell from heaven like lightning, but who knows the game is up and thus is all the more dangerous, and who stalks around LIKE a roaring lion ... aping the Lion of Judah); the world, dying it is true, but still with a few tricks (and staves) up its sleeve because it hates the merciful Master who died for it; and of course our suicidal flesh, unruly as usual and stubbornly into spitting at the Lord. That is to say, it's not merely a matter of my body choosing to fall asleep, when God is sweating blood on its behalf. All of these unsavory things are most worthy of featured portraitures at the local post office.

Blessed St, Paul shakes our complacencies and our denials: forsooth, this is a life full of danger, principalities, powers, and things I very much would prefer not to contemplate, for one moment. So the churchmen are not vested to be true watchmen, on the front-line's ramparts, for nothing. If the Crucified Christ is the Way, it behooves us to remember that He not always was the recipient of waving palm leaves and the cheering adoration of little children. He, with an alarming frequency, walked in the midst of murderous crowds keen on heaving heavy rocks at him, or flinging Him off of a nearby cliff.

We ask our 12-13 year old confirmands to be faithful to their baptismal confession "unto death," but I get the nagging and impious impression that this is extracted all too speedily and only semi-seriously ("I mean, when can we go home, ditch my white dress, change into jeans and start my party with the center-piece ice statue, Mom?") The "sissified American" Culture (ironically, one besotted by Death) would not allow for any full sobriety and grasp of reality here. But the Lord would not portray Himself as the Good Shepherd with rod and staff unless there were fanged wolves prowling about on the fringes. Christians have no fear, or at least have no fear to bow to except in the direction of God; and His icons entrusted with feeding lambs simply cannot have the luxury. In attitude they are all like the the steadfast Gordon at Khartoum's stairs, dismissing the spear-thrusts.

Conclusion? Live vigorously, and dangerously, with the rich red blood pulsating, as did shepherd Abel in the field long ago. He lived so vigorously, for teaching purposes, that his shed blood still cried to and seized God's attention. Have a most dangerous life, then, so that no world or evil Foe may take your crown while your cooperating flesh snoozes.

Your (unworthy) servant,
Herr Doktor, SSP

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Good doctor and brother,

Thank you for your input. Indeed, in the midst of a sissified, feminized, and I would suggest, infantilized culture, bleeding itself into the Church more every day, the Church needs men on both sides of the altar rail who will "play the man," and I'm glad to count you in that dangerous and risk-taking group. Of course, in ourselves we can boast of nothing but sleepiness, as you point out, but in Christ we shall risk all and foresake all, for His sake.