Sunday, January 1, 2012

Musings on our Rome Pilgrimage, 2011

I am going to sound like an old person.... Reflecting and sounding as if I have some worldly wisdom to impart here... Sorry if this comes across that way, but it is just my personal reflecting upon the last three months and I have learned and grown in wisdom.

Arthur (my husband) and I lived for almost two years in Seattle, we've lived near DC and in many different places in the US because for the last ten years I have traveled with him in his work. Therefore we have gotten to know the large cities of the US. These last three months we have hit several of the main cities of western Europe: London, Edinburg, Paris, Lyon, Geneva, Prague, Vienna, Venice, Rome, Barcelona, as well as little towns also.

What I have discovered is that the entire world isn't happy. There is just a black cloud of trouble, of discontent, a beneath-the-surface boiling of restlessness and resentment. The world isn't smiling--there isn't even the pretense of a smile to please tourists anymore. People are openly unhappy.

And I talked about it... I talked to every cab driver, every cleaning lady, every hotel clerk, sales clerk, pastor, priest and casual conversation with other tourists who could understand even the most modest amount of English words. I wanted to take the vital signs of the world (nurse lingo for my husband) and see how it was doing.

The western world is depressed.

We all know it in our hearts. We all have such troubles in our lives and I can tell you first hand that everyone else seems to be having big problems too.


Everyone thinks this is a money problem. Con artist beggars have flooded the west from the east. From Paris south, you are continually and aggressively harassed by fake beggars--who are hardly even attempting to hide their deceit as they will occasionally let fake crippled feet fall out from under their blankets exposing their real legs tucked under. One girl (rather plump) was playing video games on her iPod as she lay prostrate on the ground in tattered clothing pleading the mercy of the passersby for money to eat on.

Then there are the merchant salesmen who stand around every single famous monument trying to sell you cheap children's toys and scarves and trinkets and roses. They line the side walks so you have to say "NO!" as they follow you trying to get you to purchase something over and over and over until you are just exhausted from the constant bombardment. No one seems to care if their cities are being littered by garbage or by fake beggars (although for some they truly ARE beggars. They don't have jobs but are professional beggars. So they would indeed go hungry if people didn't give them money.)

There are some young pathetic girls who carry around babies and small children who they drug and ask for hand outs for their children. (Local say they actually rent the children or borrow them from other family members to look pathetic.) This fake begging is ruining it for those who truly need our help.

Everyone seems to think it is a money problem, or ethnic problem or cultural problem or religious problem and they look to their local and federal leaders for political answers. We met the Wall Street zombie demonstrators in many of the cities we went to. We thought they were following us for a while. On November 12, we were literally hedged in by the green beret and camoflauge wearing, machine gun toting soldiers  in front of palace in Rome during a street protest to oust Prime Minister Berlusconi. "Buffuno! Buffuno!" I will always remember the scene as we tiptoed upon some huge cement pots containing bushes trying to see the Prime Minster's car as it drove to Parliament.

We live in a world that is puppeted by the Father of lies. Every commercial slogan, world views, political and cultural systems are seeped in confused propaganda. We are swimming in the refuse of misinformation and twisting of the facts. There is no one to turn to who we can trust... no even ourselves. Not our church leaders. Not our politicians, not our parents, not our employers, not our television commentators or journalists. No one is trustworthy.

The problem isn't money.

The problem isn't politics.

The root of the problem and the cure is where nobody wants to look, for it makes us very uncomfortable. We can't blame anyone, and we can't look to anyone to solve it for us. For the problem is sin.

Not general sins--like poverty, social injustice, intolerance.
Not general sins even in our own lives such as the gray cloudy tendency towards sinning because of our fallen natures.

The problem is more direct. It is our personal day to day ignoring of little lies, of excusing moral demands. It is our laughing at dirty jokes. It is our divorces, our abortions, our sexual immorality, our pride, our selfishness, our self-centeredness, our impatience, our demanding of rights, our critical thinking of others, our laziness, our greed, our love of money, our disrespect of others or giving of our time to pleasures that corrupt, music that corrupts, entertainment that corrupts, friends that corrupt....

Sin doesn't point just outward. We live in a world that is blinded to its own sins and therefore cannot repent and be healed. This is a sin problem that will not go away until we each repent be forgiven and begin anew in Christ.

We will not be healed as individuals, as families, communities and countries until we are holy.

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