Making Our Way in the World Today (1/4)

“Nothing is more powerful than beauty in a wicked world,” sings artist Amos Lee. He’s not wrong. The theologian in me wants to nuance the notion of a wicked world, because I think this place is more of a mixed bag than that. But I still think Amos is on to something.

Our world is filled with both horror and glory. It can be a very confusing place. How are we going to make it? Really? Life can be disorienting, can’t it? What’s helping you navigate? How are you staying centered or grounded? How do you find flourishing?

The first-century theologian, Paul, explains three gifts from God that—for me—offer a framework for making our way in the world today. These have been called the theological virtues. They are faith, hope, and love.

This short series will offer a reflection on each. And because they are described as virtues, these gifts are to be imbibed, swallowed whole. It makes me think of a few funny lines from my favorite author G.K. Chesterton, lines which I’m unable to recall exactly or find precisely at the moment. In a silly poem, Chesterton describes a woman who eats a lot (a habit in which he shared as he was a large man). He says something to the effect that the more she ate, the more she was.

All of that food somehow turned into more of her. That is a funny and sadly true reality. In other words, go easy on the sweets, y’all. The more you eat, the more of you there will be. Your increasingly uncomfortable clothes will testify. We can all meet up a the Y in January to get crackin’ on our New Year’s resolutions. But let’s not worry about that until we take our trees down. Amiright?!

Faith, hope, and love, are to be digested. And the more we eat, the more we become. They are to be taken into the deepest part of us. Somehow, mysteriously, they transform and expand who we are. But to ignore these gifts means to shrink into ourselves, to become a smaller version of who we were meant to be. If you’ve seen someone starved of faith, hope, and love, you can tell. The soul malnourished of these virtues cannot thrive.

Faith gives us roots. Hope gives us wings. Love gives us earth and sky, a place for belonging and becoming. Christmas shows us how these virtues invade and pervade this wicked world offering us something so powerful it seems best described as beautiful.

Part One

Part Two (Faith)

Part Three (Hope)

Part Four (Love)