25 July 2007

Faith and Theodicy

A rather important lesson of faith that I learned in Kenya:

I don't have much, they certainly do.

That's what it boils down too. Culture. Distance. Lifestyle. I have everything I need. If my job doesn't provide me with enough money and to spare, I have my parents to fall back on. I take my easy life for granted.

But most people around the world do not live like that. They must depend fully on God for every need. They have such faith and such faithfulness in the little things. They don't get bored by repetition, but menial tasks. Each is vitally important and well-worth doing.

I wish I could find something like that.

In another breath I'd like to express some confusion about the paradoxes of proximity contrast. That sounds like quite a nice sentence but it means nothing yet. What I mean is that I've never really had a problem with theodicy, the problem of evil. That is to say, I know evil exists and I understand that God does as well, but I never had the problem of faith so many others express.

Until I traveled to Kenya.

Now, I've been to some very poor parts of the world. The Tarahumara of Mexico are still quite the poorest people I've encountered, but it was the contrast that struck me in Kenya. We stayed in the city. We stayed with basically middle-class Christian families. We visited the 10/10 Project's partners in the slums with several Kenyan students from the church. I was shocked that some of them had never before been to the slums. The slums that make up at least half of the population of Nairobi and are located only a few miles from these people's homes. I realized then that ignorance is not a strictly American pastime. America simply takes it to a higher level. We're dumb on purpose. Others are simply uninformed. That's how I interpret it.

So with this contrast and my extended knowledge of the subject matter and hand (namely poverty, through classes) I found that I did have a small problem with the whole theodicy thing. Then I referred back to my initial point about faith. And I realized that, again, it is I who am the problem.

God doesn't have problems. Only answers.