Opinions Expressed in "Rants," while informed by Catholic doctrine, are merely the opinions of the author.
Not Everything is Meant to Be
One of the most common, fundamental errors that people make, I find, is in assuming that everything that happens, is MEANT TO happen - that its the way God intended it, that it has an underlying meaning and purpose.
I think a lot of us would like to think that it has a meaning, and that this meaning is understandable for us humans too.
The idea that the world is chaotic and random, that sometimes bad things happen for NO apparent reason, and with no intended purpose behind it, is terrifying.
Some believe that it is SO terrifying, particularly for ancient peoples, that they INVENTED reasons - and those reasons, for why everything happens as they do, are called "religions." Some very smart people believe this, and are making a comeback on the popular literary circuit.
And for those of us IN a religion, the notion that everything happens "for a reason" can lead us to all kinds of strange conclusions, and give us a rather strange understanding of God, one that inevitably strays away from the God revealed in the Bible.
Here is a short list of some common examples of this statement being used to lead to strange conclusions:
1) The car accident that killed two children - it was God's will. This is a terrible thing to say, and gives us a terrible picture of God, as one who wills our suffering, and the death of children.
2) God gave me cancer. This statement either leads one to blame themselves, thinking God is punishing them for cancer, and that their sins are so serious that we DESERVE cancer (ignoring Christ's paying the price for our sins on the cross), OR it presents us with a God who, again, causes suffering for either no reason, or to teach us a lesson - but PRETTY TOUGH LESSON.
3) God makes people gay. While it is true that people do not choose to be gay, and may even be born that way, this does not indicate that God intended it that way. This confusion has led some to believe that God would sanction gay marriage, despite Biblical statements to the contrary.
4) God destroyed New Orleans. Often people remember Sodom and Gomorrah, and how according to the Bible, God destroyed these cities for their sinfulness, and determine that modern natural disasters have similar divine origin. The problem here is that all the innocent victims are ignored - remember that the Bible story does make reference to sparing the innocent. It also shows a random, rather monstrous god, who needs to be placated from his wrath, either by ritual or by our good behavior - this kind of god is what the Bible refers to as an "idol," and is reflective of superstition rather than religion.
5) God created the natural and social order, appointing some to be powerful, and some to serve. We don't see this attitude so much in modern day in our culture, but throughout history, and in some other parts of the world, this attitude is prevalent. It's the mentality that leads to such notions as aristocracy and the divine rite of kings, or the caste system. It has also been used to justify slavery. The notion is - "God made things the way they are, so we should just accept them, and not do anything to change the social order." It has been used to justify poverty, tyranny, injustice, racism, and it discourages people from doing anything about these social evils. "Just leave things the way they are," it is argued, "because God made it this way."
And there are many, many other examples.
So, what are we left with? If God doesn't intend these things, why DO they happen? How can God be a God of JUSTICE? how can he be our SAVIOR?
The answer lies, I believe, not in that these things are somehow God's will - but in the fact that God will make something good come out of them, despite the fact that they are NOT God's will.
Its a bit of a paradox, I know. God allows things to happen that are not God's will - that statement doesn't appear to make sense, from a purely logical, philosophical point of view. But it DOES seem to harmonize with our actual EXPERIENCE of life.
God making something good come out of it - this is what some would call God's REDEEMING the tragedy. Making it bear life.
Because the reality is, as the Lion King make clear, death can lead to life's continuation - this is a sacred cycle. Its God making death LEAD TO life.
So none of the above mentioned problems, or any other situation that makes us question "why did this happen," are God's will - but ALL of them can lead us closer to God, through compassion, through advocacy, sometimes through social action. All of these bring us closer to the Sacred Heart of Christ, and allow us to share in his cross, which God REDEEMED, by the Resurrection.