cynicism [sĭn′ĭ-sĭz″əm] noun 1: An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others. 2: A scornfully or jadedly negative comment or act. 3: The beliefs of the ancient Cynics.
It is easy to get cynicism and skepticism confused. In fact, they sometimes get used interchangeably. However, they are not interchangeable. Cynicism is a posture or attitude toward life. Skepticism is an intellectual activity in which one weighs the evidence and says, “I’ve got some doubts.”
It’s not unusual to hear people complaining about the present and longing for the “good ol’ days.” The complaints are about almost anything that requires new knowledge, different skills, or uncertainty.
Recently a friend of mine said something like “remember polio?” He was comparing that scourge to the current pandemic. During the early 50’s approximately 35,000 people a year became infected with polio. Our nation was terrified by the prospects of paralysis and being confined to an iron lung.
Conspiracy theories are nothing new. You could argue that they are as old as mankind. First Adam and Eve believing the half truths they were told in the Garden. “You will not die,” said the Breitbart news of that day. And then there was the report of the spies to the nation of Israel. “We are not able to defeat these people because they are stronger than we are.” Numbers 13:31.
On May 5 Mitch McConnell told reporters that he was, “One-hundred percent [focused] on stopping this new administration.”
It was an interesting line in the sand that he was drawing, not based on any principle or vision other than just putting his party back in power in Congress. It is a stunning assertion and effectively stops any possibility of inter-party dialogue or decision making for the good of the country.
Yesterday a friend of mine told me about “One-way Missionaries.” In the early 1900s there was a group of missionaries who, when they were about to embark on a mission to a foreign land, would not pack a suitcase as most people would. Instead, they took a coffin which they packed with their belongings, along with a one-way ticket. By so doing, they demonstrated their intention to die sooner or later in the new land they were adopting.
Some of the major English dictionaries select a “Word of the Year.” The word is selected basically on its frequency of use in the past year. Selfie was the Oxford Dictionary word of the year in 2013, because Oxford research noticed a 17,000% increase in its use since the previous year.
So popular the word, people began playing with the word and gave birth to welfie which is a workout selfie, drelfie, a drunken selfie, and bookshelfie which is a selfie in front of your bookshelves. All linguistic good fun.
In 1922, at the University of Toronto, scientists went to a hospital ward with children who were comatose and dying from diabetic keto-acidosis. Imagine a room full of parents sitting at the bedside waiting for the inevitable death of their child.
On that day in 1921, Dr. Frederick Banting and his medical student, Charles Best, went from bed to bed and injected the dying children with their new purified extract – insulin. As they began to inject the last comatose child, the first child injected began to awaken. One by one, all of the children awoke from their diabetic comas. A room of death and gloom, became a place of joy and hope.
In 1947, the year I was born, television had been invented and was being used in some U.S. households that could be measured in the thousands. However, by the late 90’s, 98% of U.S. homes had at least one television that was one for more than 7 hours per day.
“Alan Street in his book Subversive Meals has shown how the Eucharist is a table that deliberately subverts the exclusionary table of the empire. ” From Gift and Task by Walter Brueggemann, page 373.
According to Brueggemann, the greedy leaders of the empire don’t look out for their “flock” but only for their own interest. We see that being played out in the face of a small child tearfully begging the “government” to give her back her parents because they didn’t do anything wrong.
Jesus, in quite opposite action, welcomed the alienated, poor, lost, and ill. He fed them, touched them, invited them, and loved them. The Eucharist restores the community taken by the empire.
Raging against false leaders, Zechariah wrote that “the dreamers tell false dreams and give empty consolation. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they suffer for lack of a shepherd.” Zechariah 10:2.
Seems like an image drawn from our front page today.
In the last blog post, “Enough is enough,” we talked about a charitable organization that annually sends millions of shoeboxes filled with trinkets, socks, and candy to Third World children with the claim that it was doing immeasurable good for the recipients.
In point of fact, it does far less good that it claims to do. The flood of boxes damages local, indigenous economies, and the American-made goods can be puzzling to their child recipients.