Saturday, December 04, 2010


SOURCE: Mouw, Richard.  The Smell of Sawdust.  Zondervan Publishing House:  Grand Rapids, Michigan. 2000. P9

In an essay published over a half-century ago, German philosopher Martin Heidegger predicted that “homelessness is coming to be the destiny of the world [Letter on Humanism].  Heidegger wasn’t thinking so much of the literal homelessness we see so much of in our cities today.  Rather, he was prophesying about a growing sense of aimlessness in human life—the loss of a sense of belonging that is so much a part of what is referred to these days as the ‘postmodern’ experience.

Heidegger’s prophecy was an accurate one.  And we can hear strong voices today actually praising this experience of homelessness.  A well-known psychologist wrote a book a while back in which he argued that the best way to help folks who are living aimless lives is to provide them with the coping skills necessary for the exciting journey of an “endless wandering in the maze of meaning” [Gergen, The Saturated Self].  He summarized his approach by quoting a phrase coined by another scholar:  mazing grace.  Those of us who can still smell the sawdust refuse to drop the letter “a” from this phrase.  To be sure, we also know what it is like to wander.  Our own lives have taken us “through many dangers, toils, and snares.”  But our pilgrimages are not aimless ones:  “Tis grace hath brought [us] safe thus far, and grace will lead [us] home.”  We have found the path that leads us to a place of eternal safety.

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