One of the biggest consequences of Christianity in my post-Christian life has been the idea of providence. It’s a nice word; I actually like it quite a bit. As far as English appreciation, its got a pleasant sound and elegance. And the concept of care and guidance over the earth is a comforting idea: everything is as it should be. God’s in his heaven, all’s right in the world. It is well with my soul. That sort of thing.

At its best, being resigned to providence or fate can give comfort, and not just in some vague sense of “God’s will be done.” It’s not much more than the idea that one has done all she could and the rest is up to things outside her control. Perfectly natural way to look at things.

I’m not really sure what the idea of providence could do at its worse. Perhaps it can lead to a laziness and depression, but I imagine it would have to be coupled with the complete denial of free will.

For myself, I have often thought, “Well, it’s just not God’s will that this happen right now.” I think it has covered up my laziness, though. I am not as willing as I should be to do hard work to achieve a goal that is not coming very easily. The main example I can think of is my art. I am sure that I have talent and I should pursue my art. But any number of excuses have come between me and that goal. Sometimes things do just happen outside my control, and its best to be resigned to those events to some extent. But I have done far too little to achieve what I want, and far too quick to say “it’s not God’s timing.” I have a feeling that this is not so much a weakness of the Christian faith in general as it is a personal weakness and willingness to use a noble idea for selfish and self-crippling reasons.

It is, after all, well-known that religion is just as easy to exploit for evil as anything else. Unfortunate, really. You’d think there’d be something impervious to evil. But I guess that’s where the idea of God (well, some gods) came from in the first place. There must be something all mighty, all holy, all good, right guys? Well, there’s got to be. So let’s worship it just in case it gets mad at us for being evil.

Ah…. religion.


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