On Switching Angels

Do not turn my heart to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with those who work iniquity;
do not let me eat of their delicacies. (Psalm 141)

My Lectio Devina this morning recalled for me last night's news coverage about the Oiler victory "celebrations" on Whyte avenue.

If you tuned in, you saw images of, well, common idiocy. You saw guys under the spell of the mob-angel, fueled by too much alcohol, do what comes natural under those conditions. You saw thousands of other people who would normally call down or report such vandalism, or at least leave the scene, which would dissipate the power of the mob-angel, instead stand by and cheer. An action that makes them as complicit as the trashers and maulers.

Actually in principle, this event is not unlike a civic, or political, or religious rally. When given the chance, the mob-angel–or the "irrational collective spirit"–operates the same way at every such gathering, in every venue. It uses a point of common identification, or invents one. It then produces a common enemy, or a fear, or a cause, or an appeal to nationalism or civic pride, in whatever form. Then, having laid the ground work it strikes the match–Der Fuhrer speaks or the Oilers win–and the thing explodes. The type and size of the explosion and the type and size of the mob-angel, is of course dependant upon the elements involved. Nuremberg is a long way from Whyte Ave., but the "giest" at work is of the same nature.

And what of our involvement? Our susceptibility of, and our contribution to the mob-angel depends on the strength and quality of our desires. It is because we don't know what we desire and because our desires are weak and often contradictory that we are susceptible to the social-dictates of the herd.

Our mothers always warned us of the corrupting influence of "bad company". But a warning is not really what we need. We need to reorient, deepen, and make simple, our desires. And the only way this happens is through imitation of one who loves us and has good desires for us.

Allow me a bit of a paraphrase. Do not be conformed to the desires of this world, but be transformed, by the renewing of your minds, in imitation of Christ, so that you may discern what is good and acceptable. (Romans 12)

Pardon the double negative but…we do not get to not serve something, however we usually do get to choose who and what we serve.

In imitation of Christ there is detoxification, allowing our desires to be redefined. Mind renewal allows us to switch angels; from having our actions scripted by the mob-angel to becoming willing captives of the Peace-angel.

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