An Egotistical Cabaña Boy

From the Daily Office Lectionary for Tuesday in the week of Proper 17, Year 1 (Pentecost 14, 2015)

Psalm 36:1 ~ There is a voice of rebellion deep in the heart of the wicked; there is no fear of God before his eyes.

Earlier this week I listend to Krista Tippett on NPR interview Grace Lee Boggs. At the beginning of the interview, philosopher Boggs opined: “What is the difference between a revolution and a rebellion? … A rebellion is mainly an explosion of anger and revolution is a tremendous leap forward, a tremendous evolution in consciousness and responsibility, a new way of thinking.” I’m not, by any stretch, anywhere near as versed in philosophy as Dr. Boggs and I am loath to contradict so venerable a sage, but I think she’s wrong.

I don’t believe a rebellion is “an explosion of anger.” That, I think, would be a riot or a revolt. There may be a component of anger in rebellion, but I would posit that rebellion is an explosion of ego, even when rebellion involves a large group.

I suggest the Psalmist is wrong, too, though not in what he says. The Psalmist is wrong in what he implies, in the suggestion that the “voice of rebellion” is found only in the hearts of the wicked. I believe there is a “voice of rebellion” in the heart of every human being. The wicked give in to that voice; the righteous listen to another.

St. Augustine of Hippo wrote in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” In his Pensées, Blaise Pascal offered, “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?” This emptiness Pascal called an “infinite abyss [which] can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”

But human beings try to fill that “God-shaped hole,” as some have called it, with other things. Standing next to that hole “deep in the heart” of humankind is the ego, waiting like a cabaña boy to dive into the pool at a trendy upscale spa. The dive . . . that’s rebellion calling with its siren song to the cabaña boy of the human soul; the wicked answer that call and take the dive putting themselves, their egos, in the place of God.

Rebellion is not “an explosion of anger.” It’s the dive of an egotistical cabaña boy!