Twenty-six short centuries ago a wise man was so distraught over conditions in his country, the violence, idolatry and discord that he railed against the supreme power; he demanded answers!
Why, he wanted to know, had the world become so evil? And, why had God allowed it to happen? Atheists, agnostics and non-believers may want to turn now to the entertainment pages where there is abundant information on the upcoming Halloween festivities, which was originally a religious observance for all souls; or you might turn to the sports pages, though for some people sports is a "religion."
The wise man was in fact a prophet named Habakkuk and he chastised God for allowing corruption, unjust laws, and evil rulers to ruin his country. In time he received an answer.
Many of us today may share the wise man's frustrations. In our world today there are random and premeditated acts of violence which have become all too frequent, too meaningless and much too painful. Reactions to curb violence have produced the same old answers and the same old failed result because they focus too narrowly, that of gun control while ignoring root causes.
Banning weapons centuries ago would have made it illegal to own a spear, a knife, sword or long-bow; still later it would have resulted in the banning of cannons, rifles, pistols and automatic weapons, for the law-abiding, but not for government or the lawless.
Even today, the supposedly civilized nations of the world ban nuclear and chemical weapons yet the number of countries owning or acquiring them grows. It seems that no matter what the weapon, everyone wants to own one for protection from those who already have the weapons.
History records that war and conflict have always been with us. The ancient Irish and European nations were frequently warring with their neighbors and that is true worldwide. The Crusades lasted for hundreds of years. It is said that religion has caused more death and destruction than any other reason.
Religion played a crucial part in the founding of America and protecting religion from the government was utmost in the minds of the founding fathers. It is interesting to note that in the Declaration of Independence a supreme being is mentioned four times but not at all in the Constitution or the Amendments.
Likely, this was our founding fathers' version of "there are no atheists in foxholes".
Habakkuk received his answer and was instructed to write it down. There would be great destruction of the wicked. He was reassured that the just people would be saved and that he should never forget that God would act in his own time and in his own way.
Twenty brief centuries ago, a very wise man had a lasting impact on mankind. He never owned more than the sandals on his feet and the robe on his back; his only writing with his finger in the sand yet his life and teachings inspired countless books and billions of people.
When he was asked which was the greatest commandment he replied that there are two; love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.
His teachings were about love and redemption; he was the worlds' greatest optimist, he gave mankind hope.
Like Habakkuk we can find reason to rail against God or can blame religion for causing wars while ignoring man's culpability.
A more useful act would be to look to and practice the greatest commandments.
Reynolds lives in Pleasant View.