Programmed to become weaker…

“The greatness of humanity is that we are programmed to grow, and we are programmed to become weaker.”

One of the first major theological papers I had to write in seminary was on creation. In that paper I took the position that all of creation – including the lives of people – was to the greater glory of God. Free will was a necessary component of that – for in being able to not worship God, the act of worship becomes that much more significant when we do make that choice. Similarly, the relationship we choose to have with God is more important when that relationship is voluntary and not a programmed requirement. I was all down with the lack of programming in humanity by God.

The first time I heard Jean Vanier say this, I was a bit disturbed. It seemed to me that the process of being programmed countered this understanding of Doxologizing voluntarily. But as I thought about it more, I saw it as God providing opportunity to engage in this thing that we are made for in a new way – by entering in relationship with each other, by acknowledging our limits, by being challenged to look at our own lack of agency and power – to look beyond it – and perhaps see God in a new way, or see the God in fellow person in a new way. It is not a program that robs us of free will, it is one that allows us to engage the Glory of Creation because of our very finitude.


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