Updated: May 7, 2020
It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
The 1963 film by that name laughs at the comic absurdity of it. But nobody is laughing when a Family Dollar security guard is shot dead after an altercation over wearing a state-mandated face mask. Nobody laughs (or should laugh) when a park ranger is pushed into a lake while asking people to practice social distancing. Or when armed protesters storm a state capitol, threatening government officials with lynching.
Nobody is laughing about skyrocketing liquor sales, or about pornography websites offering free memberships during quarantine, or about domestic abuse rates being up by as much as 400%. Nobody is laughing about estranged relationships, suicide, abortion, hungry schoolkids, and spiking fascination with witchcraft.
As much as many people are aching to get “back to normal,” what is that normal like? For many (too often including me), it’s an unsustainable madness, pushed to the brink of any remaining margins, where bandwidth to think, pray, and be present to God and others is in jeopardy every day. As Dallas Willard once said, you can’t love well when you’re in a hurry.
It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world. We can all, obviously, add many things to the list. And we can all name ways in which we participate in it, and even perpetuate it.
We shouldn’t be surprised. My colleague Andrew reflected last weekend about the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5, Luke 8). Here is a portrait with some real explanatory power. The man is crazed with a legion of demons. His interior life mirrors the madness of the world under the sway of the Enemy. (There’s so much more to say here…) Let’s not ever call it normal.
But after his (terrifying) encounter with Jesus (I find it so impressive that Jesus doesn’t run the other way), the man was found “sitting there, dressed, and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15).
I just deleted many paragraphs of attempted explanation of that scene. But I think it’s enough to just meditate on the scene itself and to ask Jesus to speak it into our lives. May we, and the part of the world Jesus puts us in today, be found sitting there, dressed, and in our right mind.