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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

17 June 2020: Ben Cornell, HopeChurch

Normality is not Normal

It has occurred to me during this pandemic, as the tree of life is shaken, how much I fear falling out of it. I don’t really fear a serious bout of the illness, but rather the loss of normality, which leads me to fear the collapse of human civilisation. This is emotive rather than rational, but a very real, back-of-the-mind fear. I realise how much I cling to normality. Normality makes me feel safe. It guards me from the rawness of my true state of being – as an utterly powerless, vulnerable creature, in a world of danger and death, only ever a few steps from chaos and anarchy, and knowing that one day bad news is coming for me like a raging bull.

Normality is a façade we construct so we can talk about golf, dancing programs, baking and sales forecasts. It is such a plausible façade that talk of the real rawness of mortal life gets elbowed to the fringe and effectively disallowed. There is an unspoken rule of civilization that we talk about the weather and ignore the elephant in the room.

As a Christian I am forced to ask if normality itself is an idol? – a God substitute, something in which I find security, strength, comfort - things I ought to seek in God alone. I think it is. I wish that were not so, because the stripping away of it ain’t pretty. Is God showing us through this great shaking, the imperceptible idol that keeps us from fully throwing ourselves into his hands?

Normality is the wrong place to find safety, because it can be stripped away in a moment, without warning. God is where our safety should be found, because God cannot be stripped away. If only trusting him weren’t so raw and frightening!

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