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My memories of Hiroshima

I was barely 7 years old. I remember seeing bold newspaper headlines. I could not yet read them. But from my parent’s reactions, I knew something very important had happened. Atomic bombs had exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I only began to understand the enormity of these events as the years passed by. Three-quarters of a century later, I still have trouble imagining their explosive power.

In an instant, approximately one hundred thousand people died in Hiroshima. An untold number died more slowly over the years. Then there was Nagaski. The World Trade Center attack, as horrible as it was, pales in comparison.

Who could have imagined?

The size of the atom is hard to imagine. It has been estimated that 100,000,000 atoms would be about the width of a fingernail. Yet when atoms are either split or fused, so much power can be unleashed!

At the same time, who could have imagined that 75 years later, medical science would develop the use of radiation to constructively destroy cancerous cells. As a survivor of cancer via radiation therapy, I can expect to live many more years because of such therapy.

A more explosive power

Hiroshima may have been the first atomic blast. But there was another event more powerful … and just as capable of being used to harm or to heal.

Two thousand years ago, there was a spiritual explosion on Pentecost that still reverberates around the world!

Jesus spoke of the mustard seed which becomes a tree. He set in motion a movement that literally changed the world. The power of his message and example grew rapidly, spreading throughout the world.

Showing God’s love for each and every one of us changed history and the world. We even speak of BC and AD as the dividing point of history

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The Greek word for power was dunamis. (Ironically, Alfred Nobel named his invention “dynamite.”) So perhaps we should read… You shall receive explosive, dynamite power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”

The explosive events of Pentecost today shape the lives of 1/3 of the world’s population or almost 3 billion people.

The problem with Christianity

Despite the numbers, it is questionable how many really understand how radical and powerful it is to become aware of the love God has for each and every one of us. If we took the awareness of God’s love for each person seriously,  the world would be different.

The awareness of being loved is so mind-blowing that we want to alert everyone else to it. This awareness is much more than being able to pass an examination of ideas. It changes not only me and my world but how I live in the world.

In the last century, G.K. Chesteron, an amazing lay theologian, expressed the problem this way. “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”

Today there are powerful and competing ideas behind events.

One is the realization that we are, each one of us, sons and daughters of God and, therefore… brothers and sisters to one another. The other is that we are the center of the world in which we live. Everyone and everything is about me.

We are faced with a choice – once again unleashing Hiroshima or rejoicing and living in God’s kingdom.

Which will I commit myself to?

Click below for an early audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk.

A choice – Hiroshima… or the explosive power of love

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