In my work as chaplain at the hospital I am finding it much easier to hold the hope for those I meet who are honest about themselves and the choices they've made. How do we speak of forgivnesss or of hope when someone is unwilling to admit their part in life? I know this is dangerous ground and that I am sounding a bit like I;m blamin gthe victim, but I am having difficulty locating the hope in people who feel they are only and totally victims. I love finding redemption in others. I feel like they are participating in God's grace. I had a nasty little drug and alcohol problem for years and have been clean and sober for 14 1/2 years and so know about God's grace first hand. In my religious tradition (Lutheranism) we very much stress that God's grace is a gift freely given and that there is nothing we can do to earn it, we simply live our lives in response to the gift. In a nut shell, this is our theology of grace and I love it and know it to be true. The only reason I am sober is as a result of God's grace. However, I was willing to do a "searching and fearless moral inventory" of myself without which I couldn't have stayed clean. I have seen countless people who are not willing or able to be honest about themselves and their shit and they are basically screwed until then can. I guess I'm questioning what agency we have in God's grace?? Is it by the grace of God that I became willing to be honest about myself? Or did I have to become willing on my own in order to place myself in the position of recieving God's grace? The former feel arbitrary but the later feels a bit more realistic, but dangerously close to sounding like "earning" God's grace. My friend Hal wrote an interesting essay called "Theological Reflections on Ambiguity" in which he claims that human history (including the events of our own lives) is a result of social forces out of our controll, our own choices and God. This triad creates every event, but with each element always having differing effect. If God was the only one acting, then (looking at human history) I would have to question God's sanity, if society was the on ly factor then how could I ever take responsibility for my actions and how would I account for the grace and wonder in life? If it was only me then how would I ever be able to get out of bed in the morning?