Friday, October 04, 2013

On the end of American Christendom

It is always interesting to me when big partisan political events happen here in America.  Not because of the political implications (which are, regardless, important), but the reactions of Christians.  The same people (and I'm not excluding myself) who a week before say, "God is love.  No sinner is outside of His grace, etc." will now say, "Obama/Republicans/Democrats/etc. are evil/idiotic/unworthy of political office, etc.".  There is a disconnect between our fake Jesus talk and what we really believe: God loves those who we think He should.  Anyone who battles against our own emotivist sub-worlds is obviously wrong.  We forget the complexities of these interminable debates, opting for simplistic rationales that vaunt our own supposed wisdom; we forget that these men and women (conservative or liberal) are just in as much of grace as we are, rather, according to St. Paul, we need more grace than they: "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost" (1 Tim. 1:15).  Lest we think that Paul is just talking about himself, the whole phrase has been used since the beginning as a liturgical phrase spoken by each individual before they received the Eucharist.

What is our response to the political hubbub of the day to be?  St. Paul also instructs us in this, in a myriad of places:

"Remind them [Christians] to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work [like, I don't know, tending the health of the poor, the widow, the orphan, the leper, the lame, the blind...whatever Obamacare may or may not be, it is surely a sign that the Church has abjected failed in her mission -- I'm not speaking of it merely as an "institution" here either: we have all failed and will have to answer for it, as Matthew 25 so starkly tells us], to speak evil of no one, to be gentle, to show perfect courtesy toward all people..." (Titus 3:1-2)


"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desire all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth..." (1 Tim. 2:1-4)

And so on.

What to do, then?  First of all, pray.  If you don't pray for your public leaders in your weekly public assembly, ask your pastor/elders/priests to do so.  If you already have these prayers in your liturgy, don't just breeze through them.  I love liturgical worship -- it gives me a grammar that I inherently lack: but I've been to enough of them where the prayers are intoned with no conviction.  When we are praying, we are invoking the name of God, Father, Son, and Spirit.  To pray flippantly is to "bear the Name in vain" as spoken of in the Ten Commandments.

Secondly, if you want change, you must first purify yourself.  What do you receive from the government?  Start providing it for yourself and your neighbors.  Is the health care regulation a concern to you?  Then start living a healthy, ascetic life.  Help your neighbors out of the slavery of too much food, too little food, eating disorders, junk food, loneliness, alienation from family, and so on.  If we were a healthier nation, by which I mean a neighborly nation, we wouldn't need federal health care -- these things would be taken care of at the lower levels of society.  But we don't know our neighbors, we don't pray for them, and so we die, poor, alone, and lost.

Is this a cure all?  No.  But it will go a long way and do a lot more good than complaining about the inherent problems of democracy.  Remember, God called you to love Him and your neighbor; He didn't call you to be a Republican, a Democrat, or an autonomous individualist.  The Enlightenment style of society we've inherited isn't the Gospel.  The love of Jesus Christ that calls us to put ourselves to death for the life of our neighbors, however, is.

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