I’m disappointed with America right now, what we’ve become, the lengths it seems we’ve fallen from the good and how what is happening with us affects the larger world. Our freedom is becoming more and more about license and entitlement, our wealth is less about charity and more about hoarding, and our technology is slowly changing from servant to master. Our chief exports seem to be war and moral decay. Our chief imports are whatever toys we can get the poor and oppressed of the world to make for us at a price point to occupy us while our hearts empty and the world around us burns.
Trump and Clinton, we like to point out their mistakes, their scandals, their moral challenges, but they are us and we are them. They are a mirror for all of us and yet we don’t seem to understand that the person we see as we look is actually ourselves. We’ve got some rough years ahead and we may never remember to pull the chute as we free fall because we’re so busy looking at our phones on the way down.
The sadder part is that while this has been happening the church has often been the chaplain for the whole process of decay. Many churches are deeply compromised and, in fact, have become places where there is a veneer of Christian ritual covering a substance that is deeply and profoundly disconnected from the actual content of the Faith itself. Where there is a substance of Faith there is often a mass complacency to the real nature of the times, a denial of what is really happening around us and a bunker mentality that increasingly isolates us from the people who need us most, the lost, the confused, the massive numbers of people who are victims of these times.
Someone, and I forgot who it was said “Americans will do the right thing, after they’ve done everything else.” I think there is some truth to this. Perhaps, in time, the pain we’ve brought on ourselves from our continuing experiments in selfishness and decadence will finally get to be so high that some of us will start to think the unthinkable, the possibility that we were wrong when we thought that getting rid of the standards tested in time and the crucible of real world experience, the traditions if you will, was a bad idea. Already the cracks in our new world order are beginning to show and eventually even massive doses of TV and weed will not be able to medicate the pain.
Until that time we in the church need to strive as best as we broken people can to live the gift we’ve been given and share it at every opportunity. The times call for courageous, loving, and transparent people to stand for something that is very unpopular right now, the idea that there are things in the human experience that transcend the individual, things larger and more true than any emotion, purchase, urge, or perceived need. Your culture will find ways, at the present, to punish you for this because you will be, wherever you are, the child that reminds the emperors of this world that they really don’t have any clothes. Your mere presence will be an irritant to those who plan on making fortunes for themselves while the culture goes bankrupt, forgetting of course that the bankrupt culture will eventually make paupers of them as well. The way you live your life will be an affront to people who believe that power over others is the way to their utopia by eliminating the dissent that reminds them of their own emptiness.
So, there is hope but it will be hope realized in long term, peaceful, and activist struggle. The struggle of those who are looking for sanity to achieve it for themselves and then the struggle to change the world around them by sharing that sanity one person at a time until it prevails. Those who choose to take on the struggle will need to understand that for years they may have to be on the outside looking in as they make the deliberate choice to live as exiles in their own land until the day its soul destroying tendencies can be healed. For the churches that remain faithful there will have to be an almost entire change of vision, a reorientation towards the understanding that this America is already a pagan land, as it were, and that, far from being acceptable and normal in these times, we are a community often at radical dissonance with the world around us, a revolutionary body who have been called to be salt and light in ways that will make us uncomfortable as we are torn from our isolation and complacency. In the end only the churches that have refused to baptize the brokenness of this culture will have any meaning, substance, or even existence and we have to daily make a choice what kind of church we will be.
I’m disappointed in America right now. While in the larger and eternal scheme of things nations don’t matter because they’re temporary entities subject to change they can, in any one moment of time, be part of the larger human good. Right now this America I live in is often not. The only remedy I can see is to be fully a citizen of my actual and permanent country, the observant Christian will understand what I am saying, and that by doing so transform my temporary one.
Long live the revolution!