Thoughts for Lent…

From Fr. Guy Winfrey:

I’ve been reading the history of the Church of Holland recently. What strikes me is that political strength (whether of William of Orange or Obama) usually tends to duplicity and tyrannical use of power. The only place for Christians to stand is firmly in the Faith with humility, but with courage and strength. We cannot be silent to evils, nor slow to respond in love to those who are in need. But we would be foolish if we thought that we shall overcome the world’s misuse of power (which usually masquerades as love). We are not to surrender our struggle against the evils of this world, but we are not to place our hope here for we are Christians, not political parties. We struggle for the Kingdom of God.

On the Media and Faith…

The role religion plays in America and the world has been a well-kept secret in most of the nation’s newsrooms. While reporters chase the latest stories in politics, sports, business, education and other subjects, the billions of dollars and hours Americans invest in religious activities receive minimal attention. Religion news is usually pushed into a tiny Saturday ghetto labeled “church news.”

When news events escape the church page they are often covered by reporters with little interest in religion and little education in the style and language of religious leaders and organizations. Religion has almost been ignored by radio and television. …

The major reason few American newspapers and radio and television stations cover religion is simple. Few of the people who decide what news is care about religion.

 

Read more here.

People May Argue…

about the spiritual lives of the people who wrote our nation’s foundational documents but there is one thing I believe they did understand. They understood that humans have a propensity for bad behavior and selfishness and people with power even more. So they built in deliberate inefficiencies into the government they envisioned, things like separation of powers, a limited vision of federal government, and checks and balances designed to make the process sometimes messy. They did this because they understood that messy and contentious government is still better than efficient government in the hands of one person. The whole idea is that one person or group doesn’t always get everything their way. People may not like this, they sure will yell about it, but they are free to yell and that’s the point.

A Little Post Election Help…

How to remove bumper stickers from your car. Because nothing says “I need a life” more than last year’s election stickers on your car. If your car is actually held together by bumper stickers you can ignore these helpful hints.

You're not invited to the party…

not the Republican, the Democrat, Libertarian, Communist, or any of them. None of them will completely capture the fullness of Christianity.

You see, if you choose to be an observant Christian, you are, in fact, a kind of monarchist. Now it’s not the monarchy of say the British royals with all the uniforms, fancy cars, and shopping mall openings. That, like all the other pomp and circumstances that come with the kingdoms of this world, is just that, a spectacle for the sake of power, a pseudo liturgy for the kingdoms of this world.

No, you’ve chosen to ally yourself with Jesus, to make him a king not like the world makes kings but rather for the sake of love. He invites you to belong to a Kingdom, to be citizens, not simply of a nation that may or may not be here with the tides of history, but of eternity where the things we humans seek are found not with endless bureaucracies but simply in His presence.

This Kingdom, for the observant Christian, becomes, out of love, the first loyalty, the true nation, and the ultimate destination of the world. It’s precepts live within us in this world but come from beyond it and stand in critique of every other human attempt to organize ourselves, even those which are seen as just.

That doesn’t mean we don’t “taint” ourselves with the affairs of this world or absent ourselves from its workings. What we have to offer as followers of Christ is valuable for the common good and often is the only sanity in the crazy swirl of things. We give allegiances, honor human authority, and seek the best for the places in which we find ourselves along our journey.

Yet it’s not ultimate loyalty, not ultimate involvement. No country, no politician, no political party, owns our soul. None deserves our ultimate allegiance. We can and should be good citizens but we know that we belong to something more, a Kingdom where the humble and often maligned Christ already rules, a Kingdom that is destined to be the ultimate reality of the universe as we know it.

It’s that Kingdom which comes first, last and always, and everything less, no matter how good it can be, is still just that, less.

In One Sense…

President Obama was correct in his “You didn’t build that…” comments. If you read around the sound bite for context you’ll discover that he was talking about all the larger things that make individual success possible. There’s truth there.

Individuals have ideas. Individuals have plans. Individuals have dreams. Individuals take risks. Yet all of that is surrounded by all kinds of resources, people, infrastructure, and community that allow those individual things to flourish. You may be the founder and boss but you need others, employees, buyers, sellers, water pipes, roads, phone lines, a lot of things to make what you envisioned happen.

I think the rich and powerful often forget this. No one is self made, one way or another we need each others. One way or another we have some kind of responsibility to each other. There is a common good and not simply a collection of individual goods that have somehow agreed to live with each other.

Yet, at the same time, I don’t think its the state’s task to enforce that understanding, to pick winners and losers and artificially create identical outcomes. When the state does this some people feel entitled and others become resentful. Everyone sees their success in terms of power, of manipulating the state to their advantage, of making the system work for them and excluding others.

What’s really needed is something beyond politics, something much more difficult. What’s needed is a moral and spiritual sea change and frankly we’ve got our work cut out for us. Those who have need to understand the reality behind what they have acquired and understand that much is required from those to whom much has been given. Their hearts need to be warmed to the common good, to the least of these, and the reality that everything is actually on temporary loan from the Giver and there will be an accounting. Those who have less need to be given more to industry, to supporting each other in good habits and life that make for betterment and less to envy and anger.

Yet we do have our work cut out for us because the Christian impulse that would call the rich to philanthrophy and the poor to industry has nearly disappeared.  We increasingly ask the government to do what we should be doing. We ask our leaders to make the changes we need to make. We’re always one election away from our utopia even as we fail to understand that the world is always going to be the product, for good or ill, of its inhabitants. While our eyes are glued to the television the solution is in our mirror.

Until we get this, and act on it, everything will remain the same and the same means going nowhere.

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