Ring Out The Old

No American in his or her right mind would walk into this new year without some trepidation. Election years are alwasy raucous, not to mention tenuous; but 2012 promises to out-do even some of the best of them.

Christendom is dead. May it ever and always remain so. Few things have burdened me more over my many years than the tendency, up until fairly recently, of some of my fellow Christians to claim one political position or another as the absolute will of God. The one thing worse than that was the assertion that, in their speking, they were the true reflection of what “Christian” and “Christianity” are. Not only has that position always been offered at the exclusion of some of the rest of us who don’t agree, but it also–and this has consistently been the most painful part for me–it also takes my label and applies it in such a willy-nilly way as to make speaking for the faith ten times more difficult and a hundred times less likely to be effective.

All of that doesn’t mean, of course, that I naively think the Church and/or the Christian should exercise no influence on the conduct of politics. It means rather that, for me at least, it is the prayerful and humbled Christian who best serves the conjunction of Kingdom and State. So, to that end, some of my favorite words as a greeting here. Antique as they may be–and Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote them in 1850–they still best capture the whole New Year thing for me, and especially in this year if Our Lord 2012:

Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go;

Ring out false, ring in true.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,

And ancient forms of party strife;

Ring in the nobler modes of life,

With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the shapes of foul disease,

Ring out the narowing lust of gold;

Ring out the thousand wars of old,

Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,

The larger heart, the kindlier hand;

Ring out the darkness of the land,

Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Amen, Amen.

Phyllis Tickle

About Phyllis Tickle

Phyllis Tickle , founding editor of the Religion Department of Publishers Weekly, the international journal of the book industry, is frequently quoted in print sources, electronic media, and innumerable blogs and web sites. Tickle is an authority on religion in America and a much sought after lecturer on the subject.

  • Theophile

    Hi Phyllis,
    I first noticed this “tendency to claim one political position or another as the absolute will of God.” about 20 years back when America enforced king Georges “new world order” UN resolution 666 and the following 12 disciples, oopps I meant resolutions, by bombing Iraq into compliance with said resolutions. When pointing out the “tear down this wall” speech was a response to the UN’s reuniting Germany, not a command of king Ronnie, and that same UN decision reunited Iraq with it’s coastline/port, the stock response was “were #1, support our troops”. Looking back with 20/20 year hindsight, what did we accomplish by enforcing UNSCR 666?: Religious cleansing of Christian Iraqis?


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