Partisanship vs. Pentecost

The readings yesterday illustrate dramatically the contrast between the mind of the flesh and the mind of Christ.  The first reading, of course, is about Babel and the confusion of tongues after the children of Ham tried to “make a name” for themselves.  There is a subtext here that is usually lost on the modern reader, namely that nearly alone in the entire Old Testament, the birthright blessing goes to an oldest son in the account of Noah.  That son is Shem and the brother who winds up getting cursed (after revealing Noah’s nakedness) is… you guessed it, Ham.

So here’s the thing: “Shem” means “Name”.  So when the sons of Ham set about to build Babel, the subtext is that by doing this mighty work of arrogance, they will somehow manage to lay claim to the birthright Shem has received.  It’s a story we hear again and again in the struggles between Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, and the struggles for the throne of David.  The confusion of tongues is the judgment against the arrogance of Babel and confusion remains the pattern of judgment the arrogant bring down on their heads throughout Scripture. Make a grab for worldly power in the face of the Almighty and you stand a good chance of having life dissolve in chaos.

Okay, so when we get to the reading from Acts, of course, what we find is that the curse of Babel is undone by the gift of the Spirit of Pentecost.  Luke notes the irony by mentioning that the Jews visiting Jerusalem were “confused” by the event and by the strange spectacle of hearing the gospel proclaimed in their own languages.  But instead of it resulting in chaos, it results in unity-in-diversity.  Luke does a little “sacred geography” by listing off the foreigners visiting Jerusalem from east to west, ending in Rome.  By so doing, he makes a subtle reference to the prophetic word of Malachi 1:11: “My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.”  And so, Luke’s book will take us, in the end, to Rome.

Now with this vision of unity in diversity, Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 12 of the body of Christ, with each member have different gift, yet all coming from the one Spirit and working together for the common good.  This is the basic Catholic vision of the social order.  The strong exist to protect the weak, the chosen are chosen for the sake of the unchosen.  Each have gifts and each gift is for the sake of those who do not have that gift.

Now compare that vision of things with what is commonly called “liberalism”.  Of course, liberals know how mean, selfish and evil conservatives are and how little they care for the common good.  So it’s only natural that they should come up with this exculpatory graphic

Compare this with the gospel vision described above.  It illustrates everything that is most repulsive about the Left’s Pharisaic self-congratulation and remoteness from the gospel by this attempt to cover up the IRS’ bullying.

Some will argue that the charges preferred against the Tea Parties here are false.  That’s not relevant.  True or not, at the end of the day, the Tea Parties are entitled to free speech whether Lefties like it or not. It’s not up the to IRS to decide who needs to be punished for Incorrect Views. “They had it coming” is a massively stupid thing for any American of any persuasion to embrace, because the next time it will be the creators of this graphic and their fellow ideologues who are being punished for Ungoodthink by some administration that has designated them the enemy.

Dudes, when the IRS is asking for the freaking *content of people’s prayers* they are way the hell out of line. So stop making excuses for it simply because it’s being done to somebody you dislike. Snobbily trying to shift the focus from the perps to the victims by saying, in effect, “Ew!  *Those* kind of people are complaining, so it’s no problem” is just begging to make the IRS a permanent protection racket used by the Imperial Presidency to punish political enemies.  And you’ll be next as soon as your tribe is out of power.

What that graphic boils down to is a celebration of seizing the One Ring.  It’s as far from loving the common good as you can get.  I’ll take Pentecost over this kind of partisanship any day.

  • Barfly_Kokhba

    We’re living in a modern Tower of Babel. Partisans of various political factions no longer speak the same language, even though they use the same words and phonemes. Words like “freedom,” “love,” “terrorism,” “hate,” “good,” and “evil” no longer have an accepted meaning in our common culture. They mean only what the person speaking them at any given time feels like they should mean. So, regarding the function which language is supposed to serve in human society, they have lost all meaning whatsoever. And these are important words we’re talking about.

    Our language is quite confused. I wonder what the future holds for our technocracy, our Tower to the Heavens.

    • Bill

      Don’t forget patriotic and tolerance

      • said she

        and truth

  • ivan_the_mad

    “each member have different gift, yet all coming from the one Spirit and working together for the common good”

    Just a few days ago, I finished reading Day’s autobiography, The Long Loneliness. I was motivated to read about this Servant of God after the brouhaha some months back in which she was impugned by right-wing ideologues as a Marxist etc (baseless and preposterous). What a marvelous woman, dedicated so tremendously to this teaching and exemplifying it so humbly, so in love with the Church!

    Dale Ahlquist has a timely piece involving monks and a Catholic Worker house: http://distributistreview.com/mag/2013/05/the-gospel-of-hospitality

    And how vivifying and joyful it is to read Chesterton, and then to read in their own words of his effect on figures as diverse in gifts as Dorothy Day and Russell Kirk. Truly, the Spirit remains with us, and there are many gifts from the same Spirit!

  • Alexander S Anderson

    Oh, come *on*, Mark! What’s this about the government picking on lefties? Don’t you know that the lefties are on the side of goodness and light, so the government will never touch them? You’re so unrealistic, Mr. Shea.


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