Thank God for good people.
Don’t be alarmed by defecting Christians.
It’s just the Holy Spirit, pruning the dead wood.
Christianity in America suffers from a blight that is choking out the Word and covering up the Light of Christ.
That blight is the heresy of conflating Christ the Lord with partisan politics. This has gone on so long and become so endemic that a lot of people actually think that they are following Christ by how they register to vote.
Even worse, people who confuse Jesus with the R and the D always seem to end up lopping off parts of Jesus in order to make Him fit into the partisan box. If you’re an R, this has historically meant that the Sermon on the Mount is just jesus (little j) blather that comes from the First Century and doesn’t mean much. I’ve had the experience of using the phrase “If you’ve done it to the least of these, if you’ve done it to Me,” in debate and seeing the bored, patronizing expressions cross those Republican faces.
They don’t want to hear it.
Likewise, anyone who has ever gone into a Democratic Party what-not with the idea that gay marriage or abortion or any trendy social sin is not a “human right” is going to learn what the word “cut” means in the Victorian sense. They will cut you dead. And that’s if they’re in a good mood.
My point, which I’ve made over and over again, and which I’ll keep on making until it’s no longer pertinent, is that the R and the D aren’t Jesus. Party platforms aren’t the Gospels.
We are now living with the inevitable consequences of this decades-long heresy of political jesus. People are increasingly sick and tired of the heresy. They find — quite rightly — that it is a sham and a flam and that partisan politics jesus is a bogus god not worth their time.
Many outspoken Christian leaders have maintained so loudly and for so long that this perversion of the Gospels that they’ve been preaching is, in fact, the true Gospels of Christ, that they’ve managed to convince not only their besotted followers, but the larger population, as well.
A lot of people believe that political jesus; political party apologist jesus, mean and heartless django jesus, is actually Our Lord.
Why do they think this?
Because Christian religious leaders and their followers have been telling them so for decades.
This group of disenchanted, disaffected-with-Christianity reactors to political django jesus, has grown to the point that they are now able to affect the outcome of national elections. Which means that they are now players.
That also means that the same political parties who’ve used and abused the name of Christ for so long are now trying to get shed of Him. The stampede for the exit ramps among politicians and professional Christians of every stripe has become such a crowded field that it is a parody of itself.
The National Review published a whimsical essay today titled “A Form Letter for Defecting Conservatives.” This humorous article is an accurate representation of what is happening and the flabby, flimsy lies these runners are using to explain themselves.
What interested me the most, however, is that the National Review’s title underscores the heresy I’m talking about. The “issues” these running rabbits are dumping are the same issues that traditional Christians have fought for these past decades. They are the issues that put the Rs in the winner’s circle. Hence, the use of the word “conservative” to describe these folks.
However, what they are, are sham Christians who’ve used a faked fealty to Christ to win elections or build big careers in publishing, think-tanking or some other moneyed and powered endeavor. As anyone who isn’t wearing a mental blindfold can tell just by looking around, they haven’t done much good. But they have certainly done well.
The reason they are hitting the door on these “issues” now is because they never believed them in the first place. I’m not saying that people can’t experience a change of heart, that they can’t be converted. But this mass stampede of political opportunists for the higher ground of a different take on traditional Christian teaching has nothing to do with conversion. It is pragmatic people being pragmatic and taking care of themselves.
They never believed it in the first place, and whatever they tell you now, they don’t believe that, either.
The heresy here is that none of this — none of it — has anything to do with Jesus. By conflating politics with the Gospels, we have corrupted politics and defamed the Gospels. These aren’t “defecting conservatives. ” The reason they aren’t is that issues like the sanctity of human life and marriage are not issues. They are truths. The sanctity of human life and marriage are not “conservative” values. “If you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to Me,” is not liberal spin.
These are the law and the prophets of God Almighty. They are the teachings of Christ the Lord.
We are beginning to reap the whirlwind that we have sown by lying about the nature of God for political gain.
My advice is don’t be alarmed or dismayed by all these recanting Christians and born-again nihilists.
Let them go their way and don’t worry.
The Holy Spirit is pruning the tree of life so that it can bloom anew.
Here, from Monty Python, is an anthem for the runners.
The cheap grace of following the world in Jesus’ name is not grace at all. It is a lie we tell ourselves to keep from having to “chose this day whom” we “will serve.”
Sadly, it is also a delusion. Trendy jesus, pragmatic jesus and all the other false messiahs these theological snake-oil salesmen are selling having nothing to do with the real Jesus Christ Who was crucified on Calvary and calls each succeeding generation of Christians to “pick up your cross and follow Me.”
Following the real Jesus exacts a price. As the Light is smothered by the ever-encroaching darkness of humanity’s fealty to its own passions rather than the living God, the price for those who do not accede to the darkness goes up exponentially.
We may be willing to be friends with those who serve other gods, but they will not be friends with us. We may find our careers truncated, our friendships forfeit, our lives troubled in many ways when we follow Christ. He told us this would happen. If the world hates you, remember that it first hated me, He said.
The anger directed at us is just a side-blow, a glancing near miss of the object of the real hatred, which is satan’s hatred for the Savior of Humankind. Those who attack people for following Christ, even if they only do it with rudeness and exclusion, are the unwitting pawns of this evil.
Our task is always to be the witting servants of the good. God has no use and no desire for “unwitting pawns.” We can blunder into following satan, but we always chose to follow Christ.
Life in Christ is an intentional, moment by moment, living out of the faith. It can only be done through grace, and that grace does not come from us. There is no intelligence, courage or intuition we possess in and of ourselves that can equip us for following Jesus in a post Christian world.
The capacity to follow Him is a free gift of divine grace. He equips us to run the race that is before us if we ask Him daily and trust Him constantly. When we fail, all we have to do is reach out to Him and ask for forgiveness. That’s all there is to life in Christ: Just say “yes” to Him, and keep saying “yes” as each new challenge arises.
This is the Living Lord Who stood before Pilate, endured the blows and humiliations, hung from the cross and died. He understands everything He is asking of us because He has already endured all of it and far worse for us. He can help us on the Way as someone who has walked it Himself.
It began with a young man who decided that the American people had the right to know that their government had them under surveillance.
Not, mind you, that the government had possible criminals under court-ordered surveillance by virtue of having produced evidence of probable cause. Our government has been sweeping all of our emails and cell phone convos into a big database and sifting through it looking for crimes, potential crimes, or anything it deems “suspicious.”
In the brave new world of Fourth-Amendment?-What-Fourth-Amendment?-Patriot-Act-land, we’re all potential criminals and we’re all under government surveillance.
The amount of data that our government has swept into its intelligence gathering maw has become so vast (remember these are electronic 1 and 0s, not piles of space-consuming paper) that the NSA is building a gi-normous file cabinet in the Utah desert to warehouse it all.
The minute that this young man stepped up and made this information available to the general public, the government smear machine and its trusty operatives in the press (perhaps I should say, it’s trusty operative, the press) swung into action, claiming and proclaiming that this young man, Edward Snowden is his name, was the worst American traitor since Benedict Arnold.
Shortly after giving this interview:
Michael Hastings died in a car crash,
The public was interested in Mr Hastings’ too convenient death until the same press that pushes the government line on us distracted the public with a trial about a shooting in Florida. This trial so transfixed the public that it completely forgot that Uncle Sam was watching its every move.
Unfortunately for the government, Mr Snowden decided to run rather than take his chances in a kangaroo court.
The president of the United States brought out all his big bully artillery and fired it off at every nation that might give Mr Snowden sanctuary. He huffed and he puffed and one by one the various nations put up the No Vacancy sign in front of Mr Snowden.
Russia finally took the wandering whistle-blower in, and President Obama promptly cancelled a scheduled G4 Summit talk with President Putin. I don’t know if President Putin cried himself to sleep that night or not. But I do know that the world is balanced on a razor’s edge. It might be nice if these two guys talked things over, even if President Putin is sheltering that dreadnought Snowden.
But then, that would presume that somebody involved in the government end of this mess actually cared about this country. It seems safe to say that they only care about covering their own backsides.
Meanwhile, our ally, the United Kingdom, decided to get into the act. Rather than huff and puff, they picked up their guns and clubs and went a-huntin’ and a-smashin’ in the offices of the British publication, The Guardian.
The Guardian had actually had the temerity to behave like a — I know this is hard to believe — member of the free press, and report Mr Snowden’s revelations about the work our governments were doing to put all of us on both sides of the Atlantic in the surveillance crosshairs.
The Brits, who are not troubled by niceties like First and Fourth Amendments, evidently took advantage of their government’s relative freedom to oppress its citizens and barged into The Guardian’s offices like Elliott Ness raiding a gin mill. They smashed computers and generally, as we say in these parts, tore up jack.
Of course, these tyrannical nitwits forgot (as tyrannical nitwits often do) the very essence of what they were dealing with. Evidently, nobody told them about backups.
I doubt that The Guardian lost a lot of data in this raid. But the British people lost a tremendous amount of freedom.
The question on this side of the Atlantic, not to even try to put it nicely, is did members of our government use the computer in Michael Hastings car to murder him because he was a danger to their careers?
It’s not even a question on the other side of the Atlantic. The answer is yes, the UK is in the bag for Obama and his spying on the populace of this country and probably theirs, as well. They don’t need a whistle blower to come forward and release evidence that their government has become a danger to the freedom of its citizens.
They went over to The Guardian’s offices and demonstrated that fact for all the world to see.
What is happening here?
Are we going to sit around and watch trashy televised trials and allow ourselves to be flim-flammed out of all our freedoms? Does anybody see how outrageous it is that the government has the entire American populace under surveillance?
He’s got the whole world in his files.
That means you.
What happened in Britain isn’t a fluke. It’s a harbinger.
There seems to be a dedicated group of abortion advocates who don’t care about human life, except, perhaps, their own.
I am not saying that everyone who thinks abortion should be legal falls into this category. But I have no other way to characterize people who would oppose the requirement that babies who survive an abortion be given medical care.
What am I supposed to say about these people?
One of Public Catholic’s readers went all apoplectic over Obama’s Lowest Moment in the 2008 Campaign. He denounced Infant Born Alive Acts as “garbage” and “thinly-veiled” attempts “to encroach on Roe v Wade.” Then, I guess to add what he thought was the cherry on top this little statement, sputtered at me to get out of the Democratic Party.
Not only is he confused about the Democratic Party — (It’s not an invitation-only private club run just for him.) — but his grip on what the Infant Born Alive Acts are about is tenuous, as well.
The video below is a sweet reminder of what Infant Born Alive Acts are addressing: The human lives of real human beings.
Whenever political ambitions cut across Christian beliefs, the result is predictable.
It’s like watching one of those flickering silent movies of yesteryear as the train roars up on Little Nell who lies tied to the tracks. You just know that Little Nell is going to get out of the ropes and off the tracks before the train arrives, but it’s soooo fun watching her kick and mouth silent pleas for help as she awaits her rescuing hero.
When politicians get bit by the big-time bug, sincere Christian beliefs are kind of like Little Nell’s ropes, tying them down. Big-time national politics and sincere beliefs don’t mix. If you doubt that, consider what we’ve been electing these past few decades.
Once a politician feels the frisson White House Ambition running down his or her spine, all basic Christian beliefs become unnecessary ballast that may — probably will — need a heave-ho.
Some politicians handle this with a deft, even stylish touch. Some of them are stone, cold liars. Others flub their lines at first. It takes a while for them to get the hang of it. That, and if they’ve been around politics for a while (and most White House Fever types have) they’ve got earlier versions of themselves to sweep under various political rugs.
We used to call it flip-flopping. Before that, we called it lying. The new term is “evolve.” Today’s politicians don’t turn their backs on everything they told voters to get elected to earlier offices. They “evolve.”
The pull of White House Ambition signals that it’s time to Start Evolving.
It’s up to we the people to see if we can figure out what they are going to evolve into.
Because they won’t tell us.
Because they don’t know.
Until they read the latest polls.
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, is, as everyone knows, a desperation hope for the Republican ticket for president in 2016. He put in a boffo performance during Hurricane Sandy, one that convinced a lot of people — including me — that he had an actual sense of responsibility to the people of New Jersey.
That alone was so refreshing — dare I say unique? — among today’s elected officials that it made him an immediate possibility in the upcoming fight for his very own front door key to the big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue. It also, if his recent performance is any indicator, flooded his brain with political laughing gas.
Governor Christie is on record opposing gay marriage. He’s also on record supporting civil unions. So the water has always been murky in Christie land. But now he’s faced with running for nomination to the presidency in a Republican Party that is trying to “re-frame” itself on several critical issues. While the Rs have historically used the gay marriage issue as a vote getter in conservative states, they have begun to find it less than useful in certain big-state electoral vote mother lodes. Hence the “re-framing.”
As I’ve tried repeatedly to tell people on this blog, political parties are about getting and keeping power and everything else they say is a lie. That includes the lie of either party about supporting traditional marriage (or gay marriage, for that matter) if it becomes a loser in the vote-getting department. An internal report earlier this year recommended that the Republican party back off on its position against gay marriage.
The reaction of the party faithful was strong enough that the Republican National Committee approved a resolution reaffirming that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
But potential presidential candidates can and must be more coy than party committees. They’ve got to thread the vote-getting needle.
So, of course, there’s going to be some “evolving” taking place in their positions on hot-button issues.
In Governor Christie’s case, that meant signing a new law that would ban certain types of psychological therapy for children and announcing that being gay is “inborn and not a sin.” He even managed to conflate this statement with Catholic teaching.
The truth is, nobody really knows what causes homosexuality. And of course being tempted to homosexual acts is not a sin. The next big leap into saying that actually going ahead and participating in homosexual acts is not sinful and that the Catholic Church teaches this is, well, just a Christie-ism.
News articles are now taking what the Governor said and putting it together with Pope Francis’ earlier statements to create a whole new teaching for the Catholic Church.
I wish the bishops would chime in with a correction. But until they do, I guess it’s up to us bloggers to do our best.
Here’s Catholic teaching as I understand it, which, since I am not running for president, is almost certainly going to be more accurate and less self-serving than anything Governor Christie will come out with.
As I said, it’s not a sin to be tempted to sin. If the sin is homosexual acts, the temptation is still not a sin. But committing the sinful act, even when that act is something as culturally sacred as having illicit sex, is a sin. Sex outside marriage is sinful. Period.
Second, Pope Francis did not say anything that contradicts this. He also did not overturn what Pope Benedict XVI taught.
Priests — both homosexual and straight — are supposed to be chaste, which, if you’re not married, means no sex. Both popes agree on that.
As for Governor Christie, my advice to him is to relax. It’s not anywhere near 2016. There’s plenty of time for him to “evolve” more gracefully than this.
This video talks about Christianity in China. Christianity is growing, despite persecution.
It is interesting that the communists do not make Christianity illegal, they put it under state control. This is similar to the way that our government has begun to try to control Christianity here in America; by reducing the First Amendment protections of the free exercise of religion to worship services in houses of worship and the privacy of our own homes.
This is tyranny.
The Christian Bashers Defense team has pretty much taken over the comboxes on my recent post Constitutional Rights for Me, But Not for Thee.
They are as predictable as mosquitoes. Just say something really true about their behavior, and they show up, armed to buzz bomb you until you go inside and close the door.
In this instance, I asked the simple question: Do Constitutional rights apply to Christians the same as everybody else?
The answer should seem obvious. But of course it’s not. The reason it’s not is the bullies who want to limit other people’s rights always get mad and deny what they are doing when someone calls them on it. They do it every single time.
We’re all supposed to join them in their pretense that there’s nothing discriminatory or offensive in their attempts to drive Christians from the public square. No one is supposed to challenge their idiotic pretense that using government controls to limit the free exercise of religion in this country is actually a push for freedom, instead of the tyranny that it is.
If we can’t be agree with them, they want us to sit down and be quiet and stop contradicting them. If we don’t, well then, they’ll scream and shout until everybody gives up and lets them have the day.
It has always been thus. People who do things like this always deny it, and they always get mean when someone calls them on their facile denials.
That’s why this particular post ended up being dive-bombed by a whole troupe of angry combox mosquitoes. Even though the readership of this blog is heavily — and I mean heavily – Christian, the Christian defenders were outnumbered. In fact, only three stalwart souls tried to stand up for Christ in these arguments. In the end, it got down mostly to one stubborn Christian, who is hanging in there to this very moment.
For all that, this lone fellow managed to push the whole mosquito assault into a slow unwinding of their lies until, one of them just came out with it.
And I quote:
In America, almost nobody has read the Constitution.
Everybody is a Supreme Court justice.
Americans tend to regard the Constitution in much the same way they do God: As a true and absolute reflection of themselves. Americans think that God is made in their image, and they also think that their Constitutional rights are exactly what they want them to be. They include in this, oddly enough, the fact that those Constitutional rights do not belong to other Americans, but to them, or at most, their group, alone.
This willingness to abrogate the rights of other people on the basis of self-serving and entirely bogus Constitutionality is not only false, it is of fairly recent origin. It is also concentrated in the arguments of a few groups of people that I call (paraphrasing Mary Ann Glendon) “rights talkers.”
I don’t remember reading anything Martin Luther King, Jr ever said that implied that the Constitution did not apply to white people, native Americans, or anyone, for that matter. His arguments were based on the idea that the Gospels of Christ, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution applied to everyone.
His method of arguing his case elevated the debate of this whole nation. He made us better people by what he said and what he did.
But Martin Luther King was a great man and a Christian man who found his primary and basic claim to the humanity of all people first and foremost in the Gospels of Christ.
That is a transcendent difference between him and the rights talkers of today.
I think the change began with abortion.
There is no possible way that anyone can argue for the “right” to commit wholesale slaughter against a whole class of people without totally nullifying the basis of Martin Luther King’s arguments. His call for equality was based on a deep understanding of the essential equality of all humanity, created as it is in the image and likeness of God, and endowed, as our founding documents say, by that Creator with certain unalienable rights. Abortion on demand does away with that premise as an arguable point.
There can be no equality of human beings if some human beings are not even considered worthy of having a basic right to life.
The debate about legalized abortion opened the doorway for the bastardization of the basic principles on which this country stands. It was but a short step after that to begin redefining the freedoms we have always regarded as belonging universally to all Americans in new, selective and narrowed ways.
People who try to argue for human rights without access to the foundation of all human rights, which is our profound equality before God, end up discriminating. They very quickly begin to advocate for practices which are not only discriminatory, but are flat-out tyrannical.
Since the types of things and the manner of debate that is employed by these people almost by definition puts them at odds with the Christian ethos of the equality of humanity, they also put them at odds with Christians, themselves. Abortion, the killing of unborn infants, is anathema to Christians who have from the beginning of the faith stood against human sacrifice of all types, including the practices of abandoning and exposing unwanted infants.
The split in our civil society began when that civil society departed from its roots to enter into the violent discrimination against an entire class of human beings by defining them as non-humans who may be killed with impunity. Those who adhered to this logic sheared themselves loose from the moorings of American society.
As their various “rights movements” took shape, they were always rooted in other soil than the great American enterprise of freedom and equality for all humanity.
For two hundred years this idea of freedom and equality had marched forward, expanding as it went. The founding fathers made tortured accommodations to slavery which could not stand. We fought a great civil war over slavery in particular, and the principles in the ideas on which this country was founded in general. Women, half the people, used the freedoms in the Constitution and the arguments in the Gospels to gain voting rights for themselves. Martin Luther King based an ultimately successful case with the American people for an end to segregation on them.
But these new “rights” movements of the last quarter of the 20th century and now into the 21st century cut themselves loose from the essential American logic at abortion. All people were no longer created equal in their way of measuring such things. And they certainly were not endowed by their Creator with certain rights such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Clearly, in the logic of those who follow abortion, not everyone is entitled to the same rights. More to the point, this iron wall of the God of Gospels on Whom such ideas of the universal equality of all humanity are based, must be taken down, by force if necessary.
It was, and it is, either Jesus Christ or their right to kill with impunity. The two cannot coexist.
What has grown out of this ethos is a deadly rhetorical stew of bad ideas and bastardized Constitutionalism that seeks to apply the bill of rights to those who hold certain ideas and to withdraw those rights from those who disagree with them.
Traditional Christianity as it has been taught and practiced for 2,000 years can not and will not bend on questions that strike to the heart of what we are. The question of who is human is simple in Christianity. We are all human. The question of who matters is equally simple. We all matter.
No group that agitates for their “rights” need look further than that for their arguments.
However, if the definition of those “rights” begins to tamper with the essential question of who a human is in ways that deny the basic moral structure of functioning humanity, then they no longer have access to the Gospels as their support. That is what has happened in contemporary America.
The result has been that we find claims to “rights” that do not exist, either in the Gospels, or the Constitution. These so-called “rights” are not “rights” at all, but rather a limitation of the Constitutional guarantees found in the First Amendment.
Suddenly, we are faced with people who use rhetorical film-flam phrases which align in sound but not meaning to American values and freedoms to claim that Christians do not have the same rights that other Americans enjoy. Christians who engage the larger culture by use of free speech, freedom of assembly and the right to petition their government are accused of attempting to “force their religion on others.”
Christians who work together in groups, which is a clearly guaranteed Constitutional right used by every “rights talker” who is attacking them for doing it, are suddenly accused of violating “separation of church and state” and threatened with the tax man bogeyman.
At the same time, any “rights talker” group whose 501c3 status was challenged would yell about their “rights” and “freedoms.”
The question becomes do Christians have the same rights as other citizens?
Do Christians have the right to free assembly? Do Christians have the right to free speech? Do Christians have the right to petition their government?
The right to free assembly goes deeper, since people who attack the Constitutional rights of Christians are also actively seeking to limit the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. They do this based on a hypothetical construct we like to call separation of church and state. Separation of church and state does not appear in the Constitution.
What does appear is a prohibition against the government passing laws to form a state religion and a prohibition of the government passing laws to interfere with the free exercise of religion. This is found in the same amendment that gives us our rights to freedom of speech, assembly and to petition the government. It reads like this:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.
The courts have looked deep into their own navels in the past half century and created a “wall of separation between church and state.” They have increasingly determined that is “wall” that they created means that the government has a duty to censor religious free speech of all types, and religious freedom of assembly in public places ranging from schools, to athletic events to parks.
At the same time, our president has pushed the government into the business of coercing religious people to violate their beliefs, including beliefs based on 2,000 years of constant Christian teaching, under the guise of the HHS Mandate. There is also a combative and often hectoring subset of our population who try to break up Christian discussions on on-line web-sites and/or in public debate.
These people always seem to toss around phrases such as “freedom of worship” and “privacy of your own homes.” They seek to apply these limits to Christian activity. Christians, they tell us, have “freedom to worship” in their “own houses of worship” and to believe what they want “in their own homes.” But that they do not have the freedom to engage in public debate based on their beliefs the same as other citizens.
Christians who use their freedom of speech of speak out about their beliefs in the public square, or who organize to effect changes in policy by means of petitioning their government or exercising their right to vote are told that they are out of line. They are trying to “force their religion” on other people.
These exact same people are engaged in using their freedom of speech when they say these things. They are usually actively organizing into groups to seek redress in the courts and to petition their government.
But they do not want Christians to have the same freedoms. They want Constitutional rights for themselves, but not for those who disagree with them.
This rhetoric is rooted in the fact that these rights talkers are the intellectual heirs and political allies of the abortion movement. They are, at their core, convinced that some people are more equal than others. In fact, one of their founding principles is that whole classes of human beings are not human enough to have an inherent right to be alive.
No good thing can come from a philosophy that is built on this murderous idea.
It is not an accident that rights talk has morphed so seamlessly into demands for limitations of the basic rights of those who disagree with the rights talkers.
It is a natural and inevitable outgrowth of a philosophy that is based on the darkest sort of discrimination. I am talking about a form of discrimination so dark that it says that the murder of a whole class of human begins is a “human right” of the murderer.
So long as “rights talkers” deny the human rights of whole classes of people, they are incapable of creating a consistent philosophy of human rights for themselves or the world they are trying to create.