Via Atrios, we read this post from Big Brass Blog, who finds a freeper frothing about Sunday's homily. The priest apparently had some kind words for the parents of gay and lesbian children, which doesn't sit well with the freepi.
What caught my eye was the freeper's parenthetical complaint about the theme of the sermon:
During the homily at Mass today, our new priest was preaching about being "counter-culture" (what that had to do with the readings is beyond me), and said that he admires parents of gays and lesbians.
Our neighbor at the freerepublic seems to think that no American Christian ought to be "counter-cultural." He believes, in other words, that American culture is wholly in tune with the Christian Gospel. America is the New Jerusalem, the Millennial kingdom of God in which Jesus sits at the right hand of the president. Rather than being "counter-culture," he believes, Christians ought to conform themselves to this age.
That's precisely the opposite of what Sunday's readings teach:
Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
My favorite translation of that passage comes from J.B. Phillips, who renders it: "Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould." How one could preach a sermon on this text without urging parishioners to be counter-cultural is beyond me.
Right-wing American Christians seem ambivalent about the Gospel's counter-cultural imperative. On the one hand, they seem to regard America as God's chosen nation, a city on a hill. They tend to speak of an undifferentiated "we" that refers to both church and state, and proudly speak of their nation in terms that their scriptures use exclusively for the fellowship of believers. On the other hand, they love to rail against the supposed decline of American morality and embrace jeremiads with titles like "Slouching Toward Gomorrah."
Whether they describe America as Babylon or as the New Jerusalem seems to depend on how you phrase the question. Ask them if America is "good" and you'll get an uncritically patriotic affirmative. Ask them if America is "moral" and you'll get a fire and brimstone warning of the wrath to come.
Anyway, if a single priest's simple expression of admiration for the parents of gays and lesbians causes freepers to flee the pews, just imagine how they'll react to this story: "Maryland religious leaders back gay unions."