A Different Sort of Easter Message

A Different Sort of Easter Message March 31, 2024


Me with my friend the Jesuit scholar Jim Martin, in the office of America Media where he works for his church in New York.



As a crucial national election season is just around the bend, it might be good to listen to the wisdom of some of our found fathers…. And before them, Jesus himself.


While some have thought Abraham Lincoln came up with this phrase about ‘a house divided’ before or during the Civil War, in fact it’s a phrase coined by Jesus as a quick reading of Mark. 3.25 and parallels will show.  In any case, it is the truth, and one that has a current application to the current fragile state of American democracy.  What is not helping is social media’s willingness to allow all sorts of conspiracy theories and straight up lies to be posted on the internet and read by millions.


And no Jim Jordan I do not agree that ‘free speech’ amounts to allowing slanderous speech and outright lies be given an airing on the principle of ‘let the people decide for themselves’.  This is utter nonsense if we think about it even for an instance.  For example, do we want the general public deciding whether or not it’s important for doctors to perform emergency surgery on someone who has just been in a terrible car wreck?  Of course not.  They are not knowledgeable enough to know the necessary and right course of action to take.  There is a need for experts in numerous fields to prevent us from making disastrous, and life-threatening mistakes.  Do we want the general public or particular individuals to decide whether or not they should stop at a stop light that is red? Of course not, not only do we need experts in an increasingly technologically complex world, but we need laws which the general public should obey, or work through their representative to change if they are unfair. What this country needs more of is Christian sense, solidly based in Biblical values, not ‘common sense’.


The essence of democracy is free and fair elections, and the willingness to accept the outcome even if it doesn’t go the way you want it to go.   The essence of democracy is the willingness to compromise bearing in mind that the best is sometimes the enemy of accomplishing the good.   There is no perfect legislation, and there are no perfect solutions to our nation’s problems, but working together to make things better is possible.


For example, no fair reading of the Bill of Rights authorizes private citizens to own military weapons.  Private citizens are not the army or the national guard, and what the founding fathers were talking about is ‘a well-ordered militia’ that each state should be allowed to have.  And anyway, over 70% of Americans agree that some better gun control and background checks are needed.  So those impeding such legislation in Congress should get out of the way, and listen to the people involved in Sandy Hook Promise.  Let’s stop sacrificing our children and others on the altar of a perverted and unconstitutional view of gun rights in America. As America becomes more immoral and mentally sick, we don’t need more guns to solve those problems we need less automatic weapons in the hands of all sorts of private citizens, even teenagers.


Were we to interview Abraham Lincoln today and ask his opinion of what is happening in our nation today, I’m pretty sure he would be quoting to us again Mark 3.25.  We need to find reasonable common ground on numerous issues.  We need to agree that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes, including major corporations.   What happens when the shadow of darkness and ignorance closes in on a nation can be seen by examining what happened to Russia with the demise of glasnost and perestroika in the time of Gorbachev and the rise of a dictator like Putin.  America cannot take that as a positive example of what sort of leadership we want and need.  Ignorance of the truth leads to embracing all sorts of conspiracy theories and lies.  And at root, the real basis of democracy is truth, a truth shared and embraced by the vast majority of a citizens.  This is why one of our founding documents begins ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident’.  Notice the reference to truths—like ‘liberty and justice for all’ not just for the rich.   Truth is not the possession of an individual.  There is no such thing as ‘my truth’ as opposed to ‘your truth’ if we are talking TRUTH with a capital T. Truth is a shared value, and it is all important as the basis of a democracy.


We will never solve the immigration problem by spending billions building more walls. They do not work.  Consider all the tunnels under the existing walls. We need to work with Mexico to deal with the root causes of the problem of people fleeing from the drug cartels and poverty in their native countries.  And frankly, Congress needs to pass the legislation already crafted to deal with this problem. It is simply not true that the President can solve this problem by some sort of executive decree.  It requires legislation in Congress.


And in regard to drugs— if Americans were NOT buying, selling, and consuming illegal drugs right left and center, then drugs wouldn’t be coming across the border or being manufactured clandestinely in every state.  The ultimate source of the drug problem in America is Americans using drugs like fentanyl!  Period.  Stop blaming other nations for problems we have created for ourselves.


Beneath all these problems is a deep and profound spiritual problem. America has largely stopped embracing Biblical values—values shared by Jews, Christians, and to some extent Muslims as well.  We have stopped believing in ‘One Nation Under God, with Liberty and Justice for All’. We have stopped believing in ‘In God We Trust’ and in both cases those phrases when coined referred to the God of the Bible.   What our nation needs above all is a profound spiritual revival, touching young and old, and people of every race, creed, and gender.  And frankly, what we need most of all is a re-acquaintance with Jesus Christ, the risen Lord.  Maybe this Easter we can start looking in his direction for guidance once more, and take seriously, the values he preached in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere.   They are not sectarian values, they are human values for those who would be set free from what binds, bewitches, bothers, and bewilders them.  Amen to That.

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