Two pieces on the Trump Era

Two pieces on the Trump Era June 30, 2017
Image via Pixabay - CC0 Public Domain
Image via Pixabay – CC0 Public Domain

I’ve written two pieces on the Trump Era that I’ve published online outside of this blog. As some of my readers (and critics) will remember, I have also made my interest in the Trump Era very apparent on this blog, as it relates to the practice of ‘makrodiakonia,’ a Byzantine Christian way of understanding how the church can serve the world by challenging its structures of injustice.

The two pieces are:

My hope is that these two pieces might be helpful for the public conversation about our very interesting times. It is in this sense that I intend them to be acts of service.

As it happens, one of the shared practices between the academy and the Kyivan Church is service, or what our church calls diakonia. This diaconal service takes the form of engaging in the world outside of our institutions. As Patriarch Sviatoslav says:

Another important element, which expresses the inner nature of the Church and reveals the vibrancy of a parish is diakonia, which means serving in love or performing “charitable activity.” This service to our neighbor flows from our rootedness in Christ. Active love of neighbor is the vocation and task of each Christian without exception. It is only faith, acting in love, which leads us to salvation (see Gal. 5:6). Faith without works is dead (see James 2:26). “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mat. 25:40), – says the Lord Jesus.

Let us look around us – in this world there is so much tragedy and poverty, so much loneliness and sorrow, pain and suffering! All the challenging circumstances of our life on earth – these are for us an invitation to active love, which is an expression of living faith. The Lord wants to open our eyes to the suffering world so that we might learn to truly love and to express God’s love to our neighbor – by our attention to them, by our sincere sympathy, support, by our words of encouragement and good cheer, but mainly, through acts of mercy. It is only then that we can consider ourselves vibrant Christians and our parishes can become places where care is given to the orphan, protection for the widow, help for the poor, and where the suffering of the sick is shared. Thus we will reveal to the world the maternal face of the Church and will become the living sign of the presence of God among humankind, according to the words of St. Augustine: “If you see charity, you see the Trinity.”

In this way, both my professional location within the academy and my ecclesial home in the Kyivan Church require me to engage in a kind of diakonia to the world that often takes the form of what might be called ‘political discernment,’ as my spiritual father once taught me.

To the chagrin of some of my readers who want me to be more ‘theological’ and less ‘political,’ I have also thus written bits and pieces about the Trump Era on this blog. To not do so would be to cave in to a kind of secularism that divides the theological and the political. It would also hamstring the church’s diaconal approach to the world. Here, then, are my pieces on Trump on this blog:

There will, of course, be more forthcoming. It’s a very interesting time to discern and write.

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  • HpO

    Too abstract, hence clear as mud, this, Justin Tse: Whereas via (a) “‘makrodiakonia,’ … the church can serve the world by challenging its structures of injustice” – (b) “diakonia … takes the form of engaging in the world outside of our institutions”, though “often takes the form of what might be called ‘political discernment'”? Seeing as the difference between (a) and (b) is zero, except for the prefix, makro, this is much ado about nothing, then, as if to conclude the same about your Eastern Christianity of the left progressive sort?

    And what about this – some holy rolling dude’s spliffing & tripping, too, here or what? “Thus” – via “makrodiakonia” or, better, just “diakonia”, you know, without the said prefix – “we will reveal to the world the maternal face of the Church”, like he said, a “St. Augustine: ‘If you see charity, you see the Trinity'”? Scratching head here, I take it that’s Mister Trinity & Madame Mary as a coupling here that you’re “reveal”-ing” and I’m “see”-ing? Eww.

  • HpO

    TRUE OR FALSE: For Evangelicals, and I quote Justin Tse, “the core concept of forgiveness (is that) the slate has been wiped clean, and … God … can also create a new reality where past actions do not matter based on the simple spark of belief. … Past actions were now irrelevant to (the forgiven person’s) eternal security … so that action is ultimately irrelevant. … What an evangelical is”, therefore, “it is a theological system that banks on a mechanism of forgiveness to create the semblance of integrity.”

    FALSE: According to Evangelical beliefs and practices, a forgiven person is NOT a person of integrity, but simply one who has been forgiven. If and when God forgives Justin Tse, for instance, does that mean God has turned him into a person of integrity? Justin Tse himself will answer with a resounding, No way! So why then does he lie about Evangelicalism – just as Jerry Falwell Jr. and James Dobson lied to God and His people about Donald Trump being a born-again Christian? Don’t these behaviors of his and theirs themselves give credence to the common sense that if and when God forgives Justin Tse, Jerry Falwell Jr. and James Dobson, that doesn’t mean that God has turned him and them into people of integrity?