Hard to argue with this command, it being good to be good and all.
Too often, however, the pursed lipped, censorious, humorless person with power, commands us to be good to avoid talking about where they compromise with the powerful. The Stalinist in the 1930’s is eager to condemn the Czarist, but not so happy to talk about the Ukraine. They know the New York Times will cover for them as will Christian professors. Who will believe that a New York Times reporter is palling around with a Satanist while defending Stalin? Maybe all the Soviets build is ugly and millions die, but at least they are not Saint Elizabeth New Martyr or as embarrasing as Billy Sunday.
She may have sacrificed for the poor, but she did so for the wrong ideological reasons.
The Christian college professor paid by usury and by exploiting conservative parents (who did not know what they were paying for) is happy to condemn free markets and the parent’s foibles. In the past, they worried about “anti-communism” in America more than Communism, while millions were murdered. They mock any parent worried about Harry Potter over witchcraft, but pause over Rowling’s traditional notion of what makes a woman.
They are grifters with degrees, but they proclaim:
So they say, but by “be good” they mean whatever the spirit of the age proclaims that can be paid for by unforgivable loans: student usury without end. Amen.
They will condemn a dead movie star while posturing as hip enough to watch some particularly decadent present movie star in a “thoughtful movie.” They do not make the mistake of condemning anything that is new, but sit censorious on anything that is old. These are the Sadducees who will give the Romans what they need while (mostly) attacking the oppressed Jewish people for their errors.
We should be good, but most often our image of what is good is based on those we wish would praise us in our particular place and time. That is not goodness, but may be decent polling. Imagine, for example, opposition to geographical colonialism that then has no problem with moral colonialism. The decadent professor (rightly) condemns taking land, but has no problem with colonizing the heart. The American academic condemns nineteenth century jingoes, the White Man’s Burden, that nobody much could do now, while lauding the White Nation’s Ethics, enforced by “charitable contributions,” that have all the force of American media and political power.
They would never take Aksum’s land, but would steal Aksum’s heart.
Christians must oppose jingoism and moral jingoism. We are opposed to the colonialism of Cecil Rhodes and the moral colonialism of Joe Biden.
An icon is a “window to heaven.” In an icon, some deep truth is revealed in an image we can understand: an Idol bids worship, an icon thought. The patriot venerates the flag, an icon of his nation. The jingoist worships the flag as an idol. We need men in this nation who will venerate, but would never worship a national icon. As a religion of the Cross, the Christian looks for icons that will explain, at a gut level, the power of the Cross.
Southern gentle lady,
Do not swoon.
They’ve just hung a black man
In the dark of the moon.
They’ve hung a black man
To a roadside tree
In the dark of the moon
For the world to see
How Dixie protects
Its white womanhood.
Southern gentle lady,
This is Joe Biden proclaiming his Catholicism, while denying central ethical teachings on abortion. This is a Christian being “conservative” while urging other Christians to jump Jim Crow.