So I went to Mass yesterday and Father talked about the goodness of Christian meditation. The core difference between Christian and non-western forms of meditation is the object. The goal of the east is detachment from the world and desire. It’s not a bad start since no small part of our problem is disordered attachment to creatures, aka idolatry. So part of Christian meditation is likewise to take our minds off earthly things as Paul says to do.
But it does not end there. Paul also says to put our minds on heavenly things. In other words, we detach in order to re-attach rightly.
The Holy Spirit seemed to be saying, “That’s a good idea. You should try that.”
So I went for a walk yesterday and started trying to meditate on the gospel. I find it’s easier to do that if I talk out loud about it, like I’m explaining it to somebody else (it’s a teaching charism thing and a big part of how I learn).
Anyway, I walked round the neighborhood chewing over the story of the baptism in the river Jordan. I think I’m going to write that part up for the Catholic Weekly since Advent is coming up and the peculiarity of that story is interesting. But for me, what quickly began to emerge was the realization that the devil does not care whether your disordered attractions to something are due to love or loathing. As long as your attention is devoted to it, that’s good enough for him because it means your attention is not devoted to God.
Which, of course, immediately made me think of the time and energy devoted to fighting the Christianist Cult of Trump. The fight against that Cult is necessary, I think, since it is a diabolical cult devoted to an antichrist…
— Diana Butler Bass (@dianabutlerbass) November 5, 2018
…and it is at open war with the gospel and the least of these.
But here’s the thing: you can, and I have, spend so much time focusing on the war with diabolical Liar that you forget that your first goal as a worshipper of God is to do what Jesus said in the gospel yesterday:
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
‘He is One and there is no other than he.’
And ‘to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself’
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
The long and the short of it is this:
To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But he said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:59–60).
The man did not mean that he needed to attend his father’s funeral. He meant, “Let me delay following your for a few years while my father is still alive. Family (that is, earthly) obligations come first.” Jesus rejected this. Stop letting any earthly obligations come first.
This is, of course, the great sin of Christianism itself. It subjugates the entire gospel to money, pleasure, honor and, above all, power as it worship the racist grifter who promised them that if they voted for him “Christianity will have power.” He led them to a high mountain, showed them all the kingdoms of the world and said, “All this will I give you if you bow down and worship me.”
That is the most obvious way antichrist makes war on Christ.
But there is another way he can do it too: by making you focus all your loathing on him. That too is a distraction. And the counsel of Jesus is as brutal as taking up your cross: Let the dead bury their dead. Stop wasting time arguing with a black hole and telling it not to suck all things into it void of narcissism. Stop telling the wilfully blind to see. Stop telling the wilfully deaf to hear. Stop letting your anger own you and drive you and keep you just as focused on the devil’s distractions as they are. Turn your attention back to Christ and on him and his kingdom meditate both day and night.
It was very freeing. I’m going to attempt it. And my first attempt is this post.
This does not, by the way, mean “Stop talking about Jesus’ demand that we care for the least of these and instead devote our time to gooey quietist piety that does not make waves or challenge the evil actions of Trump Cult of Blood and Lies.” But it does mean focusing the energy on the actual gospel and the actual Christ and showing the light of the gospel instead of focusing on the black hole’s attempt to suck up all that light.
Anyway, it felt like a step forward.