This morning, I read about the arrest in Michigan of eight "patriotic Christians" who had plotted to bomb a funeral service of a policeman. On the same day, I received another email about the "pray for Obama" bumper sticker - this time from my sister (who's really a very committed Christian, intelligent, etc. A wonderful person). So I wrote down these thoughts:
Most of us, by now, have heard of the bumper sticker going around which reads: "Pray for Obama - Psalm 109:8”. It’s may be a trivial example of how ugly some of us Christians have become in recent years – but it’s also a horrific example. The full passage, which is supposed to elicit satisfying chuckles from us when we look it up, reads “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow." As my friend likes to say, “yeah, funny… but not in a HA-HA way.”
“Liberalism was, in origin, criticism of the old
established order. Today, it is the voice of the establishment.” --George Grant
“The end is in the beginning.” --Plato
“I have found from many observations that sometimes
our liberal is incapable of granting anyone else his own convictions and
immediately answers his opponent with abuse or something worse.” --Dostoyevsky
“The saint needed by each culture is the one who
contradicts it the most.” --G.K. Chesterton
1. The Matrix of Liberalism
All of us, whether we are
consciously aware of it or not, think from a core of philosophic principles. It
is from these seed thoughts, principles or ideas, that the fruit of various and
varied ethical positions are taken. We live in a period of time in which many
ethical positions are embraced, contested and questioned in our culture wars.
Many is the hot button issue that, when articulated and argued in the public
places, creates many a reaction. Ethical tribes and clans (and chieftains
aplenty) have emerged to beat the drums for ethical positions on the political
right, sensible centre and political left.
I have attempted to show that kingdom culture
is a spiritual culture revealed by God.This culture comes out of his character, which is unchanging.The spiritual culture of the kingdom is
unchanging as well.How the people
of God are to live is a constant that does not change from era to era.This characteristic of kingdom culture
is markedly different from world culture, which is always in flux, changing and
evolving.This is important to
understand for the community of Christ by the way it lives life fulfills its
prophetic role in the world to reveal who God is.Christians ought to be those who understand what God is
truly like in character.They
ought to be those who not only know about God, but who know him relationally.All the theology in the world does us
no good if we do not know him.At
the heart of kingdom culture is this spiritual reality: we can be reconciled to
God through Jesus and truly know him.The Christian style of life revolves around this reality.God has made it possible for us to have
a genuine and real relationship with him.
E. Jane Doering and Eric O. Springsted, The Christian
Platonism of Simone Weil(Notre
Dame: UND Press, 2004.
Alan Mendelson, Exiles from Nowhere: The Jews and the
Robin Brass Studio, 2008).
In reviewing these two scholarly gems, I read them from a
particular perspective. I am at the fledgling stage of George P. Grant
research, with a special interest in enucleating the animating core of his life
as a contemplative theologian and Canadian ‘prophet.’ One cannot hope to
understand Grant’s work as a philosopher, political scientist and activist
apart from the context of his Weilian Christian Platonism, for in his spiritual
journey out of the dark cave of modernity (think Plato), Simone Weil was truly
his ‘Diotima.’ Further,
Grant’s emergence as one of Canada’s preeminent thinkers must be understood in
light of his progressivist liberal pedigree. From that point of view, a book of
essays on Weil’s Christian Platonism and a history that situates him among Canada’s
intellectual elite are must-reads.
The Church has been facing a crisis for some
time now, a crisis surrounding the question of relevance.Its critics claim that the Church and
the Gospel have ceased being relevant and meaningful.Many have sought to answer this crisis by searching for ways
to connect with the culture outside the Church, a challenge to say the
least.Some programs and plans may
have limited success in drawing some into the Church, but the question
regarding the crisis needs some kind of answer: why has the Church and the
Gospel lost its relevance in a world so desperately in need of both Christ’s community and
message?Part of the answer,
though it is surely a complicated one, lies in understanding that Christians
are called to a way of life.Their
style of living is to be culturally distinct from the world they find
themselves in.It is this way of
life that makes the Church the salt of the earth and the light of the
world.The Church needs to recall
its spiritual culture and live according to it in order to be relevant, which
will give the treasure of the gospel which they hold real meaning in today’s world.
Outline of a
Proposed Paper for the Orthodox
Christian Conference on Psychology and Psychotherapy.
"Man, with respect to his nature, is most truly
said to be neither soul without body, nor...body without soul; but is composed
of the union of body and soul into one form of the beautiful” (Saint Methodios
of Olympus, On The Resurrection, 1:5)
The purpose of
this paper is to examine the roots of what we call “sin” from a perspective
which takes into account more fully the understanding that “sin” ultimately
means the misuse of our energies.
While I realise
that, at this conference, I may be preaching to the choir about the need for
greater cooperation between clergy and mental health care professionals, I feel
that it is necessary for a hierarch of the church to address these matters.
Even in our era there are too many superstitions and mythologies surrounding
mental health problems. Because of this we have seen some serious tragedies even
in the past few years.
Because we use
the metaphor of the Church as a spiritual hospital, we need to call upon our
clergy to follow the dictum of Hippocrates of Kos who said of the medical
profession, “above all do no harm.” If we consider the church to be a spiritual
hospital and the priests to be spiritual healers, then surely we must also
apply this dictum. A certain amount of knowledge and awareness are necessary in
order accomplish this. Allow me to give some examples in which this dictum was
most certainly violated as superstition and ignorance prevailed.
Friends. This morning, while reading Merton's Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, I came across something that took the wind out of my sails (that’s a good thing). I instantly thought of Jesus' call to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. ======= In the refectory a tendentious book about Communism was being read. Communism is insidious. We should hate all that is insidious, especially this ultimate diabolical insidiousness which is Communism. If we truly hate it with all the power of our being, then we can be sure that we ourselves are, and will remain righteous, free, sincere, honest, open. Today then (we are told) hatred of Communism is the test of a good Christian. The pledge of all truth is political hate. Hate Castro. Khrushchev. Hate Mao. All this in the same breath as "God's merciful love" and "the beatings of the Sacred Heart." There seems to be some other dimension we have not discovered....
Chrysostom has some fine things to say about sheep and wolves in the III Nocturn of St. Barnabas' Day. "As long as we remain sheep, we overcome. Even though we may be surrounded by a thousand wolves, we overcome and are victorious. But as soon as we are wolves, we are beaten: for then we lose the support of the Shepherd, who feeds not wolves, but only sheep." - from Homily 34 on St. Matthew ============= From Merton’s Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, pg. 44
Christians face an added complexity in considering culture and paradigms. This complexity is summed up nicely in the well known axiom “In the world but not of the world.” What does that mean exactly? This question is what will concern us from here on and we begin with the idea that Christians are called out from the world, called out of their cultures and paradigms. They are to live according to a spiritual culture based on and in God who calls them out of the world and into his kingdom.
therefore, Judaism is coincident with a vital prophetic tradition.”
Hans Urs Von Balthsar
Buber and Christianity (p.36)
The Jewish Zionist
tradition took two different paths within the early years of its formation in
the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The
tradition of Theodore Herzl, Max Nordau and Vladimir Jabotinsky was aggressive
and hawkish and had limited sympathy for the Arabs that were living in
Palestine. Sadly so, when most think of Zionism, they tend to assume the
perspective of Herzl and followers was the only approach to a Jewish homeland.
There was, though, another approach to the Zionist position. Men like Ahad
Ha-am, Martin Buber and Judah Magnes stood within this more irenical and
Part I of a 8 part series: Introduction and Chapter 1
Culture and Paradigm: The Underlying Problem
new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one
another. By this all men will know
that you are my disciples, if you
love one another.
said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to
prevent my arrest by the Jews. But
now my kingdom is from another place.
“You are a king, then!”
said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You
are right in saying I am a king.
In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth. Everyone
on the side of truth listens to me.”
that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law,
tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest
commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied, “Love the lord your God with all your
heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your
neighbour as yourself. All the Law
and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”