Wednesday, 1/28/15

I noticed that I was running long on religion, short on politics, so I moved the politics to a separate, forthcoming blog. This one’s all religious topics, should that be a particular turn-on or turn-off for you.

  1. Called to be righteous-with-wicked
  2. Called to chastity (tougher than you think)
  3. Shema, shahadah, credo
  4. Lying in the service of truthiness
  5. The debate hasn’t started until I’ve won

1

Sobering words about life in a world gone so palpably mad in the short span of a single lifetime (my own lifetime, which roughly corresponds to the author’s):

Abraham’s intercession [for Sodom and Gomorrah] reveals the very heart of the Church’s prayer. The righteous man lives side-by-side with the wicked, but he doesn’t despise them or pray for their destruction. Instead, he recognizes the coinherence and communion of all humanity – “Will the Lord destroy the righteous with the wicked?” We are with the wicked. We do not have a life apart from them, for we are with them. And this presence becomes the fulcrum for the salvation of the world. “I will be with you,” Christ promises (Matt. 28:20). Or as we remember in the services of the Church:

God is with us! Understand you nations and submit yourselves for God is with us!

It is interesting in our day and time that many Christians number themselves among those who call for the destruction of the wicked. Surrounded by evil, our fears lash out with violent thoughts. We refuse to be with the wicked. And though Abraham and Lot had gone their separate ways, Abraham didn’t set himself as being above him – nor even above the wicked who dwelt in the cities. For though his prayer is for the righteous – he pleads through them for the wicked.

This is not only the prayer of the Church, it is the ministry of the Church as well. We are called to be the righteous-with-the-wicked. Our lives in their midst are for their salvation … We are taught to pray for our enemies not as a moral requirement, but so that we might be like our heavenly Father, or in this case, like our father Abraham, who was like our heavenly Father.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman)

2

[Dawn] Eden affirms that all Christians are called to live chastely, as the Catechism explains, whatever their state in life. Chastity—not to be confused with celibacy, as it often is—means a total commitment to Christ, and self-mastery over one’s desires, whether one is single or married, female or male, religious or secular. It means leading a life of virtue and sacrifice, in charity and gratitude, for the glory of God.

(William Doino, Jr.) I’ve long been about as frustrated at the confusion among chastity, celibacy and “abstinence” as I am at the confusion between the immaculate conception (which I think is an answer in search of a question) and the virgin birth (and if Wikipedia’s right, maybe I should throw in perpetual virginity).

But I myself had missed that “chastity” goes beyond matters of sexuality. My bad.

3

Judaism has its shema, and Islam its shahadah, but Christians, responding to Jesus’s question, “Who do you say that I am?” have produced literally thousands of statements of faith across the centuries. [Jaroslav] Pelikan’s collection includes several hundred of these, among them The Masai Creed from Kenya. This creed Africanizes Christianity by declaring that Jesus “was always on safari doing good.” It also declares that after Jesus had been “tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died, he laid buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, he rose from the grave. He ascended unto the skies. He is the Lord.”

This creed was brought to Pelikan’s attention by one of his students, a woman who had been a member of a religious order working in a hospital in East Nigeria. Pelikan commented on his reaction to this text: “And so she brought it to me, and I just got shivers, just the thought, you know, the hyenas did not touch him and the act of defiance—God lives even in spite of the hyenas.”

(Timothy George, Jesus on Safari)

4

As a participant in many dialogues—ecumenical and interfaith—I have often encountered criticisms from fellow evangelicals who tell me that we do not have the leisure for the “niceties” of polite discussion with people with whom we disagree. Not infrequently I have been told that we have to get on with the urgent “battle for the truth.” What I find ironic about those preachments is that if we are genuinely contending for the truth, then we must pay careful attention to whether we are being truthful in our characterizations of people with whom we disagree. It seems odd to be willing to distort the truth out of a concern to score points in a contest for truthfulness!

(Richard Mouw, How to Battle for Hearts and Minds, wherein Mouw reminisces on an encounter with Christian Reconstructionist Gary North)

5

There had been no discussion on issues like birth control, about premarital sex, about divorced and remarried Catholics. None whatsoever. There’s been no discussion for the last probably 35 years on that . . .

(Robert Mickens of the National Catholic Reporter on 60 Minutes, confusing “my side hasn’t won” with “there has been no discussion.”) H/T George Weigel

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.