I’m on vacation, and though I’m an avocational blogger, blogging (and even web-browsing for interesting stuff) has taken a back seat. Sorry that the stuff that’s made the cut is kind of dark. I’m having a good time. Really.
I’m finding that Presidential politics is kind of fun if you can just learn to:
- Look for the parodies of candidates.
- Look for the parodies of stupid media hits on (need I say “Republican”?) candidates.
- Follow the money.
- Follow the semen.
- Forget that these are our best and brightest.
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.
(Attributed to Martin Luther via Francis Schaeffer by Stan Guthrie, on the occasion of Tony Campolo and David Neff ceasing to confess Christ.)
How better it would have been if the PCUSA, ELCA and others had told the innovators “twice we’ve considered this, twice we’ve concluded that you’re wrong. Your latest initiative is out of order.” But no, they had to keep dialoging with the serpent.
You also find [the call for “dialog”] in the call from some quarters for Orthodox Christians to maintain an ecumenical posture of interminable “openness” — despite St. Paul stating rather emphatically that “after admonishing [a heretic] once or twice, have nothing more to do with him; he is self-condemned” (Titus 3:11). Helen Andrews recently encountered (and deftly countered) it in her engagement with anti-censorship absolutists.
As I’ve already suggested, this principle can’t withstand the slightest scrutiny from a Christian perspective.
The prophet Isaiah tells us that “he who walks righteously and speaks uprightly” is also he who “stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil” (Is. 33:15-16). In the Wisdom of Sirach we are told to “hedge in thy ears with thorns, hear not a wicked tongue” (Sir. 28:24). Advancing to the New Testament, St. Paul warns: “Do not be deceived: bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Cor. 15:33). When addressing the church at Thessalonika he exhorts to “keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6). In his epistle to the Galatians he invites us to treat as accursed (ανάθεμα) anyone preaching a gospel contrary to that of the apostles (Gal. 1:8). Needless to say, this is someone whose openness to foreign or wicked ideas and conversation has definite, hard limitations.
The patristic witness follows the scriptural. Speaking of the heretical Novatians (ca. third century), St. Cyprian of Carthage writes:
Avoid, I beg of you, men of this kind, and keep distant from your flank and from your ears their destructive communications, as you would contact with a contagious death.
Striking a similar note over a millenium later, St. Mark of Ephesus writes:
[H]ow shall we regard those moderate Greco-Latins who, maintaining a middle ground, openly favor some of the Latin rites and dogmas—favor, but do not wish to accept others—and entirely disapprove of others? One must flee from them as one flees from a snake, as from the Latins themselves, or, it may be, from those who are even worse than they—as from buyers and sellers of Christ.
When one turns to the monastic literature of the Church, the spiritual danger of keeping bad company is a recurring and common theme. Indeed, the inception and rise of monasticism itself was driven largely by the zeal of those seeking to flee the corrupting influence of a compromised and worldly Christianity.
Far from “damaged”, Ms Jenner’s medical transfiguration is a glorious example of the American faith in action. She has refashioned mere nature to better reflect the hard-won truth of the divinity within.
Ms Jenner, it bears mentioning, is also a committed Christian. In the Washington Post Josh Cobia relates what Ms Jenner, then known as Bruce, taught him about Jesus, and life, at a nondenominational evangelical church they both attended. “Jesus wasn’t one to turn away from those the world had labeled broken,” Mr Cobia concluded. “He was the one who would walk toward them with open arms”.
The tolerant Jesus of Mr Cobia and Ms Jenner may not be the Jesus of Thomas Aquinas or Martin Luther or John Knox or John Wesley. He is a Jesus perhaps more thoroughly invested in the “autonomous eroticised individualism” of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman than a first-century re-interpretation of the Judaic law. But that is the American and still-Americanising Jesus of many millions of American believers who, like Caitlyn Jenner, attend nondenominational evangelical churches, and who, like Caitlyn Jenner, vote Republican.
This is why going after Ms Jenner is ultimately a loser for Republicans presidential wannabes. Caitlyn Jenner of Malibu is a leading indicator not of the secularisation of America, but of the ongoing Americanisation of Christianity. There’s no point dying in the last ditch to defend Old World dogma against the transformative advance of America’s native faith if it may leave you out of step with a growing number of voters who find divinity by spelunking the self.
On a related note, D.G. Hart reviews Kevin M. Kruse’s One Nation Under God. So deep does this “Christian Nation” crap run that Rod Dreher has been getting e-mail from Evangelicals suggesting that “now is the time to push for an amendment to the US Constitution protecting traditional marriage.” What alternate universe must such people be living in?
Today is the 48th Anniversary of my high school graduation (unless my memory is tricking me). The Missus asks “Did you go anywhere after that?”, to which the current answer seemed “Yeah. Asheville. Twice.”
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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)