The blog

The blog—informal opinions and chat about the parish

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Personal Note Again

As a college English instructor, I am normally overwhelmed in the days between Thanksgiving and Candlemas. (I just had to throw that one in, being the recent convert in the crowd.) End of semester grades, prepping for the coming semester, clearing up the inevitable administrative foul-ups—all demand a ton of time. Family Thanksgiving and Christmas, of course, demand a ton of time. And this year, just to drive me totally insane, I have volunteered to be the church Treasurer in our parish, which meant setting up new procedures and trying to get it all running by the first of the year.

All this means that this orphaned blog got little attention.

The recent election, of course, has taken its emotional toll as well. I look back on the posts I wrote in September and November, and, in a way, I have little to add. The real question, however, for Christians is a divine "Now what?"

We see the civil government moving vividly in the direction of authoritarianism and white supremacy. We see the potential ending of many of the values that characterized America for the last hundred years. Taking a deep breath, I ask, "Now what?"

First, no matter what people may be saying, the American President is not an autocrat—yet. Executive orders encouraging torture are illegal and likely to be opposed by many in the chain of command. Executive orders targeting one religion for special treatment are illegal and likely to be challenged in court. We have a little bit of time, and we should use it wisely.

Second, there is a big difference between claiming the label "Christian" and actually being one. That's a theme that permeates Scripture. Much of what parades in public as American Christianity is little more than a dressed-up version of materialism, chauvinism, and racism, with a cross painted on the door to make it look more acceptable to the public. The teenagers' youth group question WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) is actually a good one. Would he turn his back on refugees? Campaign in favor of the Emperor? Publicly insult people with whom he disagreed? Probably not. We need to remain clear about what the Christian faith is really all about.

And that brings me to a particularly Episcopalian point. For a very long time, we've run counter to a me-too attitude toward the culture—even the culture of mainstream religion. The poor, the lonely, the refugee, all are our business. We respect and welcome all, regardless of externals.

Talk is cheap. Today I'm firing off a check to the ACLU and another to Habitat for Humanity.