Well, it’s been a week.
I hate talking about or writing about politics. I principally intend to write about religion, theology, and Christianity – which is already one of those immediately divisive topics that tends to inflame the emotions and sensibilities of the reader. I press forward on such discussions, because for me the cost is always outweighed by the acting out of the burden which I carry to elucidate my ever-maturing notions of Biblical interpretation and practical theology.
Yet, this week has been of a strange, and unprecedented, character. One of those times where a practical theology seems absurd to speak of without engaging with political developments. Yet it is not of those developments directly which I wish to speak to today.
Rather, it is the tone and the spirit through which we interact with our Christian brothers and sisters who have taken differing political stances to our own in these past few days.
Many of you likely already know my stance on some of the more significant developments of the past week. I will readily confess to you now: I have had considerable difficulty this week being gracious in my thoughts towards those religious or Christian leaders that have taken particular stances on these issues which seem to me to run counter to Charity and God’s call towards the oppressed. Some, inexcusably, have taken no stance at all. Perhaps we leave them aside for the moment, though, and focus on those of us who have humbly and honestly committed our lives to the service of Christ and the Christian mission, as so powerfully represented through His life, death through execution, and resurrection.
So, here we sit. The Holy Spirit of the living God indwelling in you, and in me. The same Spirit. Which is able to read, digest, and interpret the same Word of God which we have received through the centuries. Here we sit, with wildly different stances.
“In the sanctorum communio, ‘None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.’ ‘If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.’ ‘Charity does not insist on its own way.’ In this solidarity with all men…the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms the community.” Catholic Catechism, art. 953 (quoting Rom 14:7; 1 Cor 12:26-27; 1 Cor 13:5)
You already know, most likely, that I hold my views strongly as they relate to our new U.S. Executive Branch and its actions this week. This has led to all manner of confusion, doubts, and temptations to think less of friends, mentors, and colleagues who “have not come over to my thinking” on these issues. And, I do not wish to suggest a post-modern false equivalency here – that I have my views, you have your’s, and let’s all just get along because no one’s right or wrong. I decidedly do not think that.
What I do think, and think most urgently, is that the Holy Spirit calls us into community, into the Church, which is a call that accompanies our social responsibilities as citizens and as practicing Christians. One of my friends put the tension into words, which many of us are feeling: “We’re all just trying to figure this out.”
It doesn’t mean that we don’t rise up, voice our convictions to what we believe after careful reflection is correct and right and True. In doing so, we will run counter to one another in terms of our aim and our goal. It will be easy to view each other as an enemy.
I write tonight without suggesting solutions, but perhaps more as self-diagnosed therapy. The same Holy Spirit that has drawn each of us towards living, breathing faith in the God who has deeply loved the world, dwells in us and has full ability to spur us towards righteous convictions and behaviours. I urgently and solemnly hope and wish for the aforementioned friends, mentors, and colleagues to refine their views…yet their views are not mine to change. Bonhoeffer:
“Spiritual love…will rather meet the other person with the clear Word of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him again in order that Christ may deal with him. It will respect the line that has been drawn between him and us by Christ, and it will find full fellowship with him in the Christ who alone binds us together.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Life Together”, 36.
May God grant us vision to see beyond the present difficulties, and grace us with His mercy.