The Enchantment of the World is the Truth of its Existence

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Judgemental Attitude

"It is not the responsibility of knights errant to discover whether the afflicted, the enchained and the oppressed whom they encounter on the road are reduced to these circumstances and suffer this distress for their vices, or for their virtues: the knight's sole responsibility is to succor them as people in need, having eyes only for their sufferings, not for their misdeeds."

~ Miguel De Cervantes (From: "Don Quixote")

The quote above does not apply only to "knights", but is illustrative of the kind of attitude all Christians should have.

Those who call themselves Christian and yet say things like:

"If I have to pass a drug test to get a job, you should have to pass a drug test to get welfare";
"If you can afford to buy beer and cigarettes, you don't need food stamps";
"Why the f**k does someone on welfare own an iPhone?" etc,

should seriously examine their conscience and carefully consider what sort of attitude this displays, for it is a judgemental attitude and is not consistent with the Gospel of Christ.

Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my Commandments" (John 14:15), and when asked which of the Commandments were the most important, said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great Commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40).

When asked, "Who is my neighbor?", Jesus replied with the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

In this Parable, we see a man helping a total stranger, even an enemy, using his own money and resources, never asking what caused the stranger to be in such a condition and not attaching any strings or limitations on his charity. This is not only a demonstration of real charity, it is also the example of the proper Christian attitude towards those in need.

Those who watch the so-called "news" and read and listen to political "commentary" that suggests that all people on welfare or receiving some other government assistance, are "lazy bums that don't want to get a job", should realize they are being manipulated by propaganda. Your thoughts and feelings are being played upon, your heart is being hardened by envy.

And what is envy? Envy is not wanting what someone else has - that is called covetousness - envy is wanting someone to be deprived of what you think they don't deserve to have. Trying to make someone feel guilty for having something that you don't, is also envy.
Envy and Covetousness go hand in hand and is the root of a judgemental attitude.

There are certainly going to be those who take advantage of government assistance programs and anything they can get their hands on, but it is not for us to become self-appointed Inquisitors. It is for us to realize that everything we have - everything - we owe to God's Love and Goodness, and not just because we have worked for and earned it. Our work and effort certainly does count, but ultimately, everything belongs to God and He bestows what He wills on whom He wills. Our notion of what is "fair" is decidedly different from God's, as can be seen in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard:

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard , and whatever is right I will give you'. And they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.' So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.' And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they murmured against the landowner, saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' But he answered one of them and said, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?' So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen" (Matthew 20:1-16).

Stop feeding and corrupting your mind with the political trash the media dishes out.
Stop worrying about what other people have and whether or not they deserve it.
Do you love yourself enough to have a beer now and then? A steak? A smoke? Enjoy it then, and love your neighbor as yourself by not denying him the same just because he's on welfare.
Tend to your own house and your own work, whatever kind it may be.
Give a little money to the beggers and panhandlers on the street. Don't try to figure out why they are there and don't worry about what they're going to do with what you give them. Your attitude about what you do is just as important as what you do. If you do a good deed with a resentful or begrudging attitude, you lose your reward for doing it.

You should not feel guilty if you have more than others; neither should you begrudge others for having more than you.

Be Thankful - for all things and in all things. There is no other way to live a truly authentic Christian spiritual life.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Tale of Two Christianty's

"The best way to understand the cultural scenario is to realize that there are two different types of Christianity. One is a movement of people who want to live and be like Jesus. The other (and far more common, far more powerful) is a civil and political religion that is simply named Christianity. The civil political religion named Christianity is addicted to both political power and violence, and thus finds the message of Jesus offensive."

~Benjamin L. Corey

Mr. Corey makes an excellent point but I think he does not go far enough.

There are definitely two different types of Christianity in America - the authentic and the pseudo. I have tried to express this before, just using different terms. The "civil political religion named Christianity", as Mr. Corey puts it, is what I call the Ideological Christianity and it has two sides. Both sides will use politics, propaganda and even violence to gain power, just that they employ slightly different methods.

One side infuses the Christian Faith into national patriotism. The politics of this side will trend toward less government spending on social programs and more on industrial and military funding. It will favour more of the wrong kind of regulation and less of the right kind. When this side is in power long enough business and economy tends to be profitable but the poor suffer. The propaganda of this side will resonate with slogans of how America was founded as a Christian Nation and will champion a return to traditional moral values and Biblical principles. The violence of this side will usually take the form of political sanctions and or military action in foreign nations' affairs under the guise of promoting liberty & democracy and protecting America's interests and/or allies. It will also take the form of legislative action which results in the restriction of personal freedoms under the guise of providing for the domestic security of the American people. This ideology can be seen in many denominations and will use the Bible and the Church's Tradition to justify its ambitions and methods.

The other side of this "civil political religion named Christianity" infuses the Christian Faith into social democracy. The politics of this side will trend toward more government spending on social and environmental programs and less on military and industrial. It will favour more of the wrong kind of regulation and less of the right kind. When this side is in power long enough business and economy tends to be recessive and the poor still suffer. The propaganda of this side will resonate with slogans of social & economic equality & justice and will champion the cause of democracy and civil rights. The violence of this side will usually take the form of political sanctions and/or military actions in foreign nations' affairs under the guise of promoting liberty & democracy and the protection of human rights. It will also take the form of legislative action which results in the restriction of personal freedoms under the guise of serving the common good of the American people. This ideology is present in many denominations and will also use the Bible and the Church's Tradition to justify its ambitions and methods.

Infusing the Christian Faith into either of these ideologies/philosophies - or any permutation thereof - constitutes the same thing: a hijacking of the Classical Christian Faith and a distortion of what it means and looks like. There is no political/social ideology/philosophy that is compatible with the ancient and true Christian Faith; to try and make it so is to create a pseudo-Christianity. And in fact, the greater majority of what is perceived as Christianity by the modern culture is just that. 

There are, no doubt, many good-hearted, devout Christians who have been seduced by these ideologies through their sincere desire to set right what is wrong and make the world a better place. Certainly we have a responsibility to be good stewards of what has been given us and there are a lot of good things we can and should do. But we are not going to 'save the planet' or effect the outcome of history. 

If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders labour (Psalm 127).

The other type of Christianity, as Mr. Corey describes it "is a movement of people who want to live and be like Jesus". But what does this mean? I think it means different things to different people, depending on how they perceive the Person of Jesus and how they understand His teachings. For some it means accepting everyone in whatever way they self-identify, in whatever kinds of relationships they choose and in whatever sort of lifestyle they live, regardless of whether this conflicts with the entirety of Scripture and the Tradition. For others it means being a kind of moral crusader, going around pointing out people's sins. The motivation for both these attitudes is said to be love. For the former, love = non-judgmentalism; for the latter, love = converting sinners. But both miss the mark, both mis-characterize the Person of Jesus, His teachings, and especially love. The defining character of love is that it is sacrificial. Jesus showed us what that looks like in His sacrifice of Himself on the Cross, and His teachings, rightly understood, reveal the same thing.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8).

To "live and be like Jesus" means to sacrifice, to empty ourselves - of our will, our desires, our opinions, our feelings - and bear whatever crosses these bring to us, patiently, humbly, without complaining. Along with this is regarding all people as being worthy of love and salvation and forgive everyone, for everything, all the time. This must be our attitude and our actions must reflect it. Does this mean that we are to say nothing about anything? Of course not. But we must be very discerning in what we say and especially how we say it. Speaking the truth in love is only possible by grace.

None of this requires a political ideology or philosophy, nor can it be enhanced or improved by adopting one. Yes, we live in the world and we are constantly confronted with its issues and problems. But to become so caught up in it that our emotions are inflamed when we see something on television and we have to run to the social networks and talk about it, or even worse, run out into the streets and protest it, then we have given in to passion and allowed ourselves to be distracted from living and being like Jesus.

Jesus never told His disciples (and by extension, us as well) to solve the world's problems or to be social/political activists. He told them to watch and pray lest they fall into temptation. Allowing political ideologies/philosophies to influence and inform our Faith is a temptation of the Adversary. God does not need Conservative or Progressive Christians, Democrat, Republican or Libertarian Christians. He desires true disciples of Jesus Christ who hear the Word of God and keep it.

In political matters, I believe we should give only the necessary amount of attention to make a conscientious decision of how to vote - if we decide to vote - and if there is something we can actually, practically and personally do to help someone, do that. 

In all else watch and pray, 
work and pray, 
do what is right, 
love what is good, 
and walk humbly with God.