Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Obama the Christian radical

Dear Hannah,

One of the most frustrating characters in all of Christian history is Jesus, and mostly because you're never really sure whether to take His statements practically.  It might be fairly argued that He was never meant to be taken practically, and that an uncomfortable portion of His sermons were meant to make us humble.  It could be that after all the talk about poking your own eyes out, what He was really trying to prove is that perfection (for you and I) is impossible, and that Christian living is entirely beyond us -- that it might even be suicidal, if we were to take it seriously.  Taken in this sense, the Sermon on the Mount may not be a sermon about behavior.  It may be an attempt to get us to cry "uncle" and ask for forgiveness.


This doesn't mean that Christians have ever taken it this way.  The funny (or maybe dangerous) thing about religion is that people tend to want to take it religiously -- which means that they often want to take it literally.  And so when Jesus says things like "you have to turn the other cheek," we wonder whether there was ever a time when we shouldn't.  We wonder if there was ever any other response which might be considered Christian -- if not in the sensible majority's opinion, then in God's.  And this Biblical literalism, this taking every little thing that Jesus said and making it seem like the only thing that He ever said, tends to make Christians imbalanced in their piety.  It makes us so imbalanced that we think men like President Obama must be Muslims for the way they treat Muslims, when the obvious fact is that men like President Obama are very obviously trying to be radical Christians.

Contrary to the American perspective, which is that radical Christians can only be Baptists with weapons, history has furnished a hundred examples of radical Christians, and nearly all of them have been dangerous.  There's really only one thing you can safely take radically in Christianity, and that is that Jesus Christ died for your sins and He's coming back to judge the world and you had better (personally) live like it.  Any radicalization beyond this causes lots of horrible problems.  And this is because radicalization forces you to idolize some particular aspect of Christianity so exclusively, that you begin to forget about all the other ones. And we have to remember that there are a lot of particular aspects to idolize, because Christianity is extremely complex and vibrant -- like life.

For instance, the Judaizers took portions of the Old Testament so seriously, they ended up forgetting about the purpose of the Gospel; and the anti-nomians became so obsessed with the Gospel, that they forgot about the obviously moral portions of the Law.  The Gnostics and the Manichees and Franciscans focused so much on the purity of the soul that they made everyone miserable about having a body; and the preachers of the wealth Gospel focus so much on the glorification of the body that they've forgotten about the purification of the soul.  The Jesuits took the authority of the Catholic Church so seriously that they threw aside every moral objection to its advancement and became the world's worst casuists.  The Dominicans believed in orthodoxy and doctrine so seriously that they became some of the world's most intolerant persecutors.  The Calvinists were so bent on the sovereignty of God that many of them forgot about the agency of men; and the Arminians were so bent on the agency of man that they almost forgot about the sovereignty of God.  Anyone can be a radical on practically anything worth fighting for (and I think we can agree that everyone above was fighting for something essential to the Christian church).  The question is not whether we take our truths seriously -- or even whether we take them religiously.  The question is what we do with the other truths.

People are very quick to say that half a truth makes a lie.  What they have been slow to admit is that a halfish version of Christianity makes our behavior unChristian.  And if we examine Obama's presidency, we find him almost entirely erring in the same lopsided direction.  He values charity (or some bastardized form of it) so wildly, he's almost forgotten there are more than one kind of person to be charitable to.  He values non-judgmentalism (or some wildly perverted version of it) so totally, he's forgotten how to condemn evil.  He values the foreigner and the outcast and the minority so much, he's forgotten to love the rest of us.  He takes that saying of Paul's, that there is no law against love, and ruins his love by making it lawless.

If Obama had only been a decent Catholic he would know there are virtues alongside our charity; and he would know that the reason there isn't a law against love is because there is another virtue "against" it  And when we balance charity with prudence, we begin not to question charity itself, but to question whether our charity is effective.  A prudent charity is the difference between taking an orphan into your home and giving all your family's money to the bum on the street; it asks us whether our love is sustainable -- proper -- timely.  It asks whether there are other people affected by our decisions.  It asks whether we throw everything away on the moment, or whether we invest it for a greater purpose; and whether there are times to risk everything, or times for self-preservation.  It acknowledges Paul's statement that there is no law against love, and it balances it with he who will not work shall not eat.  It hears Christ's calling to love our enemy, and then contrasts it with Solomon's there is a time and a place to everything under the sun.

And you can see the effects of Obama's terrible charity in everything from the homosexualization and feminization of our military, to the extensiveness and unsustainability of our welfare programs, to his weakness against our national enemies, to his opening of our border and his approval of mass-infanticide.  Everything he does is done with the intent of "loving" his neighbors -- and we are almost all paying for it, because he's forgotten to love the rest of us.  He sees the minority suffering, and so he alleviates it by causing the majority to suffer injustice.  And he does it out of Christian sincerity -- which contrary to popular opinion makes him all the more dangerous.

Christianity has often been called a force for good; but we would do better to just recognize it as a force in general.  The energy of piety and religious conviction may be used to build a great and holy nation like it did with the Puritans, or it can be used to demolish economies and welcome rapists and terrorists like it does with our Democrats.  Christianity is a beautiful religion; and because it is beautiful, it is dangerous.  It causes us to fall so in love with heavenly ideals, that it leads us to mismanage our earthly affairs.  Our passionate ignorance eats nations alive, and it comforts itself that at least we'll be getting into heaven -- by making the greatest civilizations in the world into a living hell.

Your father,
-J

1 comment:

  1. Obama's Christianity, if he has ever actually affirmed his association with Jesus, is that of a child who desperately wants mommy and daddy to give all they have to that poor man on the street. A truly Christian child (as we wish Obama would at least act like) would reach into his own pockets to give the man a nickel for that was all he, not someone else, had to give. Obama thinks it's his to give away while his hands are in your pockets.

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