I am temporarily shorn of hope; hence this lamentation.
The reason this U.S. presidential election is much, much bigger than a win/lose contest is that it is, at its heart, a spiritual issue with global consequences.
Here’s what I think today [the day after the 2004 U.S. presidential election]:
Because we in the U.S. have embraced the ways of the Enemy [by approving our government’s use of deception/fear/violence], we have become the enemy of the world.
We have chosen not to excise the cancer of fear afflicting us, and by this choice we have exchanged <bubble-headed?>the godly ideals we once held as Americans </bubble-headed?> for the Enemy’s secrecy and deception, anger and retribution, hate and oppression.
All our choices have consequences, individual and national, and because we the people are responsible this time for this outcome, the consequences will soon roll. Here begins the tribulation (in the very real literal sense: a time of “great affliction, trial, or distress; suffering,” “an experience that tests one’s endurance, patience, or faith”).
Earlier this week a friend reminded me of Jesus’ imagery in Matthew as he charges the teachers of the law and Pharisees:
You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
Those in the Church who are dwelling on, and enraged by, individual issues like abortion, homosexuality, evolution, and “liberals” (as if liberal is a bad thing), with all due respect I say to you that you, too, are straining for gnats while swallowing a camel: the Religious Right worldview. For years to come you’ll be passing fœtid camel chunks while the gnats swarm.
The Church in America has failed her Lord because she has not taught her members to recognize counterfeit spirituality.
What is counterfeit spirituality? It’s spirituality that sounds good but leads to results that oppose God’s will.
- Is killing 10,000s of innocent men, women, and children God’s will?
- Is accusing an entire people of being an imminent threat when they aren’t, also known as “bearing false witness,” God’s will?
- Is favoring the wealthy at the expense of the poor God’s will?
- Is igniting war in the name of the Prince of Peace God’s will?
- Is plundering God’s good creation God’s will?
- Is blaming others for one’s own mistakes God’s will?
- Is being arrogant and haughty, either personally or nationally, God’s will?
- Is being spendthrift and reckless God’s will?
- Is loading our children and grandchildren with an unpayable debt, for all intents and purposes a generational curse, God’s will?
- Is forcing millions into poverty and hopelessness God’s will?
- Is living in fear God’s will, when God’s representives throughout scripture are constantly saying “fear not”? When John asserts that “perfect love casts out fear”?
- Is mocking study, learning, thinking, planning (in short, wisdom) God’s will?
- Is lauding any man and his ways over the Lord and his ways God’s will?
- Is divisiveness instead of unity God’s will?
We have a responsibility to recognize counterfeit spirituality, then to (1) not fall for it and (2) not propagate it.
Counterfeit spirituality is worse than no particular spirituality at all, I think, as evidenced by Jesus condemning the Pharisees while hanging out with prostitutes and tax collectors.
The Pharisees were sincere, but they were sincerely wrong. They were resolute — according to scripture, clear through to killing him — but their resolution scored them no points with Jesus.
I think endorsing counterfeit spirituality [as the Christian Right has] damages the kingdom of God because presenting as truthful and good that which God opposes [war, ignorance, greed] is misrepresenting God. The consequence is millions turn away in disgust, some forever, thinking our misrepresentation presents God as God is.
If “by their fruit you will recognize them,” what does our fruit — America’s results in the world — say about us? What are we being recognized as? Ambassadors of godly virtue or unthinking, arrogant warmongers?
Morally, how can anyone say ends justify means when the means are repugnant and the ends are catastrophes?
I’m left to infer that God, in his wisdom, recognizes that to bring us to repentance, we’re going to have to be allowed to suffer, else we will keep ignoring him, keep disobeying him, keep misrepresenting his son — by those of us called Christian — as Lord of War instead of Prince of Peace. I think we may be therefore entering our exile to Babylon, not just our children [being sent to die in Babylon, aka Iraq], but all of us.
Don McLean’s lovely version of Babylon, based on Psalm 137, keeps looping in my brain (listen, and weep):
By the waters, the waters of Babylon
We lay down and wept, and wept, for thee, Zion
We remember thee, remember thee, remember thee, Zion
Ah, ah, America, land that I love, I’m sorry we have forsaken you.
I’m probably about to go silent for a while. Peace to you.
[2004-11-04: edited to add section on counterfeit spirituality that came to me in a dream]
QotD: Can an Ichthus symbol and a W sticker coexist on a car bumper without tearing the fabric of the universe? (I think not.)