Shifting symptoms, lingering diseases

Perhaps all Christians need a local-yokel Nobel-prize winning Theravada Buddhist to chase them back to their Jesus freak roots – especially when she’s neither yokel nor local.  Take me.  I’ve been reading and re-reading a paragraph from Aung San Suu Kyi’s Freedom From Fear: “A revolution which aims merely at changing official policies and institutions with a view to an improvement in material conditions has little chance of genuine success.  Without a revolution of the spirit, the forces which produced the iniquities of the old order would continue to be operative, posing a constant threat to the process of reform and regeneration.”

Snap!  A psychological-spiritual window shade flies up and rap-rap-rap-rap-raps.  Light floods the room.  We see the truth of our intuitions:  Our supposedly sophisticated political discussion barely scratches the surface.  We’re hollering about the ice burg’s tip, the ocean’s surface, the thin crust on the lava sea.  I see the reason for my own frustration: I’ve been a reluctant political commentator, chased into the fray because a shrill fringe has led many in my branch of Christianity astray.  I must engage.  But politics can coo words like “relevant” and “practical” and seduce us from the truly significant:  “Luxuriate in oblique spiritual banter later; be realistic now.”  The “realistic now” never ends and the time for “luxury” never arrives – and a sneaking suspicion loiters: Political reform without spiritual renewal is like taking aspirin for cancer.  The pain relief doesn’t cure the metastasizing disease.

America’s incivility betrays a deep spiritual malady, with no faction immune.  I saw symptoms galore when I visited several churches a year ago: Political views not anchored in the Bible were lifted as “prophetic words.”  There was slander and subtle racism (would anyone level unfounded accusations of Muslim terrorism at a white president?).  Snip-snip.  Much of the Bible lay on the cutting room floor.  I was repulsed.  I found myself wandering among so-called “progressive Christians.”  It was refreshing at first, but soon those tell-tale symptoms paraded in a different guise: all pro-lifers hate women; advocates of traditional sexual morality are bigoted and homophobic (my homosexual friends, thank God, understand the difference between disagreement and disrespect); and any talk of Heaven or the “afterlife” meets a blank stare.  We don’t discuss that.  We’re “relevant” now.

Read full post here.

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