In bringing the subject of religious oppression to a wider audience, I didn't
want to kick the Catholic Church but to poke a finger in the throat of theocracy
and to let it be known that people shouldn't tolerate this anymore." - Peter Mullan
"Either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life,
or else we shall never find him." - St. Josemaria Eseriva
I apologize for my inattention to this site. My wife and I have just returned from a very long two week vacation where we travelled and visited many states, their historical & cultural sites, cities, and community events throughout Virginia, Maryland, and the Atlantic coast. In our travels we visited Jefferson's Monticello and walked the length and breadth of Washington D.C.'s memorials and institutions reminding ourselves once again what America's charter of responsible liberties must mean to our society and world. And when these are rejected to learn first-hand of the horrors of destruction and evil when personal liberties go unobserved as was found when visiting the Civil War cities of Richmond, Petersburg, Gettysburg, the grave sites at Arlington, and the Holocaust Museum.
However, we also discovered thriving ecosystems and communities dedicated to keeping their wildlife preserves and national refuges healthy, green, and flourishing. We swam in the clean waters of the ocean, crossed its many bays and rivers, and felt the commerce of communities trying to figure out the most responsible forms of government, industry, and society with one another. But we also saw the vast interiors of our country struggling with their own remnants of once-glorious days where industry and services were fewer and far between. Where industry once had been in the coal mining towns of the Alleganies and now closed forcing townships and local communities to recreate themselves. Perhaps through a renewed dedication to agriculture and clean water, to the land, to their history, to creating a bit of Eden hidden from the world at large. In our travels we observed much, talked to as many as we could, and learned from each their hopes and dreams and aspirations.
We are now back home and in the month ahead I will attempt to catch up where I had left off several weeks ago. In the meantime I would encourage readers to read through the many sidebars I've worked on over the years on hundreds of topics devoted to a progressive, humanitarian, postmodern outlook of the world, the church, its doctrines, and ourselves.
The Next Chapter
For myself, as well as for other Christians and non-Christians alike, I am interested in pursuing a Christianity that is contemporary, post-modern, and progressive. It must be Jesus-centered as much as I am able to discern what that compass means - and not centered in our beliefs about the bible or our doctrines emphasizing God's glory and judgments over His love and reconciliation of mankind. Our understanding of God's grace, love, and forgiveness must fill all our churches and their personal creeds and confessions without threatening unbelievers with authoritarian promises of divine wrath, judgment, and hell. For myself, as for many others, God is a God of love. Not a God of wrath and judgment. A God who reconciles and redeems. Not a God who separates and divides wheat from tare, sheep from goat, righteous from unrighteous. Nay, sin and evil does this separating, even sinful man, not God.
And it is this observation that the gospels make and not the incorrect teachings that God does this. He has given the world the gift of free will by decree. He will not control our free will. It is a free will that is the exact copy of His own free will. Which means He cannot interfere with our choices should we chose the darker sides of our natures that are not freeing. Not recreating. But what God can do is actively guide us towards making better choices; who can aide us in directing us to the free will gifts of others willing to help, heal, counsel, and provide; who can open up opportunities of nurture and nourishment from earth's bounty; who leads us unto green pastures and still waters of His blessings and away from the wastelands of our baser wants and needs. God is a nourishing, enriching, empowering God of creation and re-creation. This picture of God is vastly different from the church's fractured picture of a God dedicated to wrath and judgment. Dedicated to hell and anger. And how do we know that God is a God of love and forgiveness? Because He came and died for our sins and empowerment of recreation. He did not come to divide and "cleanse." He is a God of example as much as the Almighty God of Life and Light. He has given us Himself by right of creation and is dedicated to redeeming a world fallen unto its own depravities. A world refusing His grace gifts of beauty and wonder. This is the God I know and wish to tell of.
A Fractured World
As an American citizen, our political season this year and last (2015-2016: Trump v. Clinton) has tested the church in the areas of who and what God is, wants, and does. The media is filled with the harsh, unloving, and divisive political speeches by some of our more popular candidates for election who have demonstrated in their speech how far astray our society has come from God's ways and means. A God who is driven by love and mercy not judgment and war, not discrimination and racism, not inequality and oppression. When the church is on the wrong side of these issues the people of God must cry out and say "NO!" We cannot go in these directions regardless the nominee, the party, or the platforms! And so, I've have been spending a lot of time politicizing the gospel in its humanitarian outreach to the world. Not here at Relevancy22 but on Facebook where friends and family must be tested in their beliefs and outlooks during these incorrigible times.
For it seems our postmodern world has a few hard choices to make. Yesteryear's establishment politics has been rejected in favor of moving either more to the left - from humanitarian liberalism to (forced societal) neo-liberalism. Or more to the right - from responsible fiscal conservatism to radical (oppressive) conservatism. Each extreme end is radical in its own way even as each forces choices of bondage and oppression through deceptive political policies and ideas which stray from the foundations of America's political charters. Charters which are being worked out by each generation as to their reach and meaning. Imperfect at first, but refining as they go, as American society learns to accept the blending of new races, languages, and cultures into its own images of itself.
The choices of neo-liberalism's socialism from the left, and radical conservatism's fascism on the right, are neither acceptable nor compatible with Amerca's constitutional charters. A republic which is being tested once again in its liberal democracies dedicated to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights (and Magna Carta, in general), and its Jeffersonian principles, to name but a few. A democracy learning to re-envision what these basic charters of government must mean for today's postmodern world. And why these charters are important documents for today's citizens, immigrants, foreigners, and overseas relationships.
Political Choices in the Face of Inhumanity
Does America move to a position of isolationism or to a position of responsible global leadership? And if the latter, than how does it withdraw from its past policies of use and abuse of other nations, their national resources, and their peoples, in its need for energy, food, clothing, and housing? Of an ever-guarded war-mindedness constantly making enemies of nations in their titanic struggles to be released from their own bondages, servitudes, holocausts, and inhumanities. We, as the world, have some very difficult choices to make and it is my opinion, along with many others - whether Christian or not - that Jesus' example of love and mercy must become front-and-center if we are to move forward as a world dedicated to the basic democratic principles of liberty, justice, and equality for all.
And so, I have spent this past year focusing on the political consequences of Jesus words to His church, and to mankind, in what it means for a holy God to reconcile the world to Himself using the principles of love, mercy, forgiveness, and hope. I think it means that we must do a far better job at listening to one another; respecting each other's beliefs and convictions; learning to cooperate with one another in healthy ways of personal and societal re-creation; and especially refusing to threaten each other with deceptive fears, lies, and misrepresentations.
If a "postmodern" world is to survive - one where we listen and cooperate with one another - than it must survive from its oppressive extremes, societal fears, cultural prejudices, callous uncaring lifestyles, and selfish preoccupations. This is what "post-postmodernism" means. One where fear and oppression lives and governs - whether from the radical left or the radical right. It is a people or society dedicated to a government where democracy has failed in its consitutional charters and political rights and is replaced by interpretive (or revised) policies of protectionism, isolationism, and global oppression, with the misuse-and-abuse of power that comes with these extreme political ends.
Now is the Time to Choose For Humanity Not Against It
So I think that God has brought us to this time of national and societal reconciliation. Where we must learn how to behave ourselves towards one another across our continents and many political spectrums. Our choices are to continue i) the world's past 2000 years of nationalism and bondage in the "Christian era" or, ii) the past 4000 years of civilization's struggle to steal, kill, and discriminate between social classes in the "World History" era. Perhaps, these many millenias of sin and evil have led us to the choices today of whether to continue its inhuman oppressions or to begin healing a fractured world yearning for liberty and justice.
Since God has sacrificed Himself to make redemption possible than it is time in our lives to make choices towards living humanely with one another by observing the best of ourselves and not the worse of ourselves. If not, we re-live the pages of the book of Revelation over and over and over, again and again and again. Our inhuman apocalypse is the living Hell we read of, fear, endure, and experience through societal tragedies and inhumanities towards one another. But if Jesus is to come into our societies as promised by the Apostle John to make all things right than we must believe that He has already come and empowered humanity through Jesus' death on the cross. This was the beginning point. It is a point of hope as much as it is a point of reconciliation.
And that it is left to us, the (radical) church, and to those penitents outside the church, who must ride Jesus' white horse of judgment and healing into our Ages of destruction and evil. That we have a choice to grant freedom and justice to one another or to ignore these principles altogether while continuing in our oppressive wars with one another. Whether we continue in our unChrist-like doctrines and beliefs that God is a God of War and not a God or Love. Believing God is a God who divides and conquers as we have done as nations to one another for centuries. Thus making of God an Idol after our own craven image. Or whether God is a God who heals and binds up the wounds of neighbor and stranger. Who comes to provide justice to the oppress; freedom to those chained in bondage; liberty and life to the destitute, poor, homeless, and forgotten.
The Choices We Must Make
My God is this latter and not the fractured God of the former. It is this God I, and others, testify of in the blog pages of our progressive and humanitarian writings of what it means to be a true Christian centered in love, mercy and forgiveness. A God who is rich in the graces of selfless servitude to the help of others desperately seeking love and mercy. Seeking housing, clothing, food, water, medicines, wholeness, and re-creation of ruined ecosystems. It is this God - and these people of God - whom we must be committed to however we think of God in our many beliefs and religions. In our many names of God or many observances of nature's highest principles of humanitarianism.
And finally, I think, we have come to this time in world history that as nations we must make the choice to work and live together with one another in responsible, societally-recreative ways. Where the watchwords are cooperation, tolerance, respect, and selfless service towards one another. If not, we will continue this dehumanizing and ungodly cycle of destruction resulting in the destruction not only of ourselves but of our ecosystem. And when these occur our end has come. Ingloriously. Pathetically. Inhumanely. Because we have rejected our humanity for its inhumanity. Rejected our Creator for something unlike His image. Rejected our future of peace and hope for war and ruin. Religion can do that to people. Especially religions based upon seeing only themselves, their ways, and their beliefs as more important than the life-and-breath of others. It is called oppression. Its called societal suicide. And any religion dedicated to oppression is a wicked thing. Not holy. But wicked.
August 13, 2016