Christianity 911

By Ladson F. Mills III
Special to VIRTUEONLINE
www.virtueonline.org
Walker Percy in his novel The Second Coming describes present-day Christians as nominal, lukewarm and hypocritical or if fervent, generally offensive or fanatical; but not crazy. He sees the present day-unbeliever as being all of these things and crazy as well. Percy may have identified the root cause of our cultural insanity. A society left to its own devices without a sane moral compass is destined to implode. The world today is in desperate need of the Christian Gospel.

The two candidates for President of the United States are just the latest reflection of the mounting insanity. One is reckless with national security and has told so many lies that she can no longer keep them straight. The alternative’s reckless, bombastic, rhetoric scares even his supporters and has produced more unforced errors than the 1962 New York Mets Baseball Team. (Sorry Mets fans) As the cartoon Shoe recently pointed out the choice is not between the lesser of the two evils but the evil of the two lessers.

Perhaps the most despicable example was the manner in which both political conventions paraded families who have lost children defending the country in order to attack the other candidate. Then both cried foul at the push back.

As a father who has watched his son go to war three times I cannot fathom the pain if he had not come home. But I know exploitation when I see it. I also learned a long time ago that whenever a public stance is taken there will be others who think differently and will quickly make their displeasure known. In the vernacular don’t give what you are unwilling to take.

Some years ago in my role as a Navy Chaplain I stood over the grave of Marine Corporal Rusty Washam who had been killed in Iraq three days after his 21st birthday. He left behind a wife, two children and devastated parents.

Scott County, Tennessee, home of Brushy Mountain State Prison, which gained fame for housing the convicted killer of Martin Luther King, Jr., is rough country. But not on the day I was there. The entire county had turned out to honor Rusty Washam. There were firetrucks with giant American Flags and flashing signs that said We love you, Rusty. I suspect county officials felt no need seek permission to close schools or public offices. They closed and came.

His two bother’s, one a soldier wounded the previous year and another an Air Force Sergeant were there. Every local official was present to pay respects including the Marine Corps Staff Sergeant who had recruited Rusty. It may have been the largest funeral I ever attended.

But I can tell you who was not present that day. There were no Senators, Congressman, or candidates for national political office. But this is an election year and grieving families make powerful photo opportunities.

We live in an age of the continual election cycle. Depending upon which politician is speaking we are only one election away from total destruction or utopia. And of course our personal check will make the difference. If an army travels on its stomach the American politician travels on our wallets.

University of Delaware sociologist H. T. Reynolds observed the important issues that face Congress never come to any point of decision but are more likely to be stalemated rather resolved… the American public has been reduced to the role of passive spectators cheering the heroes and booing the villains, but taking little or no direct part in the action…increasingly alienated and estranged from politics…

Inside the beltway commentators admit that unlike the past there is no motivation for investigation into scandals. National political leaders are held in such low repute the public is no longer outraged by their behavior.

It has become very popular to label anyone challenging political correctness as a Nazi. Conveniently overlooked is Stalinism which was known for its rewriting of history and the altering of inconvenient facts.

Joseph Stalin perfected the practice of removing evidence of those who dared to hold alternative opinions. Official photos removed the offender’s image. Books were altered to reflect Stalin’s official version of history. As one historian noted there came a time when his was the only version of history remaining

Today we remove statues and flags because they remind us of our failings. Instead of celebrating and building on progress we punish people for reaching the right conclusions.

Christianity is the only alternative to where the world is heading, because it is the only place where there can be no reconciliation without repenting. It is the only place that can frame divisions in a way that is redemptive. It will be difficult because we are failing the culture that we have been called to transform.

Former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman is a devout Orthodox Jew. During his Vice-Presidential campaign in 2000 he was asked if his religion was a detriment in the Christian Evangelical South. He responded that the emerging divisions were no longer over denominations or religion but between people of faith and those with none.

Keith Ward, retired Regius Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford addressed this issue in his book, God, Faith & The New Millennium. He proposes seven areas of framework which include: cooperate for good with all who are committed to the pursuit of truth, beauty and goodness, however different the paths we follow… Christians should be clear, however, that universal salvation of all-if they do not finally reject God- through their coming to share in Christ and the Spirit, does not depend on the Church becoming universally dominant, as though one could only be saved within the Church…All that is required is that is required is that the distinctive witness of the Church turn out to be true.

During the 1994 conference on The Church in a Violent Society sponsored by the Washington Cathedral, panelist George Stephanopoulos, then senior advisor the President Clinton for policy and strategy, stated government cannot be the sole answer, but it can be a partner.

Twenty years later that same government no longer ask for partnership. It has proven itself incapable of doing anything.

It is time for Christianity 911.

Ladson F. Mills III is a priest with over thirty year’s pastoral experience. He is retired and lives with his wife in South Carolina. He currently serves as Scholar in Residence at the Church of Our Saviour, Johns Island. He is a regular contributor to VIRTUEONLINE.

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