Friday, October 4, 2013

Reactionaries and Relationships

Marcus Grodi has written a reflective post on Pope Francis and the need to convey Christ through a living relationship of love.  My reflections on it follow ...

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In 1980, when Jimmy Carter decided we should boycott the summer Olympics to protest the Soviet action in Afghanistan, a friend of mine called this decision "neurotic".

I asked him what he meant by that.

"We are fooling ourselves if we think that by removing ourselves from human contact anything good will come.  Only by relationships, and only in reality, does man attain sanity and health.  We can't change the Soviets if we don't do simple things like play games with them."

Of course, a case could indeed be made for the decision as a political strategy, but the point is this: when we become reactionary and pull away from contact, we harm ourselves and others.  Isolation is never good - unless it's a kind of retreat or hermitage for the sake of prayer (prayer itself prevents us from being isolated from God, and from others).

We live in a world that is more and more hostile to us.  We live in a Church that has neglected basic human decency (in the case of the abuse scandals) and in many cases has abandoned the very God it claims to serve.

It is very tempting to pull away, to build a bunker and narrow down our worldviews, to form the perfect Church or the perfect world, even if it's only in our minds.  Either way, such perfectionism, however "devout" it might be, is another form of Unreality.  And Unreality, as I've been writing lately (especially here and here), is always anti-Christian and always eventually produces a hell on earth.

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And speaking of hell, and the man many of you consider to be Satan - we now learn that even President Obama says he admires Pope Franics!  Of course, he won't immediately convert and become pro-life ... but imagine a dialogue between the Bishop of Rome and the President of the United States.  Pope Francis has been in dialogue with an atheist - why not with Obama?

And even though Obama and the Democrats spin Francis as if he were saying abortion and perversion were OK (which he's not), Obama actually gets it (at least to a point)

He said the Pope was "first and foremost thinking about how to embrace people as opposed to push them away. How to find what's good in them as opposed to condemn them."

That is exactly and precisely correct.

Yes, we must always preach the first words of Jesus after His ministry began ...

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)

... for repentance from sin is part of the good news - but it starts with care and concern for another person.  It starts with love.  And that's the good news - love.

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There are people in my life I haven't spoken with in years - deliberately.  There are people who get mad at me and shut me out, and there are people I get mad at and shut out.  But that's not Christian - fun though such self-righteous indignation might be, that's not Christian.  Yes, there are times when it would be dangerous or somehow sinful to have an ongoing relationship with someone - but to write another person off entirely (no matter what that person has done or who he is) is to dehumanize, to erase an image of Christ in your midst.  And usually we can communicate without the danger of hurting or being hurt, of sinning or being sinned against.  Usually we are simply feeding our pride when we expel and cut off; usually it's not for the sake of healing but for the sake of vengeance or shame.

If you are boycotting another person, the way we sometimes boycott the Olympics, think again.  If you have isolated yourself from him or her, reconsider.  Friendship may not be possible, but contact is always human, always good, and the only avenue by which one heart might change another - and by which our hearts may conform to His.


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