Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Comments on the Inaugeration of Obama

In St. Augustine's City of God, Chapter 1, Augustine refers to the sacking of the city of Rome by the West-Gothic King Alaric in 410 AD. He was the most humane of the barbaric invaders and conquerors of Rome, and had embraced Arian Christianity. Augustine asks a question, "Are not those very Romans, who were spared by the barbarians through their respect for Christ, become enemies to the name of Christ? " He asks this because the invaders spared those who went inside churches. The Catholic churches were a sanctuary from harm.

"Thus escaped multitudes who now reproach the Christian religion, and impute to Christ the ills that have befallen their city; but the preservation of their own life—a boon which they owe to the respect entertained for Christ by the barbarians—they attribute not to our Christ, but to their own good luck. They ought rather, had they any right perceptions, to attribute the severities and hardships inflicted by their enemies, to that divine providence which is wont to reform the depraved manners of men by chastisement, and which exercises with similar afflictions the righteous and praiseworthy,—either translating them, when they have passed through the trial, to a better world, or detaining them still on earth for ulterior purposes. And they ought to attribute it to the spirit of these Christian times, that, contrary to the custom of war, these bloodthirsty barbarians spared them, and spared them for Christ’s sake, whether this mercy was actually shown in promiscuous places, or in those places specially dedicated to Christ’s name, and of which the very largest were selected as sanctuaries, that full scope might thus be given to the expansive compassion which desired that a large multitude might find shelter there."
I see a parallel here with the American economy and issues most dear to the religious right. The way the mainstream media is catastrophizing, you would think the Goths were at our door. Perhaps they are right. Conservatives are joining this chorus of doom and gloom. Are we really on the verge of becoming a socialist nation? If this doesn't happen in the Obama administration, I think we are getting close to the brink. As in any crisis, the fingers are pointing in many directions is typical blame game stuff.

It seems to me, the religious right is blaming the pagan secular humanists, while the irreligious left is blaming the Christians. History is repeating itself. I think we can learn some things from Augustine's defense of Christianity.

"Therefore ought they to give God thanks, and with sincere confession flee for refuge to His name, that so they may escape the punishment of eternal fire—they who with lying lips took upon them this name, that they might escape the punishment of present destruction. For of those whom you see insolently and shamelessly insulting the servants of Christ, there are numbers who would not have escaped that destruction and slaughter had they not pretended that they themselves were Christ’s servants. Yet now, in ungrateful pride and most impious madness, and at the risk of being punished in everlasting darkness, they perversely oppose that name under which they fraudulently protected themselves for the sake of enjoying the light of this brief life."

Leftists are saying that conservatives should gladly subscribe to redistribution of wealth. They say that capitalists are too greedy, and that is the reason for the collapse of the financial institutions. In their book, Christians are homophobic and are holding women back if the pro-lifers restrict abortion. Leftists say defending our country from terrorists through the Patriot Act is dangerous to our freedoms. Totalitarianism is just around the corner. All would be well if not for the Christians telling them what to do.

The financial conservatives accuse the liberals of stealing their paychecks with higher taxes that are being redistributed to welfare recipients. The religious right points the finger at the secular humanists for the decline in morality, high divorce rate, unwed pregnancy, higher STDs, and high rate of abortion. The Right blames this on the ban on public school prayer, the removal of religion from the public square due to the protests of atheists. Armegedon is just around the corner. God will punish our pagan country, so we better shape up.

Who is right? That is something we cannot know for sure now. History will tell us someday. What does seem clear is that catastrophizing is keeping us from the unity we need to deal with the mess our country is in. Pagans blaming Christians, and Christians blaming Pagans will accomplish nothing.

When one points the finger at others, remember three fingers are pointing back toward the accuser.

Instead of despair about the Inaugeration of Obama, Christians need to get to work to make the country a better place, a City of God, in spite of the leftists pagans ignoring how they benefit from the Christian's moral imperative to love one's neighbor. It should be obvious, after numerous bankruptcies, foreclosures, bail outs, the failure of the Madoff Ponzi scheme and the fall of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, that capitalism is dependent on morality, yet it is not obvious to enough of us. Pagans want morality in business, but free reign in sexual behavior. This inconsistency is laughable, but ignored. We need to point it out whether the mainstream media does or not. Conversion doesn't happen overnight. They need to be warned that those who "perversely oppose that name" [Christ] and are "enjoying the light of this brief life" will be dealt with in the hereafter. Reaching out to them is being merciful, but be prepared to turn the other cheek.

The Roman pagans trusted their gods to protect them, but ran to church when their gods failed to do that. Despite my great fear of what the Obama administration will do, I will not put my trust in the United States government. I hope you will join me in getting down on the knees to pray for our country. I know who my Messiah is. I know where my true home is.