Friday, April 3, 2015

Did You Hear?

“Did you hear?”

“Did you hear?”

Everyone greeted everyone else with the same question, “Did you hear?”

“He has been defeated!  Laid low!  The champion of the enemy has fallen!”

For as long as I could remember, our enemy had oppressed us.  We had been driven from our rightful homes, exiled and outcast.  Our own king had treated with the usurper king before, always to return disappointed.  Princes we may have been, but princes cast out of our kingdom wielding only that authority that came with strength.  

The usurper king had been hounding us, attacking us since time immemorial.  Now, his champion had fallen at last.  Our other victories had been fleeting; this victory would not be.  Our king had struck down his champion at last – the grave claimed the one who was supposed to be our destroyer.

“Did you hear?”

“Did you hear?”

Now, not only was the champion laid low, but the usurper king’s plans fallen apart.  While the champion was preparing – while he looked like he would win – he had gathered followers.  The followers were given power beyond their station.  They were even ceded some of the usurper’s authority to wield against us.

Now, with the champion defeated, his followers were scattered.  They fled from us, and from those who served us.  While the champion had been with them, they were brave lions.  Now, they were curs, cowering from the hand which would strike them.

As we had feared for generation upon generation, we let them fear.  They fled, and we laughed.  For once it was we who had the power and the authority!  They could suffer in shameful indignity as we had suffered.

“Did you hear?”

“Did you hear?”

The question had a different tone, now.  Something had gone wrong – terribly wrong.  

“What did you say?  Empty?  How can a grave be empty?”

“Surely this is some joke.”

“It must be a misunderstanding.”

Slowly the news percolated through us all.  The champion’s grave was empty.  Where had he gone?  What had happened?  Our servants had sworn he would be watched!

“NO! IT CANNOT BE!” the voice of our king cried across the barren wastes which had been our prison for so long.  “I DEFEATED HIM! I STRUCK HIM DOWN! NO!”

What is this?  What is this blinding light?  It burns!  The agony!  WHAT IS THIS!?

No!  It can’t be the champion!  He is dead!  We saw the act!  

The light! Oh, Great Lucifer!  The light burns!  Bring back the darkness!  

What is this sound?  Like bells and trumpets; it assaults my ears.  Bring back the violent cacophony!

“Very well,” the words are almost a whisper, but they pierce my ears like a knife, “If that is what you wish, your will be done.”

The light is gone.  The screeching and wailing return.  Darkness rules over our home; our refuge.

“Did you hear?”

“Did you hear?”

“The king is chained.  He does not even reign here.  He has been imprisoned!”

A trick!  A trick!  It was all a trick.  The champion’s death was supposed to be our crowning moment!  It should have been our greatest day!

Somehow he has broken the chains of death with which he should have been bound, and used them to bind our king.  His grave – empty.  Our king – defeated.  Our crowning moment – our ultimate defeat.

Did you hear?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Charity and the #IndianaLaw

So earlier I discussed the Virtue of Charity- and specifically what is required to see a resurgence in its practice.  Now I would like to turn to the idiocy among a certain segment of our population as it relates to the Indiana RFRA.

I am not going to explain what an RFRA really is- go over to the Ace of Spades HQ, we’ll probably be talking about it there if you’re really interested.  Or [search engine of choice] Bill Clinton’s 1993 Federal RFRA.

I’m going to discuss Charity as it relates to the RFRA.

First- that there has to be an RFRA at all shows a failure of charity.  Whether or not I agree with same sex marriage, my business is mine to conduct.  If I do not wish to do business with you, that may be bad.  In some cases it may be a failure of charity on my part (it normally is not, however).  However, it is *certainly* a failure of charity, and a much worse one, to impoverish me and have the Government force me at the point of a gun to do business with you.  Had everyone been charitable, then no RFRA would be necessary- wedding cake designers would not be having to make cakes for ceremonies they believe to be sinful, but would be as helpful as possible outside those bounds (in most cases, they are already fulfilling that second part).  The government would not be seizing sacred objects from Indian tribes, and Indian tribes would not be bothering others with their sacred items.

Second- The RFRA is not a license for Christians to be uncharitable, and I have heard of no particular case where they have been.  It is not uncharitable to say, “No, I do not wish to do business with you.”  It might be uncharitable if my objection to doing business with you was something you could not control (your ethnicity, or gender)- but it wouldn’t necessarily be.  It is certainly not uncharitable when my objection is to an action you are going to take because it violates my own moral code.

The Gay Lobby is either ignorant (or, more likely, does not care) of the fact that to Christians and Jews homosexuality is morally reprehensible.  Considering that the wedding ceremony is specifically a Religious one, homosexual weddings are not just immoral; they are making a mockery of Christianity.  And while that is not, no its own, a reason to make them illegal or even prevent them from having legitimacy in the eyes of the State, that is ample reason for a Christian to elect not to support one with his labor.

Do you want charity to rule in this case?  I agree with you.  So let’s all agree to be charitable.  But at this point, there’s only one side that isn’t living up to that bargain.

On Virtue: Charity

In Mere Christianity CS Lewis points out that the “Christian” virtue of “Charity” is not simply “giving to the poor.”  Rather, it is a classic term for love, or as he says, “Love, in the Christian sense.”  Giving to the poor is part of it, certainly, but not even the greatest part.

The virtue of Charity (I believe it is not unique to Christianity, though Christianity broadens its scope) is about treating people nicely.  It is kindness and gentleness.  It is patience.  Even pagan religions taught charity to one extent or another.  “Love your neighbor as yourself” was an Old Testament teaching.  Other groups at the time had similar directives.  The uniquely Christian spin on the virtue was not that it was wholly new, but that Christ defined “your neighbor” as “your hated enemy.”

What does that have to do with today?  Does anyone say we should not be charitable?

In reverse order: no, no one says we should not be charitable.  Nevertheless people are not charitable.  And their directives to be charitable are usually self-serving.  *YOU* are supposed to be charitable to *me.*

So, in a very real sense, much of our society has abandoned charity.

What does that have to do with today?  Well, it has direct consequences on just about everything.  Are you moaning about how uncivilized our “public discourse” has become?  Then it’s time to start calling for charity.  Are you complaining about judgmental attitudes?  Then it is time to start calling for charity.

But here’s the rub.  If you are going to call for charity, you must practice it yourself.  Otherwise it is simply self-serving sophistry (at best) and self-righteous hypocrisy at worst.