80s and early 90s were a great time to be alive.1989 saw the collapse of Communist
dictatorships throughout Eastern Europe.In December 1991, the Soviet Union itself was disbanded.With the end of the Cold War, some people
(perhaps naïvely) spoke of a “peace dividend.”We could use money and resources devoted to weapons for better purposes.
the scene on February 11, 1990, that sticks in my mind.I remember that it was a Sunday morning, and
as we were preparing to go to church, the television in the kitchen was
on.A quite remarkable thing was
happening.Nelson Mandela was walking
through the gates of the prison where he had been held.In church that morning, I gave as a reason to
praise the Lord that Mandela was free.It was a pretty conservative church, so I’m not sure everyone that morning
agreed with me.
In any event, four years later, he became the president of South
Africa.When so many in the country were
screaming for vengeance, Mandela said “no.”He provided true leadership for all South Africans.He is one of the very few heads of state who
deserved to be called a world leader.
Ekklesia Project website, Mark Ryan has posted some thoughts on what it means “To
Feel as Christians.” He’s basing his
comments primarily on Psalm 119:139, which says, “I am consumed by
anger, because my enemies forget your words.”
course, that verse is hardly the only place in scripture where we are
confronted by emotions of anger, hate, and betrayal—even directed toward God.
notes how anger and hate have infused the body politic in America, and how
Christians get sucked right in. He says
that “both our leaders and many of our fellow citizens exist for us as abstractions,
as types rather than persons. Our
political climate is generated and sustained by a system able to create
identities rooted primarily in ideological packages: abstract groupings that mesh political,
religious and cultural meanings or viewpoints.
The political climate in which we live, in other words, already tutors
our emotions. Those of us who find
ourselves opposed to one leader or another must ask ourselves, ‘Are we being
shaped by a politics that trains us to see fellow citizens not as particular
human beings but as abstract symbols of the opposition?’”
deeper and more pernicious happens than the loss of civility, as precious as
that is. We betray our primary identity,
as children of God. “Because our worship
of…God must constitute our deepest identity, we cannot be who we are without
cultivating those emotions in and through which all persons are seen primarily
as concrete individuals who image God uniquely, and only secondarily as
partisans of this cause or that group.”
give me the grace to recognize my sisters and brothers, even when they’re
spouting utter nonsense! (Of course, I
always avoid letting nonsense leave my lips!)
That seems like an
appropriate reflection on this All Saints’ Day.
the feast day for St. Francis of Assisi.The Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, in his daily meditation has
something quite appropriate.In his day,
Francis had all of the trappings of success.He came from the right family; he had all of the connections.But that wasn’t enough—or perhaps, it was too much!
says, “In a certain sense we are on the utterly wrong track. We are climbing while Jesus is descending, and
in that we reflect the pride and the arrogance of Western civilization, usually
trying to accomplish, perform, and achieve. This is our real operative religion. Success is holy! We transferred much of that to our version of
Christianity and made the Gospel into spiritual consumerism. The ego is still in charge. There is not much room left for God when the
false self takes itself and its private self-development that seriously.”
In a LinkedIn-cv-credential mad world, it is refreshing to stop,
remember to breathe, and be mindful of what really matters.