“Politics is the Church’s business whenever
it concerns how people treat people.” — John Paul II, Pope
“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?” — Rodney King
Friends in Christ,
Like many of you I spend time attempting to explain the world to children and teens. As you know, they are up to speed on world news. Just think of who leads the way on climate change or gun control in schools. Whatever your positions, teens think these are essential issues.
If you follow my sermons year in and year out (!) you know that at one point a few years ago, trying to describe the anti-semitism, racism Muslim bans and what can only be described as brinksmanship with nations like North Korea, I told children and youth that “this is not normal.” But after some time, again in my sermons, I said, this is familiar. This is known. Sometimes it’s even normal. Or, we’ve been here before.
Sadly we know hostility to foreigners, racism and the ways of tyrants from Biblical history, and not the parts we’re called to emulate. We know danger, immorality and even selling out friends for thirty pieces of silver from the experiences of our ancestors in the faith. For decades we’ve ended our Good Friday Tenebrae with some people’s least favorite expression in scripture: “But men loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.” Does that mean that what we do leads us to love darkness? That our actions affect our environment? That, well, sin is powerful in our world? That evil is real?
Our actions do affect our environment. So say Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, Deborah, Miriam, Jesus and Paul, among others. They also point out that it’s why we need God. Because darkness or sin or all its relatives are hard to fight on your own. They are too powerful for anyone alone.
To build on John Paul’s expression, that’s what we try to address in politics (from polis, where we practice the care of a community). To build on King’s, our quest is to get along. Certainly that’s our Christian call.
Sometimes getting along takes climate action, gun control, anti-racism programs and protection of the vulnerable, among other things. Sometimes getting along takes a mixture of the freedom that Paul speaks of in Romans 5 and the covenant that he speaks of in Romans 12.
Next month all our children’s issues will be on ballots across America. The month after that they’ll still be our values. If you’d like to spend some time before or after then discussing this let me know. It’s a matter of faith.
Peace to you,