Back when I posted Frank Rich's column I thought I should explain why I was doing so. Well, last week being what it was, it didn't happen. Since then I've also posted the Maher Arar piece from the Globe, and it's only heightened the need for some context.
You could be forgiven for thinking I was making political statements by posting these articles. I can hear it now:
- "Mike's a liberal."
- "Mike's anti-American"
- "Mike's an idiot"
While the last point might be valid, the first two are not.
I am no more a liberal than I am a conservative. (On the political front I might be best described as an issue voter, but again, this is not about politics.)
As to the second charge, some of my best friends are Americans! I'll admit that I think the current administration leaves a lot to be desired, but that is a reflection of their actions as individuals, not as Americans.
With that as background let me change gears for a minute.
On Sunday I shared with my friends at The Cove some thoughts on story - our story, and God's story. I borrowed liberally (haha) from N.T. Wright's work on God's Story as a five act play, which you can find, almost as an aside to a larger issue, here. (For those of you familiar with the essay I'm in complete agreement with the Bishop in that we are currently working out the fluid part of Act 5. Read the essay if you're curious.)
I probably push the point farther than Wright intended in that I believe the Gospel is "participatory" in nature. We have a role to play. And it's not just a nice idea or even a desirable goal to figure out what God is up to and get involved. It's more than that. It's... well, required somehow. It's the point.
I know even now some of you are reaching for the "works" stones to chuck at me. We can talk that out if you wish, but here's the point as far as the linked articles are concerned. As the People of God we are moving forward toward Heaven on Earth, toward the Kingdom. We need to imagine the world as it
should will be, and lean into it. Or, as my friend Dave Diewert says, live into it.
The good thing is this: When we start to look at the world through our "Act Five" lenses we begin to see that there are more people leaning into this thing than we may have originally thought. Craig Ferguson moved us a few inches along when he concluded that while the powerful are to be held accountable, the vulnerable are to be helped. In the Kingdom that has come / will come / is coming, "everyone cares". So in singing those words and showing us examples of people living them out, Nickelback is also nudging us along toward the goal.
It's all God's work, and I want to celebrate it, and point is out as inspiration.
Unfortunately not all the movement is in the right direction.
The U.S. administration's "stunt of repackaging old, fear-inducing news for public consumption" does not move us toward something better.
When a citizen is kidnapped and sent to another country to be tortured, without a fair trial or legal representation, in clear violation of international law as well as most people's sense of moral decency, this does not make the world a better place.
As the People of God who fervently desire Heaven on Earth we must be just as quick to stand up and point out when things are going backwards.
"Compassion constitutes a radical form of criticism, for it announces that the hurt is to be taken seriously, that the hurt is not to be accepted as normal and natural but is an abnormal and unacceptable condition for humanness."
We are to be a people of compassion, which means we must be ready and willing to boldly stand up and point out what is not contributing toward the end of all our desires, the Kingdom of God.
May it be so.