Thursday, August 25, 2011

Two Thousand Years of the Great Commission, and Some Guy With a Blog

America's next presidential election is more than a year away. Campaigns have been going for a while, and so has news coverage.

At this rate, we may get to a point where campaigns for an election four or five years off will be going full blast when polls open each November. Can't say I'd like to see that. There's enough vitriol dripping off news, op-ed pages, and blogs, to eat through copper. At least it feels like it.

There are times when I feel like forgetting about elections, issues, and particularly the tunnel-vision partisans who cling to campaigns like barnacles to a ship. Being 'above mundane affairs' isn't an option for me, since I'm a practicing Catholic.

We're expected to "take an active part in public life." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 19151) Since America is a country where citizens can vote, I can't ignore the candidates.

The Great Commission

About two thousand years back, my Lord gave an order that we've come to call the great commission:
"8 The eleven 9 disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.

"10 When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.

"11 Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

"Go, therefore, 12 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,

"teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 13 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.' "
(Matthew 28:16-20)
I think one reason the eleven worked so hard at making "disciples of all nations" is that Jesus of Nazareth had been tortured to death before giving those orders: and then stopped being dead. Which is another topic.

Or maybe not so much. A few minutes, or years, or decades, from now I'll be getting some serious personal time with my Lord. We call it the particular judgment, and it's when I get to find out how good a follower I've been. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1021-1022) I plan to throw myself on my Lord's mercy, and hope for the best.

I don't think I can 'work my way into heaven,' but I'm certain that what I do - and don't do - matters. (Catechism, 1021)

A Millennia-Spanning Mandate, and Some Guy With a Blog

One of my high-priority tasks is to do my part in that "disciples of all nations" thing. Sure, I'm only about 1/1,000,000,000th of the Church currently in the world, and I can only reach folks I know - and anyone reading this blog. It's not "all nations," but it's a start.

Don't worry, by the way: I'm not going to go full-bore blowhard evangelical on you. I've tangled with folks who use Christianity as a blunt instrument - who indirectly encouraged my conversion to Catholicism.

Getting back to the great commission, presidential elections, and me.

I've written about political issues that I think are important before: like whether or not it's good public policy to kill people who aren't up to spec. I don't think so, partly because of what the Church says. (Catechism, 2277) I plan to keep doing that.

But I don't intend to call anyone who doesn't agree with me a heretical mush-brained spawn of Satan. Ethical and theological considerations aside, I think that'd be a daft way to make my views seem reasonable.

Besides, I've got the full authority of "some guy with a blog," and take Matthew 7:1 seriously.

I think:
  • It's a mistake to
    • 'Be polite' and not contradict nonsense spouted by the nation's self-appointed best and brightest
    • Emulate folks who yell 'racist!' or 'commie!' whenever someone disagrees with them
  • Life-and-death issues are at stake in next year's election
  • Individuals matter
    • To each individual, anyway
  • I'll be held accountable for my actions
    • Just like everybody else
    • I've got enough trouble, without adding slander to the list
      (Catechism, 2477)
  • The great commission hasn't been rescinded
    • Acting like a jerk isn't good 'discipleship'
    • 'Religious people are unreasonable' is a fairly common stereotype
      • Living down to it won't encourage anyone to take my faith seriously
    • Abrasively-religious Christians make an impression
      • That needs to be corrected
  • We're called to love our neighbor
    • Not abuse our neighbor
It might be easier to either let fly with expletives over the shenanigans of my 'betters;' or to be primly pious, posting a pithy platitude each day. But I don't want either up for review at my particular judgment.

Not when I'm pretty sure that I can make at least a small difference by taking time to think - and sharing what I come up with.

Related posts:

1 There's quite a bit in the Catechism about citizenship, including this selection:
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church on
    • Citizens and public life (1915)
    • Duties of those with authority over others (2199)
    • Duties of citizens (22382243, 2255)


Brigid said...

Missing end parenthesis: "(Catechism, 2477"

Missing end apostrophe: "shenanigans of my 'betters; or"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

"There are times when I feel like forgetting about elections, issues, and particularly the tunnel-vision partisans who cling to campaigns like barnacles to a ship." I don't watch the news. I ask you for the appropriate resources and try to make a decision based on the person's voting record. If they have one.

Brian Gill said...


Found, fixed, thanks!

About voting-record resources: I'll try to remember to get some links up in this blog.

A sort of caveat, though: I don't think voting records alone tell the whole story, particularly since it's possible to vote for a distasteful bill - because the alternative was worse.

Also, it's possible for reporting agencies to skew perceptions by creative selection and descriptions of what was voted on.

That said, voting records are one of the comparatively reliable, evidence-based resources for finding out what a politico actually does.

Thanks again.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.