Sunday, August 30, 2015

(Not) 'Going Native'

As a Christian, and a Catholic, I should be 'in the world but not of the world.' That idea shows up in John 15:18-19 and 17:14-16, and Romans 12:2.

Joining a cloistered outfit like the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists) is one option: they're part of the Benedictine family, contemplative monks and nuns.

Their website,, gives a pretty good look at who they are and what they do. The FAQ page is a pretty good place to start, and that's another topic.

Not all religious orders are cloistered, not all vocations are "vocations," and that's almost another topic. Topics. (December 28, 2014)

Like most Catholics, I'm part of the laity: folks who aren't nuns, monks, deacons, or priests. Part of our job is "...engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will...." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 898)

Love and the Status Quo

Applying God's will to temporal/worldly affairs does not mean trying to drag America back to the 'good old days' before 1954, or 1848, or some other bygone day.

We can't accept the status quo, either. I'll get back to that.

The Catholic Church is catholic: καθολικός, universal, not tied to one era or one culture.

For two millennia, we've been passing along the same message: God loves us, and wants to adopt us. All of us. (Ephesians 1:3-5; John 3:17; Catechism, 52, 1825)

That's why Jesus, the Son of God, became one of us, died on Golgotha, and then stopped being dead. (Catechism, 430-655, 2669)

There's more to our faith, of course. I'm expected to love God, love my neighbor, see everybody as my neighbor, and treat others as I'd like to be treated. (Matthew 5:43-44, 7:12, 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31 10:25-27, 29-37; Catechism, 1789)

Acting as if God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — and what Our Lord taught — matter is what 'applying God's will to temporal affairs' means. (July 27, 2014)

The Nicene Creed is a pretty good summary of our faith. "...We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come" — but this isn't a 'pie in the sky by and bye" faith.

Part of our job is building truly just societies. (July 5, 2015; September 28, 2014)

Crime and/or Evil

I enjoyed the radio adventures of Chickenman: mostly for the campy humor.

I was one of 'those crazy kids' back then, and recognized that the fantastic fowl's comedic battle against "crime and/or evil" contained a (tiny) element of truth.

Sometimes what's legal is not right.

I'm older and balder now, and became a Catholic. But what's legal still isn't necessarily right.

If I thought the perfect society existed in 1st century Rome, or American suburbia in the 1950s, I'd be doing what I can to restore that way of life. But like I've said before, we haven't had a golden age. (July 12, 2015; August 3, 2014)

We don't have a truly just society today, either, so accepting the status quo isn't an option. (May 24, 2015; May 3, 2015)

I'm supposed to be a good citizen here in America: contributing " the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom...." (Catechism, 2239)
But as Paul wrote to the Philippians, "...our citizenship is in heaven...." (Philippians 3:20)

As a Catholic, I must submit to the authority of whoever runs the territory I'm in: unless doing what they say would violate the 'love God, love your neighbor, everyone's your neighbor' principle. (Catechism, 2239, 2242)

Legal, but Not Right

I'd have to refuse an order to commit genocide, for example, even if the full authority of the United States Congress and Supreme Court was behind it. (Catechism, 2313)

I'm no fan of ethnic cleansing or eugenics, partly because many of my ancestors are of an 'inferior race,' I'm rather close to being Lebensunwertes Leben, and that's several more topics. (April 26, 2015; February 13, 2015: December 5, 2014)

Even the most strident anti-immigrant American politicos have stopped short of campaigning for genocide, though: happily. Maybe we learned something from the Armenian genocide and a German chancellor's eugenics efforts. Yet more topics.

Not-so-happily, killing innocent people is legal: as long as it's done when they're under an arbitrary age; or are sick enough. I think this is wrong. More to the point, the Church says it's not right — because human life is sacred, and murder is wrong, even if it's legal. (Catechism, 2270-2279)

Don't worry: I won't rant about God being a Democrat/Republican/whatever. Like I keep saying, I'm not conservative, liberal, Democrat, or Republican: I'm Catholic. (November 3, 2008)

Faith that's "Two Coats of Paint" Deep

'Going native,'1 adopting the lifestyle of the locals, is easy: but it's not necessarily a good idea.

Pope Francis talked about that sort of thing last year:
"...In essence, Francis explained, they are 'worldly Christians, Christians in name, with two or three Christian attributes, but nothing more'. They are 'pagan Christians'. The have 'a Christian name, but a pagan life' or, to put it another way, 'pagans painted with two coats of Christianity: thus they appear as Christians, but they are pagans'...."
(Two coats of Paint," Pope Francis, Morning Meditation in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae (November 7, 2014) via L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly edition in English, n. 46, (November 14, 2014))
It's not 'those people over there.' Anybody can slide away from Truth. The trick is paying attention to what's important:
"...The signs to understand what we are moving toward, the Pope said, 'are in your heart: if you love and are attached to money, to vanity and pride, you are on that bad path; if you seek to love God, to serve others, if you are gentle, if you are humble, if you serve others, you are on the good path'. And thus, 'your identity card is good: it's from Heaven'. The other, however, is 'a citizenship that will bring you harm'...."
(Two coats of Paint," Pope Francis, Morning Meditation in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae (November 7, 2014)...)
Money is okay, by the way. It's love of money that gets us in trouble. (1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5; Catechism, 2544)

Humility isn't delusion, it's accepting reality; and I'm drifting off-topic again. (January 25, 2015; August 10, 2014)

Moving Forward

Going with the flow, accepting the way things are, isn't an option. Neither is desperately clinging to the way things were. Both are a 'two coats of paint' superficial Christianity: different colors, but the same lack of depth.

That leaves one direction: forward. Like I said last week, change happens. Part of our job is pushing it in the right direction.

Loving our neighbors, all our neighbors, means social justice is a priority.

That doesn't mean forcing everyone into one cultural mold, or insisting one 'correct' form of government. We're not supposed to be all alike. (Catechism, 1901, 1897-1917, 1928-1942)

We're told to work with what we have, correcting what is unjust, and supporting what is right. (Catechism, 1936-1938, 2401-2449)

It won't be easy, or fun. As someone said, "humans are allergic to change."

But I think we can build a better world. I am sure that we must try.

Somewhat-related posts:

1 I haven't run into the term "going native" for quite a while:
"go native (of a settler) to adopt the lifestyle of the local population, esp when it appears less civilized"
(the Free Online Dictionary)

"Go native is an expression meaning 'to adopt the lifestyle or outlook of local inhabitants'."

"to go native (third-person singular simple present goes native, present participle going native, simple past went native, past participle gone native)
  1. (idiomatic) To adopt the lifestyle or outlook of local inhabitants, especially when dwelling in a colonial region; to become less refined under the influence of a less cultured, more primitive, or simpler social environment.
  2. (idiomatic) Of a contractor or consultant, to begin working directly as an employee for a company and cease to work through a contracting firm or agency."


Brigid said...

Stutter (and a missing word): "or insisting one one 'correct' form of government."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...

I do do that a lot, Brigid. Found, fixed, and thanks!

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