Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What Today Means to America and the Church

Today has meaning for every American and many , at least, in the Western World. Meaning is the "stuff" of value(s) and it is represented in symbols, which enlarge one's imagination because of their meaning.

America's symbols of Flag, Monuments, and Buildings are the "stuff" of Washington, D.C., where these are promeniently displayed. Many have used the symbol of the "Flag" to protest policy in its burning, others have used it to represent comradie to its meaning, in parades, or the creation of monuments, such as the Three Soldiers Raising the Flag, after WWII. Our country allows the freedom of protest, as it values opinions outside the frey of convention. And because policy is made by those who have listened to a particular position, some think that this is why lobbyists are really the strongest force in our country's legislation. And many believe that lobbyists are the "doom" of our county's freedoms, as it empowers the powerful, while limiting the voice of those outside the power structures of corporation, and special interests. Many fear that our very freedoms are at stake because organized crime could have a hand in these lobbying.

While protest is allowed, because we value all voices, even when it seemingly undermines the consensus, it is only because we value every groups right of expression. The most vivid memory I have of this protest was of the Vietnam War. It was a turbulant time and while many protested, much was done that undermined our values of "law and order". Freedom to protest or assembly is valued, but not in a disordered or violent way. Ours are the values of diverse opeinions, freedom of expression, and "law and order", because we value reason, and rationality in our discourse.

Christians also value representation in their government, and "law and order". And they also value (at least some forms) symbolization of "faith" in Cross, eucharist, baptism, etc. But, many Christians do not value the freedom to protest, or disagree with "outside" approved sources, in evaluating their understanding of faith. There is not "freethought" allowed, as it is feared that freethought will undermine religion's tradition altogether. This does not have to be so. History has proven that many have enlarged the vision, and hope through embracing the "ideas" that were outside the approved "circle" of reference.

Today's evangelicals, for the most part, adhere to Scripture as their only authority. And, yet, do not really, seek to understand their faith within a larger context of Church history, and the natural and social sciences. It is important in faith's rationale and appeal to the educated, as well, as understanding faith that is grounded in the 'real world", so that there is no appeal to a sweet by and by, which dismisses and diminishes the real suffering in the world.

My hope for America, as well as the Church, is that both would enlarge their vision, by giving room to those outside the power structures to have a voice and make a difference in those very power structures. It is only in balancing power that power is accountable and responsible to govern all. Otherwise, power, tyranny, and special interest control. And none of us would want that!

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