Friday, September 30, 2005

from 'beyond secular reason'

Archbishop Martinez on the ‘battle’ for power:

And this is my main reason to distrust the urge that so many feel nowadays in certain countries (this is the case in Spain) of bringing the Church as Church into the political arena to fight propositions that utterly offend the Christian understanding of human life (the so-called "marriage" of homosexuals, other obvious destructions of marriage, the experiments with humanembryos, "liberalization" of euthanasia and abortion, etc). The very interest that the proponents of these monstrosities seem to have in the provocation makes me extremely suspicious. On the other hand, I cannot bring myself to imagine the Church of the second or of the third century trying to overthrow and take over the Roman Empire to make it Christian, instead of converting it. For us Christians, that kind of "battle" is always a distraction and a trap. For one thing, it will make us forget how much we have contributed and still contribute to this very state of affairs that now so much offends us. To put just one example, the sexual morality and the so- called "bioethics" of the advanced apitalistic societies is obviously tied up with and depends in many ways on the economic interests of particular industries, and on very deep assumptions about the meaning of human life common in capitalistic mentality. It is pathetic to see some Christians renting their clothes about the propositions about sexual life that come from secular society while at the same time defending wholeheartedly the moral autonomy of modern economics or politics.” (italics added)

“I do not believe, therefore, that any strategy to conquer influence or power in our societies will do any good to the Church or to the cause of Christianity in any sense. We as Christians cannot have any nostalgia of the days of the past and, least of all, for those very conditions that have led to the invention of the secular as a reaction against a decadent and already reductive image of Christianity. A strategy of looking for influence will only continue to hide to most Christians the fact that the real "enemy" is not truly outside us, but within us, in the exact measure (which is a very large measure) we share those very assumptions whose consequences we criticize so sharply in the decisions of some politicians (but in general only of some).”
This perfectly illustrates the problems of the religious right/left’s engagements in current American politics.

“In consequence, that strategy will only distract us from the only "politics" that is needed in the present situation, and the only one can really make a difference in the world: being the body of Christ, living in the communion of the Holy Spirit in this concrete hour of history. In other words, the "politics" we most need is conversion in order to build up of the Church again as a banner among the nations, as "a nation made from all nations". An effect of this distraction is that it allows the immense energy Christianity unlashes to be used instrumentally in the favor of political programs that do not and cannot, in any way, be identified with the life the Lord has given us. That life lives in the Church, and not in a political party, not even in one that would eventually present itself as being at the service of the "Christian values". The circle closes when one realizes that the instrumentality of the Church to a political program becomes by itself – in complete independence of the content of that program – a hindrance to the freedom of the Church and to the faith of the world in Jesus Christ.” (italics added)

It is interesting that Arshbishop Marinez should emphasized conversion as a necessary ecclesial activity. Conversion has fallen out of favor with most, smacking of intolerance and manipulation. But might not it be a necessary concept, if not concrete practice, of the Church if it is truly to be political. Now of course this sounds like good old fashion evangelicalism and its individualized, privatized faith and its outstanding conversion. But that is the whole problem. Conversion has been interiorized and legalized as the turn to Christ to save me from sins. But I’m talking about a political conversion to Jesus as LORD, leading his triumphant procession before the powers of the world, and a public joining him in his purposes in the world that is out there.

I’ll say more about this soon.

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