A Category Explained
In my blog I have included a category called “Culture at Midnight.” The title identifies what I believe to be the sober reality of our times. The culture of the west, America in particular, is in transition. This category will grapple with the question of how to navigate the force-fields of that transition. Are we followers of Jesus prepared to live apart from the surrounding culture? Are we willing to reject cues from media, politics or any other cultural bellwether; to act by the Spirit and from the example of our predecessors in the faith?
Yesterday, I had a discussion with a young friend who was curious about my political opinions. I told him I had very few. That was being honest. I have little confidence in political motivations and the ability of government to bring about a just and peaceful world. Moreover, I doubt that we are getting real transparency through the media and from persons in places of power who have good reason to tell the viewing public what the focus groups say we want to hear. I moderated my indifference by telling him that I felt it was counterproductive, even improper, for me to throw my negativity into the roiling cauldron of discontent that passes for discourse these days. Instead, I told him that I was committed to pray for the leadership in our country and beyond. I even went so far as to say I was a monarchist and that my King was not of this world. I had a twinkle in my eye when I said it, but the statement is probably truer than I gave him reason to believe.
So, here’s the thing. The world around us going in directions we, the “ecclesia” cannot go. That means if we intend to survive the coming storm of marginalization, rejection and ridicule, we will need to decide what we believe and form a new community. Then, that community will have to decide how to live.
Back to the discussion with my young friend. When he queried me about social ills, including the environment and the issue du jour, gender, I simply said that I felt that it did little good to curse and cry outrage when we could multiply those energies toward changing our corner of the world. If there is poverty, let us be generous. If we see people being abused, regardless of who they are, defend and protect. If there is exploitation of the environment, let us care for it.
In other words, when we see the ills and follies of our world, let our new community –the ecclesia– do the opposite.
DOING THE OPPOSITE
There, in my opinion, is the value of the news reports and the media. They point out the ills that our people—the new community of Jesus followers—can heal in our corner of the world. Little will be accomplished if we should carry placards, march, rant and rail at injustice, abuse and exploitation. More will be done if we identify the problem and exert our passions toward what we can do together, doing the opposite of the evil report where we can.
That is what this series will attempt to do. As we navigate the “Culture at Midnight,” we can identify evil and despair, and then act. What does the “me, too” movement require of us? Is there something we can do while others “take a knee”? If corporations pollute and exploit, what will we do to honor the creation of God where we live? Let others strain against the cables and hurl themselves against the Bastille. Let us quietly take up the plow and the shovel. Let us take up the abandoned babies as our predecessors in the faith did. Let us find others of like mind and, without fanfare, change a little corner of the world. As Mother Theresa said…
Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.