Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Pope and Kim Davis

After the latest mass shooting Drudge led with a story that appears to be true--the Oregon killer actually asked students in the classroom he entered toting all that firepower, whether they were Christians, then killed those who claimed they were. 

I don't want to take anything away from those who were killed, those who, after determining the outcome of the madman's questioning, professed their faith anyway. Some might even call them martyrs. 

But to lead with that story--after yet another mass killing on campus--is to major in minors. Worse, Drudge's intent, or so it seems to me, is clear: what he'd like to do is wave the flames of the Huckabee theory that pledging the Christian faith can put you at great risk in our horribly secular culture. It makes good political sense to scare Christians. Haul Sharia law into the argument, and you start tallying real votes.

If there's anything the Pope's incredible visit to the U. S. makes clear is that such theories are bogus. Catholicism is alive and well in this country, broader Christianity is too. In fact, if there's a brand of Christianity that appears to be holding its own these days, it's Huckabee's particular Bible-belt brand. Pew made very clear not long ago that church directories risk becoming as thin as Time (the magazine--remember it?) or your local Sunday paper because many who profess being Christians choose not to affiliate with any church at all.

That's overstatement. But what Pew's broad survey revealed was, in there in their lede: "The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing."

Seventy percent of the American public considers themselves "Christian," although the second-most populace bunch don't darken church doors. That--or so it seems to me--is a church problem. The only hostility is that generated by the unaffiliated themselves. No one is prohibited. No one is persecuted. 

Except Kim Davis. I don't happen to be one of those who believe that a bust of Kim Davis needs to be placed somewhere near Stephen, the Bible's first martyr. From my point of view, she has a government job that requires her to carry out the law. She's totally and forever free as a Christian to maintain her beliefs, even to practice them and not marry someone of the same sex. 

But because she is in the government's employ, she is obliged, by law, to carry out the law. I think I understand her deep antipathy for gay marriage, but her position requires adherence to the law of the land. She is still free to accede to her conscience and walk away from the job. 

Always, the reward for conscientious objection--objection built on faith--is the blessing of a clear conscience, and rarely the right to hold a job. If I opposed the war in Vietnam and would have chosen to rip up my draft card in 1968, I couldn't fault the government for coming after me. My reward, even from a jail cell, would have been my clear conscience. 

The ungodly stink raised when it was revealed that the Pope met with Ms. Davis while he was here has still not dissipated. I don't understand that either. He's the Pope, for Peter's sake. He can and will meet with anyone and everyone, if he so desires. Shouldn't he? Aren't we all in need of grace? Don't we all covet prayers? Didn't he show in a thousand ways, when he was here, that he thinks of his mission, first and foremost, as love? 

He also met with a gay ex-student of his and that man's lover, old friends. Whether he lectured them on their sin isn't known, but all accounts seem the contrary. Should he not have met with that ex-student? Of course not.

The great blessing of the papal visit wasn't him kissing babies or riding in that darling little Fiat. The real blessing was his reminding us that what life is all about is to love others as we would ourselves want to be loved. 

That's the mission that defines the actions, including his meeting with Kim Davis. 

The real problem is ourselves. We could chant "the golden rule" 24/7, each of us could--and we'd still have all kinds of trouble living the precept.

All of us, me and Drudge and Kim Davis and the Pope  himself, I'm sure he'd say.  

Lord God a'mighty, we all stand in need  of grace.


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