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Perhaps you’re thinking that those examples from five different centuries have been cherrypicked so much that they distort the Christian record. For the sake of perspective, we should also look at misbehavior and sin. Fair enough.
I grew up in Hawaii, where there’s always an argument to be made that unscrupulous missionaries in league with sugar cane planters defrauded native Hawaiians of what had been their land. There’s something to that charge, but to make it an indictment of organized religion you’d have to show fraud as a matter of church policy, which it never has been. Moreover, people who make that argument typically forget that the nineteenth-century Hawaiian monarchy was full of Anglophiles. Far from rejecting Anglo-American influence, Queen Liliokalani and Prince Kalakaua recognized that the caste system exploited by forebears like Kamehameha had serious limitations.
NONE OF THIS MEANS to argue that the church is perfect, only that it is necessary and good. To point to church workers who’ve been cheated out of overtime pay, or bishops who leave hit-and-run scenes for fear of the police (as happened in Arizona), proves only that Christianity is right to say that we’re all sinners who need God.
Warde’s observation that “so many people in church [have] lost touch with their own ability to reach beyond rigor mortis or feigned happiness to ‘touch the power of God’” seems astute. My friend was also right to observe that priests and bishops can be obstacles on a path to enlightenment.
Fortunately, neither of those developments is fatal to Christianity, especially Catholic Christianity, because both can be checked, and eventually reversed, from within the Christian tradition. The Spanish mystic John of the Cross wrote famously about his “dark night(s) of the soul,” and the Welsh missionary to the Irish whom we call Saint Patrick was more than once stymied by druids working for chieftains or high kings, but neither John nor Patrick decided to become a shaman, or asked plaintively what Xena would do, because they didn’t have to.
Color me old-school: a gratuitous reference to warrior princess Lucy Lawless in the leather armor she wore for TV seems almost never out of place. Oh, and insofar as Christianity is concerned, I’ll stick with organized religion. As you’ll have guessed by now, it’s not because I’m incapable of thought, impressed by pomp, or — per Warde’s conjecture — unwilling to stop dragging the security blanket of authority around. I agree with his assertion that the mention of God should start conversations, not end them.
But for me to separate myself from the church would mean rejecting the counsel of sages through the ages, and making myself a slave to whim. No thanks. I’ve lived just long enough to know that the Tyranny of Me is no prettier than the Tyranny of You, and while my boss really is a Jewish carpenter, he’s also a guy — and a God — who knows how to delegate.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?