Father Sterling: Of course! And it makes perfect sense that Jesus would choose to come to America! God blessed this nation over all others! That's why he's on our money.
Dr. Clark: You're a moron.
- Punk Rock Jesus
by Sean Murphy
Yes, this fictional character is a moron and I was planning to write this exquisite essay detailing the dangerous and idolatrous consequences of intertwining Christianity and the state. It was to be powerful, masterful, and a stunning display of my skillful placement of words upon the page. People would be astounded by my lyrical prose and enchanting verbosity.
Why would I write such a thing? Honestly, to appease my need to feel intellectual and occasionally pompous. Because I am an educated and clever man.
And that's where this all fell apart.
I recently finished reading another book by the wonderful Brennan Manning, Abba's Child. Towards the end, he recounts this little trivial tidbit, "Thirteenth-century theologian Anthony of Padua opened every class he taught with the phrase, 'Of what value is learning that does not turn to love?'"1
What love is there in calling someone a moron, even if it is halfheartedly in jest? Where would be the love in this brilliant essay I had planned? I could probably, when pressed, fit love somewhere into it. But my motivations and intentions clearly were not born from love. And as my first move is to agree that the given character is a moron, out from the periphery strides none other than Spider Jerusalem, pointing his finger at me as he says with his malevolent grin, "That's a Christian attitude you've got there!"
Of what value would such a piece of writing be?
In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul famously wrote:
"If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all the mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3[NRSV]I have read that passage and listened to sermons taught on it for decades now, but this is the first time it has actually meant something to me. Scripture is weird like that. It can be hammered into you for years to the point where you know it and agree with it, but it never really means anything. It becomes plain and cliche. The radical words of the kingdom of heaven become mundane and normal. But one day, seemingly at random, those words will strike a new chord that just shatters your state of contentment.
If I write Wednesday Theology with grand eloquence and insight, but I do it without love, what good is it?
So I scrapped that idea and wrote this instead. It's far more personal, though I have no idea if it's any more profound. It's certainly not what I intended to write, nor what I wanted to write. Truthfully, this is far more embarrassing to write. But I know in previous posts I have been rather crass, and sometimes that is just the style I was aiming for. But sometimes there was sincere antagonistic and mean-spirited motivations underlying my words.
I aim, in the future, to be more careful about that. I aim to write in a more loving manner. I can disagree with people, ideas, and beliefs without attacking those people. It's certainly not easy. In fact it's rather ridiculous to love those you disagree with. But if I've learned anything, it's that the kingdom of God is assuredly madness, and we are meant to live in an equally mad manner.
1Brennan Manning, Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994), 135.