March Journal, Third Sunday in Lent

In the Gospel reading assigned for today, Our Lord’s words rang especially true: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.” (St. Luke 11:14+) America is divided by the politics of division itself.

It is tragically ironic that we are told we must return to a segregated society, and the call to make this happen has come from those who championed southern segregation and the ownership of slaves, the Democrat Party. 

The work of Martin Luther King and many others up to this day is being abandoned and denied. We are being separated into groups by the color of our skin. We are being told what to think and how to act according to rules of race.

This tyranny goes by the name of critical race theory or identity politics. Instead of restoring identities and celebrating our differences, powerful groups seek to foment war between races.

Those who seek to bring Americans together through common language, history, and idea,  to celebrate diversity, the many cultures that have enriched our country, are deemed racists, haters, and even terrorists.

As an Anglican, I have been part of congregations of mixed race and heritage. The Anglican Church, stemming from Britain and her Commonwealth, was and is a universal church, finding its way to Asia, India, Africa, and the Americas. We have members and clergy from all parts of the world. The native culture learned English as well as the Gospel message of salvation, but Bibles were translated into their own language as well. All this continues.

We celebrate an individual’s talents, gifts that will make our parish life vibrant.

And it is the common faith, common language, and common history as freedom-loving Americans that has made this globalism within a parish family thrive. It is Christianity that has brought freedom to those enslaved, whether chained by sin or by man.

Today I fear there is legislation by decree that threatens our wonderful melting pot. There is also a silencing of those who object, a silencing carried out by powerful interests joining to solidify their power: big business, big tech, big media, big government, big trade unions. These sectors use the politics of division to silence objections to twenty-first segregation and enslavement that they see as beneficial, at least to their own sector. 

For when speech is silenced, debate dies, respect for others, their opinions or skin color or belief system, turns into hatred and demonization. When academia becomes the training ground for groupthink, and fear of reprisal keeps students and faculty in lockstep, the next generation will march to the same tune, wear the same uniform, think the same thoughts. The boot in the face associated with dictatorships is near.

One hopes for the voiceless to find their voices, to stand up when they are told to fold, to hope when they are told to despair, to light the darkness of our world.

Christians understand freedom and its importance to practicing their faith of freedom. We have sent missionaries to their martyrdoms for centuries in the name of the faith and in the name of freedom to practice that faith. We understand objective truth and are attuned to slippery lies. We are trained in logic through theology and apologetics (even the Nicene Creed), in language through Holy Scripture, the ultimate Word, and in joy through experience of the holy, the divine, the eternal in sacraments, liturgy, and prayer. We understand the nature of love and its expression, sacrifice. We submit to Love’s demands in the Ten Commandments, the cardinal virtues, the fruits of the spirit, the Beatitudes. Amidst the chaos and suffering of this world, we see a greater good and we look to a greater Love when Christ leads us into the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. We know and grow to fully understand that this life is but a prelude to one of immense joy, but also justice.

We also see clearly that our present world must follow a similar path, live by a similar rule, be part of a similar hope, that the Judeo-Christian rule of righteousness, sometimes called natural law, gives order, secures peace, encourages individual dignity, and celebrates the sanctity of life.

We are told by powerful interests to erase the past, ignore or rewrite history to suit those in power. This is not our way. This is not the way of truth, of healing, of peace. Rather, history that celebrates freedom and human dignity in its heroes is a history that unites us. We must learn from our past, the rights and the wrongs.

We are told by powerful interests that speech must be controlled. This is not our way. This is not the way of artists, of writers, of painters, of musicians. This is not the way of beauty. This is not the way of celebrating the sanctity of every person made in the image of God.

It is a time for truth-telling, for honoring America’s promise, for hope that burns in Lady Liberty’s torch. It appears that it is a sputtering flame, a flame that all the world is watching carefully. For America is an exceptional land, one we cannot take for granted. America needs us, needs our words, our prayers, our love of one another. Liberty’s flame must burn bright.

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