"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Resist the Beginnings

Jesus Falls for the First Time

See the complete set of paintings at Church's "Anti-War" Paintings Draw Fire

Larry Rassmussen distills the lessons learned (and since forgotten?) by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the 1930's:

"Moral-spiritual formation, with its powers of discernment, was a needed habit of life before crises arose so that fascism could be sharply challenged before it became entrenched. 'Resist the beginnings' is the requirement. Resist the beginnings of compromises that dull the moral senses and take their ease in a life of cheap grace. Resist the beginnings that give evil, willed blindness, and civic passivity a foothold. Don’t let the right eye wink at complicity or the left hand abet it. Resist becoming unwitting accomplices to an errant leader. Resist all the places in your own soul that give way. A discerning spirituality is as vital as the right politics and indispensable to it." - Larry Rasmussen, The Steep Price of Grace, Sojourners, February 2006.

As Bonhoeffer said it so well, "Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sins which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves." - The Cost of Discipleship.

Resist the beginnings. Resist the beginnings of the call to surrender, to be ordinary, to live 'unpretentiously', without 'arrogance', or bringing attention to ourselves. In fact we are called to incarnate, not to pretend, to incarnate peace while violence rages in our unpretentiousness.

Many were meek before us: "Religious leadership, too, was largely conservative. Many Protestant clergy shared the nationalism of the Nazis, their disdain for the 'loose morals' of the ’20s, and their hostility to the liberal-secular state. Hitler in turn deftly employed God-talk to describe Germany’s calling and destiny. In his very first radio address he declared that 'the National Government would preserve and defend those basic principles on which the nation has been built.' These principles, he said, 'regard Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life.' 'Positive Christianity” was the tag-phrase the party used for its platform and 'Kinder, K├╝che, Kirche' ('Children, Kitchen, Church') became something of a mantra."

Perhaps it is only the incompetence of our current Fox-Hitlers that buffers us from Bonhoeffer's fate. "American Christianity" has laid the foundation of a mystical revival, but, as yet, we are still uncatalyzed and survive in the stew of tepid democracy which nonetheless we daily make ourselves less worthy of. But how long can we depend on this incompetence?

"In early 1933, a movement in the Protestant churches, dubbing itself the 'German Christians,' rallied in support of the Nazi Party’s call for Aryan Christianity and the consolidation of the provincial churches into a single state-coordinated 'Reich Church' headed by a 'Reich Bishop.' The aggressive, anti-Semitic nationalism of these German Christians, their deference to Hitler as the rescuer of a humiliated Germany, and their support of the party’s platform alarmed other Protestants. Numerous Christians of Jewish heritage were in the Protestant church, and 37 of them were pastors. The state declared all of them 'full Jews' and began stripping them of their civil rights and liberties. This racist push for Aryan Christianity precipitated a counter movement, soon called the 'Confessing Church.' What would and could the churches do?" - Larry Rasmussen, The Steep Price of Grace, Sojourners, February 2006.

Will you keep awake and watch with me?

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