Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Eschatology & The Great American Yawn
This summer American Christians were confronted with visual evidence that government-supported agencies murder humans, butcher them for their parts, and ship their bloody livers and heads in vacuum-sealed wrap to dark satanic laboratories where their carcasses are used to prolong the lives of the privileged.
Visual evidence including bloody arms and heads on trays, and executives laughing about it over glasses of wine.
What was the response to the revelation that our worse imaginations, and more wickednesses beyond our imaginings, were happening in our own backyards?
A great and cosmic yawn.
American Christians have been adamant for years that babies-in-belly are fully fledged human. One presumes they still believe it. Those were actually images of severed human arms and heads and organs spread out on trays like so many cannibalized parts.
Right? I mean, that's right, isn't it? We weren't imagining things?
The fact that a majority of Americans haven't seen the videos does nothing to ameliorate the terribleness of this great yawn. It's a symptom of it. We have gazed into the maw of the monster and not given a flip. We have not wept. We have not freaked out. We have not fallen to our knees. We have not told our friends or made demands of our pastors.
On the low end, some forty million adults attend church weekly. That may be only one in eight Americans, but that's an enormous number of people, a number that could not be ignored if they were truly outraged. But they're not.
Do they not believe that gestating babies are actually human?
No, they do. Surely they do. It's easier to accept their deaths than it would be to accept that every single person in Charlotte had been killed over the course of a year. But they believe they're human.
The problem is that American Christians live where the banality of evil meets with the banality of life. Banality: it's so lacking in originality that it's obvious and boring. That's a dictionary definition, and it's your life.
The people doing the fighting here are the people who are crazy enough to believe that life and time are going somewhere. That there's an original story to be told. Abortionists are vague on the beginning and end, but they have faith in progress to a greater good. Humanity is going somewhere, is evolving, and abortion is a necessary part of this moral journey humanity is on.
The Christians who are actually in this fight, and most other fights, are of two varieties. First are the pessimists. They believe that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Everything gets worse, things fall apart, there's war in Jerusalem, the Antichrist conquers the world, and Jesus comes back to lay the smack down and take his redeemed with him. The pessimists believe that they have been born again to fight, to fight against encroaching evil until the choppers come, saving as many as possible before the whole place gets napalmed. These include Pentecostals, Charismatics, fundamentalist Baptists, and a multiplicity of breakaway evangelical groups.
Second are the optimists. Some are ecclesiologicaly optimistic, others are culturally. They believe that the world is getting better all the time, that the Kingdom of Heaven is kicking down the doors of Hell itself as the Gospel begins to cover the world as the waters cover the sea. The optimists also believe they were born to fight, coming into world with D-Day behind them and Berlin in their sights. The return of Jesus and Resurrection and Judgment will be the fulfillment of a centuries-long campaign of conquest. The cultural optimists would include Presbyterians, the Reformed, historical Baptists, Lutherans. The ecclesiological optimists include Roman Catholics, Anglicans, the Orthodox. And yes, there is overlap.
Although the Christian pessimists and optimists have different views of Christian time and history, and although they don't like each other very much, they both believe the following of life on this mortal coil: the Christian life is one of house-to-house fighting. It's the story of the battle for a city.
Most American Christians, however, are neither optimists nor pessimists. Although no human can live
without confessing that life is a struggle, it is hard for these Christians to imagine life as fighting. Life simply is. Jesus saves, we live (faithfully, please), we die, Jesus comes back. As it was for grandpappy, is for me, and shall be for sonny boy. There is an idea for most of them that right around the end things will get really bad for Christians, but until then, it's a waiting game. Waiting for Jesus.
This is the great cause of the vast indifference of Christians, not only in the face of the holocaust of abortion, but before all the injustice, cruelty, and arrogance in this world. They do not really believe that do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God are battle orders. They believe they're personal moral injunctions. That life is a series of events. But to the pessimists and the optimists, life is a great commission, and the Great Commission is a storyline, a headline. Man Saves Child From House Fire. Homesteaders Work To Reclaim Floodlands.
Waiting is dull. Waiting is wicked. Waiting makes you accept evil in a way that even those who think evil wins in this world won't.
Waiting is wicked, y'all. American Christians live in the exact spot where the banality of evil meets with the banality of life. We believe that life happens every day, some do God's will, some do evil, then we die. A life without direction, without a story, has an ending just the same: death. Christians without a story are dangerous in the wrong way; they ally themselves with death and entropy. The pessimists run at Death to fight him. The waiters shake hands with him.
You know what the Nazis had that German Christians didn't? An end to the world. A goal for men. A story for history. A vision for all things. But the Christians of Germany left Dietrich Bonhoeffer to die with his handful of brave men. "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless."
We are not waiting to begin our stories. Our story is now. And it is war.
The mirth of the Rohirrim was a torrent of laughter and a flashing of swords.