The Ugly Christian
Back in 1958 Eugene Burdick and William Lederer wrote the book The Ugly American. It told the story of the hapless efforts of the United States in a fictional country in Southeast Asia (widely regarded to represent the US efforts in Vietnam) in the attempts of America to fulfill its quest to “contain” Communism and therefore continue to implement Truman’s famous doctrine.
Originally, the desire of the authors was to write a factual study, but the publishers persuaded them to transition to a work of fiction. In doing this they were afforded greater creativity and even more freedom to both apply their version of “truth” as well as greatly expanding the means by which their work could be disseminated among various competing ideologies. In other words, the work became a tool for those who espoused a decidedly anti-American and anti-Western philosophy.
Sadly, Burdick and Lederer accurately portrayed the reality of the American efforts in this region of the world. Neil Sheehan in his book A Bright Shining Lie further highlights the incredible incompetence spawned by unchecked bureaucracy during the Vietnam War. The cold reality dogging American efforts was reflected in the words of the Apostle Paul, our “good was evil spoken of.”
In many ways, Christians today are far too often and too easily viewed as ugly. In my own denomination, there seems to be this almost puerile obsession with the habits of those outside of Christianity yet all the while they are oblivious to the ugly and insidious nature of the accepted behaviors within Christianity. What is sad is many of these unattractive attitudes and practices come from those who are regarded as leaders and pastors.
Many of the problems arise from the assumptions made of those professing the name of Christ. A whole industry has been built to fortify an almost revisionist-style history portraying the United States as a country began with solely Christian values. While the underlying philosophy of our founding fathers was a definitely a Judeo-Christian paradigm, we were not and are not now a Christian nation.
There were many of our founders and leaders who were familiar with Christian nomenclature and philosophy—some even reared by strongly Christian parents—yet for every reference point given to “prove” the evangelical bent of these men there are equally as many proofs countering those claims. Even though evangelical Christianity did not infuse every one of our founders, there were many genuine Christians among our founders.
So should those who are Christian handicap themselves by not referring to the importance of Christianity on the formation of this country? Not at all; yet Christians cannot continue with their arrogant attitudes and patronizing actions if they (including myself) truly desire to reach those who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I wouldn’t want you to think I am immune from such silliness either. Far too often I “catch” myself thinking some incredibly stuffy thought and then something inside me (I believe it is the Holy Spirit who resides in all who have a relationship with Christ) points out my foolishness. My plan is to write a “series” (I usually can’t stand multi-part anything; I’m making attempts at maturity here so bear with me . . . . .) dealing with the subject began in this post.
My desire is the same as the United States Senator Adlai Stevenson: “Today, I come to you with the task of speaking; your task is that of listening. Let us hope we all end at the same time.”
Hey, it’s a hope!
Seriously? Getting What We’ve Gotten!
Posted by Jim Grieme
While forgetfulness is a universally experienced bane of humanity, what is now being considered—and even demanded—by many in today’s culture has not so much been forgotten as it has never been learned.
To be forgetful is one thing entirely and is a forgivable problem. Those with family members who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease understand the personal anguish associated with those who have lapsed into the terribly increasing nothingness of those diseases. These families would never blame their loved ones for forgetting; they only possess a deep longing for its cure.
Yet to not know, to be controlled by a veritable arrogance of this agnostic lack of situational awareness, often produces derision in the observers of those who refuse to know. The realization of those who witness this pandemic of ignorance is this: even if they had the opportunity to show those caught up in their blissful celebration, those affected would never desire to see the presentation of reality nor do they possess the mindset to appreciate what they would deem as an antagonistic view.
Their reaction would demonstrate the wisdom of not casting one’s pearls before swine; they would eat as food which should be digested as wisdom.
Ideas have consequences. Words have meaning. Meaning demands that absolute truth must exist. Truth ignored will bring consequences.
I do not believe in an esoteric version of truth; I believe truth is embodied in a Person. There exists One who is Truth. This Truth is absolute. This Truth exists. Someone may choose to not believe in Him, yet He cannot be dismissed or ignored; true, one may attempt to do so, but the consequences are profound.
If something in the wisdom presented by humanity—whether philosophically, scientifically, or practically—if such wisdom is true, the One who embodies Truth is the originator and the owner of such Truth.
Too many of the ideas being spread like nightsoil on a field are being seriously considered as viable options to consider. Are people forgetful? Yes, but that’s part of being human. Are people ignorant? Absolutely! Yet ignorance is an addressable weakness; yet to do so one must acknowledge their lack of knowledge and seek to overcome that lack with knowledge.
Today, because of the prevalence and overwhelming acceptance of postmodernity, everyone can determine their own truth. If someone speaks an idea into existence, then we are forced to accept it, unless the speaker is deemed to be unenlightened by those who “know the truth”—who know their truth—and then it is derided and rejected.
To get well when one is sick, it isn’t the fact a doctor exists somewhere and because there is a doctor “out there somewhere” the sickness will be cured. No, the one who is sick must admit they are sick. Then they must seek out a doctor who possess the “true” treatment regimen which will then make the one who is sick better or well.
Education, filling people with “knowledge,” will not cure the diseases which now wrack our society and culture; in many ways, unfettered knowledge possessed by those who lack wisdom, contributes to the turmoil we are currently experiencing.
The English, Franciscan friar, William of Ockham, invented what has been attributed to him as “Ockham’s Razor.” When a problem has more than two answers which address all the facts of the problem, the simplest answer will be the one most often correct.
The answer to the complex problems facing our world, our society and our culture, should not be addressed by complex and obviously recycled answers. It is time to set aside arrogance, to reject labels of unsophistication and patriarchy, and consider the One who is Truth, Life and the only Way out of our predicament. Jesus Christ is the only viable answer to the chaos we are witnessing and experiencing.
Unfortunately, many will reject this answer. Instead they will opt to once again keep doing what has always been done.
And they will keep receiving what has always been received.
Posted in Social Commentary
Tags: absolute truth, agnosticism, arrogance, consequences, culture, forgetfulness, idiocy, ignorance, Jesus Christ, knowledge, Meaning, pandemic, pearls before swine, postmodernism, society, wisdom