Dangerous Shame

24 10 2008

Conscientious objectors are becoming more prolific lately, and while I might have been tempted to give my own opinion of such objections, I’d rather invoke somma da Clive Staples action:

[Screwtape (the demon) writes:]

Let [the Christian] begin by treating the Patriotism or Pacificsm as part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirt, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the ’cause’, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments in can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism.

The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a  means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of wordly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours–and the more ‘religious’ (on those terms) the more securely ours.

The Screwtape Letters, Ch. 7.

First, let me say that I am passionate about a couple of causes: The sex/slave trade has become egregiously profitable in numerous countries; human life is being continually and abhorrently devalued from both ends ever faster, via abortion and what some charitably refer to as euthanasia; and our country is more concerned about the loss of some of its wealth than the erosion of its foundation and real strength.

That said, I’ve seen far too many people in the last few years who can (and do) give impassioned pleas for one worthy cause or another, while simultaneously caring next to nothing for their neighbor and their church.  They spend countless hours to raise awareness for deserving issues, then spend all their money on music and food and entertainment.  (note: money isn’t necessarily indicative of the heart, and I realize that I myself spend more than my fair share of money on frivolity as well.  A better way to phrase this would have something to do with the relationship with one and one’s assets, but it’s already been a few days since I posted this so I’ll just hope that you skip to the next paragraph and assume that I was tired when I posted this.  Which I wasn’t.)

While it’s all well and good to care about those suffering around the world, the state of my generation is downright frightening.  I might also add that I’m certainly no pristine example of perfecting any kind of balance between the needs of my neighbor, the plight of the world, and my own soul; few will be.  However, until the church begins to be inundated with believers who serve the God they worship on Sunday morning with their free time on a Saturday afternoon, I fear that the cries of the world will continue to grow louder; and as long as the same Christians who beg for your money to help bring justice to our society continue to serve mammon in their own life, I fear for the church and its souls.

And no, I do not see this viewpoint conflicting with my desire to be a honky-tonk pianist.



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