Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"I Thank Thee, O God,"

"The soul looking at the crowd of other offenders does not, in the first place, have time to become aware of its own sins and to afflict itself by penance for its errors; on the contrary, by comparison with those who are worse, it takes on, besides, a certain deceptive appearance of righteousness."

The Long Rules of St. Basil the Great, Q.6

There, in a nutshell, is my problem with most brands of liberation theology or other 'advocacy' theologies. They tend to devolve into politics, in which the faultline between good and evil is no longer the battleground of every Christian heart, including my own, but is rather between those in power and those needing empowerment. Without neglecting the need to work for justice, the withdrawal of the monk addresses the deep injustice that each of us harbors internally. Every Christian is, of course, called to this same conversion. In today's West, politics so frequently replaces religion as a bearer of meaning, and in these cases, it is no great accomplishment to point out the failings of politicos. As St. Basil points out, this can be a cheap way of feeling pretty good about myself. Would we perform any better if we were the politicians, and actually had the power to make grave error and cause great good or harm? Speaking for myself, I can say with assurance that I could not.

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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