Sunday, February 13, 2011

Progressive Despair vs Judeo-Christian Hope and a Future: Confession as Freedom

Gagdad Bob, of the blog One Cosmos, discusses Vanderleun's musings on the enshrinement of the seven deadly sins by the progressive left, and continues a series in which he expands on the ways in which each infect our world - and our souls - today. There's a common element in the activities, plans and machinations of progressives around the world: the inability to see a future. (Bob also approaches this topic here.)

My own thoughts:

We live in a time of incredible portent. The technological revolution has made commonplace the restoration of sight to the blind, the acquisition of knowledge at rates exceeding the reach of the most brilliant minds, and the expansion of economic wealth for ordinary people beyond the dreams of ancient kings. My little blog receives visitors from every continent. Each day, a new frontier is breached. How can we not look toward a future even brighter than that we've already lived?

And yet the progressive search for doom has trapped itself in an unrelenting "opposite day", turning its back to the sun and declaring shadows as substance. Destroying even the fundamental hope of pregnancy and childbearing, they can no longer really speak of the future, or even, of Now.

Where did it go wrong? The farther these elements of society wander from the Judeo-Christian point of view, the more intently they scrutinize the past for those curiously desperate accusations to make against... anyone, really, of integrity, of personal wholeness, of true good. In the parlance of the Charismatics, they become "the accuser of the brethren".

It's vengeance, of course, the stuff of unending feuds, but so strangely expressed in contorted histories of disjointed embroidered moments. Much of what is labeled "justice" is simply revenge, and revenge is insatiable. There is no hope in that, no future, just an endless turning of the millstones of the past.

But the future does, indeed, exist, it is hopeful, it is attainable.

The future belongs to the ordinary, the conservative, the traditional: the people who accept the past will inherit the future.

Christianity, and Judaism from which Jesus was born, understand the past as real, concrete proof of God's work in the world and our role within it. Christians understand that God sees all of our actions, that in the end of time, we will each be called to give an accounting, and face the Judgment of God for every error and evil we have done or thought, including - and perhaps especially - the most secret.

Christians also know we need not fear this, because Jesus Christ Himself faced that judgment on our behalf, is our advocate, and put Himself in our place.

Having this understanding that there are no secrets, that all secrets eventually come to light, colors our approach to the world. It develops the conscience, and the capacity for courage, it protects personal innocence and integrity.

We are taught to try to live so that we don't have anything to hide, and just as important: to admit out loud to other people when we do miss the mark. To confess our sins - not in defense when faced with accusers, never in attempt to save ourselves from the mob - but in advance, to make them known by our own volition, when those sins are still hidden and unknown, to someone we respect so that we can admit the shame.

All Christian denominations practice some form of confession, whether spontaneously to the gathered congregation at an evening altar call, privately to one's minister, or to a priest through sacramental Confession.

One does not have to be a Christian for confession of wrongdoing or wrongthinking to restore the health of the spirit and the power over the mob. The same principle is a key element of Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps, which shares with Christianity the insistence on assuming real personal responsibility for wrongdoing and the need for support from a Power greater than ourselves to live in harmony with ourselves and our fellow men.

By confessing to someone else even before anyone knows, we grow immediately stronger. We become confident and remove the fear and regret that guilty secrets cause. We know ourselves better and have more courage and more honesty. We walk in good faith - in Good Faith - in the sunshine again.

Suddenly, we are invulnerable, back in God's light, because we control our own destiny - and we know it. No one can blackmail us or harm us by gossip or rumor for we have no hidden guilt. We can accept the worldly consequences knowing God has forgiven us. Neither crowds nor mobs can intimidate us. Those who try will be confounded. We are freed to do our best work, enjoy our best life.

Thus it is not unusual to see men and women stand before a congregation and give their testimony: sharing their shame and their redemption, that others might share their courage as well, and take part in the Great Forgiveness that makes life - and a genuine future - possible.

And what of Judgment Day?
Our Lord said "Now is the judgment of this world."
and we are in the Now, for He has come,
and comes always.
A choice must be made. Now.
And yet,
and yet, it is not and never too late to turn
and beg a brighting glance from The Son
Who shields the searing rapture
and offers a place near the Fire:
a safe place,
a warm place,
wherein the dark can't hide,
wherein all quiet bides,
and all find Peace.

He has Called me, and I came
from out of the darkness,
a creature of the shade:
blinking, fearful, shy.
He wrapped me in a washed-soft quilt
and cuddled like a child, I drowse,
breathing to His Whisper.

Poem by Tina Howard

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