It isn’t unusual or surprising to see extremes in society. It is to be expected. The world has been and always be a jacked up place. Even with that understanding, it is difficult to watch extremism in good things. For example, church. Any church. Pick one or several, it doesn’t seem to matter. There has always been a diverse understanding of belief about the christian faith. I am willing to accept that each individual grows in understanding and the likeness of Christ at their own pace. What bothers me greatly is when the ends of the spectrum become the singular voice of choice for people. As if total unfailing affirmation of one or the other is an affront to reason, nature, man and God. I can turn on the television and hear christian lyte mega churches preach prosperity and self-help. Or, I can watch another show that makes a point of graphically explaining the horrors of sin and the certain damnation of hell for even a passing thought of ___________.
The carrot or the stick? I have considered deleting a few blogs in my reader. Not because I don’t agree with the message, but rather how it is presented and how the subject is treated. If a noble thought or deed cannot be presented without causing harm, I don’t think it is worth talking about. What type of harm? Dignity and grace. Anything that robs humans of dignity, or does not point to the Grace offered by Christ is based in two things, ego and fear. Period.
I consider myself an expert on these two things. I cannot always tell you what the best thing to do is. I can however share with you all the ways I have screwed something up. I have spent years looking at others to avoid looking at my own behavior. I haven’t (always) been vocal about it. That doesn’t matter though. Not really. Here is The Confíteor:
I confess to almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
My own thoughts have revolved around, “…in my thoughts and in my words….in what I have failed to do…” Don’t get me wrong, I have acted the fool on numerous occasions in my life. More often though, my own transgressions have been in thought and words. It is easy to assign blame for blatant mortal sins. Murder, rape, adultery and more. What I am beginning to understand even more now is the insidious nature of sin. Take gossip. We have all done it. Have you ever considered that gossip (character asassination) is murder? It really is just as destructive too. It affects every person who hears it. I will spare you the insight to how I have sinned, “in my thoughts”. Let’s just say there are people I have killed a few times in my head.
I’ve come full circle in my ramblings. The carrot or the stick? Which should I choose? Which should I be? I think the answer is neither.
I’d rather speak of my own failings and point to Christ on the cross. I’d rather talk about the Real Presence of the Eucharist and all the ways it has profoundly changed me, and continues to change me.
I choose Christ.