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September 28, 2005

Act Now

Note: This is no way intending to sound preachy; just some thoughts I've had.

I'm learning how to handle this delicate balance, to believe passionately in something and yet to accep that others believe in a different manner, though I may be vehemently convinced that they are wrong. Completely, objectively wrong. As a Christian, I believe in sovereignty but surely that doesn't mean that I don't care and believe that truth - objective truth - has a place in history, economics and the arts. And yet all around I see those with their heads in the clouds - blinders on the sides of their faces - pretending that nothing in this world is wrong. I can't accept that. I won't accept that.

I had a friend once who sang for a punk band. He was an agnostic to the best of my knowledge, though he may be an atheist. (Nick, do you know?) The band always played this one particular song about my friend's uneasy relationship with some Christian believers in his own life and before each time, he would say the song was about people "whose eyes are on the heavens while the world around them is burning like a hell." I thought then, as I do now, that such an analysis was unfair in a general sense, but all too often it was accurate in many specific cases. I, however, won't apologize for looking to Heaven. For when I see Heaven, I see the Cross. And though I see, ultimately, the most significant portrayal of love imaginable in the Cross of Christ, I believe, like Bonhoffer, that the call to believe in this Love is a call to follow, a call to die. This love is not merely sappy or sentimental. The call to come and die is a call to sacrifice and sometimes even, as Bonhoffer sorrowfully demonstrated, a call to fight.

I can't be silent about moral decay in my culture. I don't mean MTV. I don't mean Desperate Housewives or Sex and the City. I mean the state of moral apathy that crassly suggests that this nothing worth dying for, that there is nothing worth sacrifice, that every system of values - whether religious, cultural, social or economic - is valid, equal and good. That doesn't mean we should ever hate or disdain others. But it does mean that even in my desire as a believer to be humble and merciful, I should not feel guilty for believing in a sense of truth and justice, knowing that standards do in fact exist, and the defense of objective truth is a worthy pursuit.

As an example, and I say this as one who loves living in a college town, I suppose I am simply tired of seeing college students (even believers) live as though nothing matters outside their own world. There is suffering in this world. There is injustice in this world. Slavery still exists. There are ways in which we can demonstrate mercy to all kinds of people (first and foremost) and yes, in some cases, other living things. Religious freedom is endangered around the world. There is ample injustice in America, as well, though I would caution that trying to fix any economic problems in America or around the world, in, say, I don't know...Africa?, by tax and spend programs is like trying to fill a round hole with a square peg.

Posted by Matt at September 28, 2005 10:56 AM

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John Wesley saw moral decay in England, and decided to do something about it. He rose every morning at 4 AM, spent two hours in prayer; and also fasted two days every week.

John Wesley said: "God does nothing but in answer to prayer."

Sadly, we Americans aren't that desperate yet. What do you think it will take for us to get that desperate?

Posted by: Larry at September 28, 2005 12:48 PM

Good rant, Matt. College campuses, once the heart of moral anguish and social activism, have devolved to become the center of faux protest, self-centeredness, and antiquated liberalism.

God will use your frustration and recognition of great moral and social ills to be addressed.

Posted by: Jim Jewell at September 29, 2005 07:44 AM

You came close to the problem towards the end.

It goes beyond a dearth of personal responsibility. Young people are being taught by our culture that not only can individual action not affect the system and society, it is counterproductive to try, because you are robbing yourself of time and attention that could be devoted to your own betterment and comfort. A code of honor and personal responsibiltiy is a futile as the dreams of a White Russian Archduke in Paris waiting on tables.

That is why young people cheat so often in school - the concept that you are cheating nobody but yourself is archaic, as spellcheck and the internet will always supply you with answers, and ethics are for losers who don't want to get ahead.

It is nihilism, it is unChristian, it is selfish, and it is vast.

Posted by: Peter Porcupine at September 30, 2005 04:07 AM

So, if we don't solve problems in Africa (or the US) by taxing and spending, how do we solve them?

AIDS in Africa, for instance. How do we deal with it?

Children growing up without substantial parenting and support in the US, how do we deal with it?

Please don't read anything in to these questions, they are only questions in search of an answer.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at October 1, 2005 02:59 PM