Continued from Part 1.
Back to my friend’s question, the “conundrum” of immigration. Because he is a Christian, as am I. And does not Jesus say all over the place how important it is to help the needy, to feed the poor, and to clothe the naked? Wasn’t Jesus himself a refugee for a few years? Haven’t we seen those words in every meme from the “know-nothings”, just back from their massive march, who – putting away their little pink cap all of a sudden found religion?
The answer is that of course Christians are to have compassion; love overflowing. Sacrifice and even sometimes martyrdom (there’s more stars on the back wall of my university than there are at Langley). But, and let me write this slowly, these only have value to God if they are voluntary. We only find our Christianity, our faith, in individual decisions as a response to the pull of the spirit on our heartstrings. The progressives seem to want to give government that role, the great god in Washington that can legislate “morality”. Replacing of God with the State. Which is where the freakout is coming from, isn’t it? The other side took over the state, and the gun; now they are left with only the power of their ideas – which they are finding are not very powerful after all, rooted as they are in a very limited understanding of the world around them or even their own history.
And of course it should go without saying that Donald Trump is not Jesus’s emissary in the White House, as neither was Barack Obama or George W. Bush. Their job is not to take Jesus’s teachings and apply them in policymaking. Oh, I know that’s controversial for my Christian friends. And of course I’m not saying that we should not strive to have our leaders be moral, God-fearing people with faith of their own. But their job is to seek out policies that are good for the country. I’d just as much want Trump to unthinkingly take in a flood of folks that exceed the carrying capacity of our “carnaged” country; than I would want him to “turn the other cheek” when the terrorists hit.
We are not a theocracy – and Jefferson was very, very careful about assuring this was not so. We are a majority Christian country, to be sure – and it would behoove us to stay that way because so much of our values and our common culture comes from a common faith. But public policy is not made by scrolling through Matthew or Leviticus or Revelations. It is made by understanding the situation of the country (which actually means visiting it often and – yes – even talking to us ‘red state rubes’); and by using experience and our shared history to decide upon policies that are more effective; choosing them against policies that have been proven by history and time to have been less effective.
But what about Christianity? I must be a heartless, heathen bastard – wanting to let people starve to death. Think what you will – but anybody who knows me, who has read about or listened to my stories of 20 years in the trenches from Eastern Congo to Pakistan to Uganda and Mali and Nicaragua and on would know that is unfair, and untrue. I am a natural product of a country that cares a great deal. America has been the greatest defender of the unfree in the history of history. Fighting the Axis powers, the Soviet Union, the Bolivarian Alliance and radical Islam; sending piles of our own money ($300 billion in private donations) uncoerced to sponsor children and fight hunger and disease. Did you know it was the Rotary Club that ended polio (although, unfortunately, wars have brought that dreaded disease back)? It’s the government’s job to keep us safe – and our job to show our compassion, as a product of our individual faith. It’s the government’s job to keep us strong and united; so we can continue to fight not only for the wave of 60,000,000 refugees so hurting right now; but those after the next war, and the next war, and the war after that.
I once gave a speech for a fundraiser in the Midwest called “Charity should remain in the church”. Boy the “know-nothings” were upset about that one – the idea that Christianity (and other faiths) should ‘own’ do-gooding. That the government – with its gun – doesn’t really have a role in our national story of compassion. Recently I’ve even heard some “know-nothing” friends saying we should tax the church, as if it was some sort of corporation – as if government ‘charity’ cannot be swiftly turned against the needy as a result of one vote-gone-wrong.
Alas – complicated topics all, and I hope my reflections and thoughts – hard earned – have added some value. If not don’t troll me. I’d go on, but fitting this into 800 words has been a challenge. So instead I suggest you read something yourselves. Pick up a copy of “Western Civilization”, and then read “Acts” – but, for the love of God, please stop reading your Facebook feed, leading you as it seems to be doing right over a cliff.