Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Raucous Refugee Rant

Let me introduce you to an idiot:

As of writing this profoundly inane comparison has been retweeted 20,000 times, thus proving that at least 20,000 people lack more than two functioning brain cells with which to think. I mean, we can play games with this all day. For example:

Sarcasm aside, the comparison fails for the simple fact that it has nothing in common with the current situation. The Holy family wasn't fleeing war, they were reporting for a census. Their move didn't come on the heels of a massive terrorist attack, it was government ordered. They weren't seeking asylum in a foreign country, they were going to their home town. The inn keeper wasn't heartless, he was out of space. He didn't turn them away, he let them stay in the manger!

Other than that, good job Mr. Willis! Way to use that guy you don't believe in to shame those people who do!

Then there's this:
Way to show Christian charity there Governor. Glad to see that Texas is a place that welcomes the least of these. But seriously, this is profoundly silly and is clearly a ploy to his base. Texas, being a state, does not have any real say over federal immigration policies. Once an immigrant or refugee is inside the federal borders he or she is free to move about the country. No papers.

That all being said, I have no idea what to actually do about the current refugee crisis. Kevin William at NRO has some good thoughts on the matter which essentially boil down to "proceed with caution." And happily enough that conversation is happening, with Democrats like Senator Schumer joining Republicans in saying a pause in immigration might be necessary.

Unhappily, its being overshadowed by the idiots throwing dung at each other. As our illustrious president demonstrated mere hours ago when he said he can't think of a "more potent recruitment tool for Isis" than Republican rhetoric on Syrian refugees. Yeah. I'm sure all those drone bombings of weddings were way less upsetting.

All this posturing is unhelpful, polarizing, and generally divides people into two equally asinine camps. The "how unchristian of you" camp ignores the very real security challenge posed by the present situation, while the "keep 'em out" camp ignores the very real human suffering that we ought to alleviate as much as is reasonably achievable.

As Kevin Williamson points out, the question isn't "do we help refugees?", of course we do. The question is do we help these refugees at this time in these numbers, under these circumstances. The answer to that depends greatly on your own values, the perceived threat level, and personal risk tolerance. On a national level we'll only find an answer through honest and open discussion.

So, basically, never.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The one divorce Christians celebrate

I wonder how many people celebrating Luther's posting of the 95 thesis have actually read them. For one thing, they are amazingly Catholic. For another, they only really cover the sale of indulgences.

When I was younger I was under the impression that Luther defiantly nailed a list of 95 problems with the Roman Catholic Church to that door in Wittenberg. Later I learned that this was actually really common practice when posting questions for debate, which is exactly what Luther was doing. He was asking for debate over a single subject. A very Catholic subject.
To be sure within 13 years Luther would be reduced to calling Catholics "papist asses", but you'd never know it from reading the 95 thesis, which contains such statements as:
25. That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.
But all this is secondary to the idea I've been trying to get into words for the last hour or so: What a sad thing to celebrate.

No matter which side of the reformation you find yourself on, one thing is for certain: We are not a unified church, and I can think of nothing sadder. Celebrating our fragmentation is like celebrating a divorce. Christ says in John 17:

20“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."
That they may become perfectly one. Perfectly. One cannot argue that Christians today are perfectly one. Perfect is too high a standard. There are major contradictory teachings on issues of great importance. We disagree on things as basic as how one attains salvation! Let alone the role of baptism! Maybe we should not celebrate the existence of such great schisms.

For a millennium after Christ the Church existed as one more or less unified body. Even up until the 16th century there were only two or three major divisions, and they were more similar than not. So whether or not you think the Reformation is still a necessary thing today, this day should be a day that reminds us of our failure to be one. Of our failure to show the world the perfect unity of God's love.

This is a day of sadness. The painful anniversary of a divorce that literally caused wars. It feels odd to see so many of my friends celebrating it.