Excerpt on the So-Called “Rights of Man”

[W]hen one pauses to think about it even for a moment, it becomes rather uncomfortably clear that the Lord at no time encouraged His followers to go about demanding various and sundry rights to such things as whatever form of government happens to be currently in vogue.

The Declaration of Independence asserted “a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, [evincing] a design to reduce [the Colonies] under absolute despotism.” Regardless of the veracity of such a claim (regarding which there exists some cause for doubt), there can be no question that throughout the history recorded in Sacred Scripture, the Israel of God was often to be found in such straits — whether under the Egyptians, the Babylonians, or the Romans. Nevertheless, at no time did God urge His people to sedition and rebellion — and even when Pharaoh betrayed them and sent an army to return them to slavery, Moses said only: “The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” When the occupying forces of pagan Rome habitually subjected the people of Israel to “a long train of abuses and usurpations,” the Lord, far from urging His followers to stand up for their rights, famously counseled them rather to meekly accept even violent mistreatment, and to freely give to their enemies twice as much as was being stolen. And in the Sermon on the Mount, He commanded not only to allow all men to mistreat us as much as they like, but even to rejoice in this — since it is actually much better for us than the alternative — and above all else, to love even our enemies and repay them only with good for the evil they have done us.

All of this sounds remarkably dissimilar to Jeffersonian democracy and the Rights of Man.

“But wait!” someone cries. “Yes, it is true that the Lord did not command us to demand rights for ourselves. But surely the Lord desires us to protect the rights of others, and especially those of the downtrodden and the oppressed!”

This is so near to the truth that it is exceptionally easy to be seduced by such an idea — and many are they who have been thus seduced. But read the Gospels carefully: the Lord commanded us to treat all men with love. But He did not command us to take it upon ourselves to ensure that all men are treated with love. The modern proclivity to fight evil primarily on the battlefield of society, rather than on the battleground of our own heart, is one of the most pernicious traps into which it is possible for us to fall: it breeds self-righteousness and alienates us from a spirit of repentance, which is the only method by which authentic goodness, virtue, and love can possibly be brought into the world.

If you doubt me, consider this: when Christ came, even His disciples expected Him to bring about an end to the heavy injustices and profound sufferings of His people. But that is not what He came to bring.

He came to bring us the Cross.

Source

Monastery Visit

The chapel when empty

Today, Elgin and I went on our first trip to a monastery. We went with Elgin’s Godfather and another friend from church to St. John Chrysostomos monastery, which is a women’s monastery in the Greek Archdiocese. Because today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, Metropolitan Nathaniel was there presiding, and the service was in the chapel, where is an Icon of the Theotokos Quick-to-Hear, rather than in the big church. The chapel is about the size of our home church, and was packed so full that there was no room left to stand in the Nave, and the Narthex and an adjacent hallway were also filled. The service was entirely in Greek, so my ability to follow along was limited. The singing and chanting of the nuns was extremely beautiful.

Our book selections

Elgin especially enjoyed watching the nuns light the candles on the chandeliers and the set the chandeliers spinning. He did really well during the service, despite having far less freedom to move around and play than he typically does at our church. After the service, we were served a meal of Greek pasta salad, some type of flaky pastry with a spinach center, cold fried fish, and very garlicky mashed potatoes, which we ate outside. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. If you had told me that I would eat cold fried fish and enjoy it, I probably wouldn’t have believed you, but this was some of the best fish I’ve had in my life. After lunch, we went to the bookstore, where Elgin and I each bought a book.

12 Things Every Man Can Do to Improve the Nation and His Community

I’ve been thinking about what I can do to make a difference. My focus is not on reforming society from the top down, but from the bottom up. The survival of Christianity in Russia despite the years of Soviet persecution is an example of how regenerate families eventually destroy degenerate government. The fall of America into today’s cesspool of moral turpitude shows how degeneracy in families quickly leads to degeneracy in government. So here are 12 ways that you can have a positive impact on the nation and your community. None of them require you to be married or have children–these are things that can be done by anyone, no matter his situation.

Read more…12 Things Every Man Can Do to Improve the Nation and His Community

Bad Things don’t Happen to Christians

One of my favorite things to say is “Bad things don’t happen to Christians.” I tell myself this often.

Why?

What the heck do I mean?

Peter was crucified upside down. Stephen was stoned. Paul went through the ringer on the regular. All this I freely admit, yet I maintain that bad things do not happen to Christians.

Maybe I ought to define my terms.

Here’s what I mean by Christian: a person who had subjugated all agenda of his own to the agenda of spreading the message of Christ. A Christian is a person who says “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!

With me so far?

Good. Now we will define “bad things.” Simply put, “bad things” is nothing but shorthand for “things which inconvenience me.” However, we must note that the same situation (“thing”) may be inconvenient or convenient (“bad” or “good”) depending on one’s agenda. If my agenda is to become a concert pianist, traumatic amputation of my left arm is a bad thing. However, if my agenda is to become permanently ineligible for the draft, traumatic amputation of my left arm is a good thing.

Convenience is determined by agenda.

Archie Campbell makes the relationship between convenience and agenda more plain.

This is why bad things don’t happen to Christians: because absolutely nothing is inconvenient to you when your purpose is to preach the Gospel.

Nothing.

So, when I find myself starting to think my circumstances inconvenient, when I start to feel like bad things are happening to me, I remind myself that bad things don’t happen to Christians. I unfuck my priorities, and re-subjugate my agenda to Christ’s. And then I start noticing how the situation I was complaining about presents opportunities to pursue Christ’s agenda.

So, are bad things happening to you? If so, remember that bad things don’t happen to Christians. Change your agenda. Subjugate it to Christ’s. Suddenly, despite being in the very same circumstances, you will find that nothing bad is happening to you.

Might you suffer and be persecuted? Sure, but that’s a cause for rejoicing. Take pleasure in it. It is a gift, a cause for glory and pure joy.

Your focus must be on better and more lasting things than this life.

Bad things don’t happen to Christians.

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. —Colossians 3:1-3