“The moment two men realize they are brothers, they instantly begin to fight.”~G.K. Chesterton, Utopia of Usurers.
“Bonhoeffer was a relentless critic of any way of life that substituted agreeableness for truthfulness.” ~Stanley Hauerwas, Burke Lectureship, University of California.
“No good at all can come from acting before the world as though we knew the Truth, but in reality, we do not.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1932 Youth Peace Rally in Czechoslovakia.
Try reading an essay from G.K. Chesterton every morning while eating your toast. You will have plenty to chew on for the rest of the day. Then round up an incredibly deep lecture on Bonhoeffer and the nature of Truth and listen to it over lunch time. Sprinkle in some rousing exchanges in a Bible Study group in the evening and post-rebuttals ad nauseum in Bloggy land. You have the perfect recipe for a Backbone. And it didn’t require 24 hours of marinating or soaking in whey solution. 😉
Let me explain the above quotes. In the essay (the title of which I forgot), Chesterton is arguing that men must love each other first before they can argue. It is not a particular love; it is a love for all Men. This is the motivation behind revolutionaries. They fight to have the best world for themselves and for their brothers.
But why do we fight? Do we fight at all? Do we have anything to fight about? Do we fight ‘”fair”? Or is it just a nagging quibble that ends in, “Well, this is what the Lord has for me to do.” Or, “As long as we keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing, the rest is details.” We do anything to avoid an honest fight. Actually, what I see in most blogging discourses is a personal statement but no real gauntlets thrown at one’s feet.
Truth has no insignificant details, my friends. Bonhoeffer observed how different American students were than their German counterparts during his time at Union Theological Seminary. (No, not just pro-Nationalist vs. Democracy.) he compares the American students’ spirit as to living in a hostel where the spirit of camaraderie and willingness to help each other pervades. “The American desire to maintain community above all else.” Sounds pretty appealing on the surface.
“W hen it comes to saying the Truth or preserving the community, the latter always prevails. Fairness, not Truth, becomes the primary commitment. ” The result is a leveling of the intellectual demands in American education. There is little motivation to be intellectually [or spiritually] ambitious. Why? Bonhoeffer thought this was part of the Protestant foundations in colonial times. Most of our religious ancestors came here to escape turmoil in Europe. Americans wanted to “forgo the final suffering in order to serve God in quietness and peace.” The steeple house was no longer a place where strife and questioning were tolerated. Americans just made new churches and denominations to escape the rigors of Reformation.
“With his right to flee, the Christian Fugitive has suspended his right to fight.”
As a consequence, “…preaching becomes a series of edifying examples, a ready recital of [the preacher’s] own religious experience, which are not assigned any positively binding character.” Remember last Sunday’s sermon? Sound familiar?
The relations between churches (and Christians) has not been one of Truth-arguing. This might make a favorable situation for unity amongst the bodies of Christ. Not so. “If the struggle for the Truth does not divide the church, then surely the unity of the church must already exist? Where Truth in creedal doctrine is not the reason for argument, church disintegration is greater than anywhere else.”
Succeeding generations of Americans who were free from creedal strife, found it unnecessary to fight over anything. “The fight over the creeds that their grandfathers knew became for them something unChristian. Any intolerance is in itself, unChristian. Because Christians have no place for the conflict Truthfulness requires, they contribute to the secularization of society. Tolerance becomes indifference and indifference leads to cynicism.”
So here how this lengthy essay pertains to my situation:
At once, I will proclaim my intolerance of Immodesty. Here is the kicker: Christian women SHOULD cover their heads. Point blank, there you have it, all out on the table. I am opening myself to conflict. Thank you for disagreeing. It is so refreshing.
And I am writing a book about it.
“Better this than to go on in this vegetating way.”
References: Burke Lecture, Stanley Hauerwas. 1 hour video. Listen to at least the first 30 minutes.
Chesterton, G.K., Utopia of Usurers. Short essays.