I keep thinking about the quote, which appeared here last week, from a blog post by Fr Dwight Longenecker, in which he raved:
I’m scared because I think that rage is not going to remain behind the mask of niceness for long. We’re seeing that demonic rage lurking beneath the surface beginning to emerge, and when it does take cover. That’s why I’m scared, and that’s why I am very careful what I write on this blog–because I have already had threats from homosexualists that they know where I live and they are out to get me. I have already witnessed the burning acid of irrational rage against the Catholic Church in com boxes and in emails to a priest friend who dared to criticize Obama. I’ve already witnessed the howling, screaming rage against the truth, beauty and goodness of the Catholic Church and her saints. What I’ve seen reminds me of the sub human creatures, taken over by a virulent disease in the film I Am Legend. The once human beings live like zombies in a half life–hiding by day and coming out on the rampage at night ready to kill and devour anyone who is still uninfected by their horrible disease. That’s why I’m scared.
It is apparent to me, anyway, that this priest manifested precisely nothing of the truth, beauty and goodness of the Faith in this post.
This is not to say that there are not nasty homosexual activists. There are. And there are also nasty anti-homosexualists, and I would be willing to bet that most homosexuals have encountered them (“God hates fags” anyone?). Indeed, no ideological or religious faction has a monopoly on nastiness. There are assholes everywhere.
And also kind and well-meaning people, however huge their moral blind spots.
But if I, who am a believing Catholic, find Fr Longenecker’s tirade offensive, what would someone on the other side, someone Fr L suggests is subhuman, think? The question answers itself: this priest, who is a representative of Christ, by speaking like this, can only repulse.
And while this society seems intent on rejecting Christ and Christianity, when one looks at Christianity’s public face who can blame it?
The televangelist, with his impossibly styled hair and Rolex watch and wife made up like a whore with particularly bad taste, preaching a sanctified cargo cult message? The flaccid Church careerist in the Roman collar? The yammering Republicans of EWTN? The Acton Institute cleric, promoting a heartless economic individualism?
Or take the case of Rose Tennant. I have spoken of her before; she is half of “Quinn and Rose”, of the War Room radio show. This is the most ignorant and hateful talk show that I know of, and when one considers the competition that is really saying something. This is the Rose who said of President Obama “I hate him. I just hate him”, who bragged about coating her ammunition with lard for when the time comes to kill Muslims, who savored the fact that the Boston bomber died a long painful death, who said just the other day that God had chosen you, the listener, for this time, when the Tea Party was going to take back America. The liberals, she said, had pushed us down. And when you’re down, what are you going to do? You are going to bite and claw and scratch your way back up.
Curiously, she offered no Gospel passage to justify this response.
For Rose Tennant is a very vocal evangelical Christian. She is prone to waxing pious about her faith, which apparently does not include the command to love one’s enemies.
Now you may say that surely such a person is marginal, but Rose regularly sits in for Sean Hannity when he takes a day off. Hannity, a Catholic who makes much of his time in the seminary, while exhibiting great ignorance about Catholic doctrine, has the second largest audience in talk radio, after Rush Limbaugh. That’s as mainstream as one can get.
Hannity’s introductory theme, an audial montage, includes a clip from a country singer- I am not sure who- that sings “We’ll put a boot in yer ass, it’s the American Way.”
When I was a kid the phrase “The American Way”, while not lacking in hubris, suggested something like Superman’s “truth, justice, and the American Way”, or maybe the Boy Scout Handbook: fair play and honesty and freedom. It certainly did not conjure up the crude and aggressive thuggishness of a boot in the ass.
“The American Way” is a curious term. I have never heard of a “Canadian Way” or an “Italian Way”. But America, which is really a religion, claims a “Way”.
And that Way is contrary to the One who proclaimed “I am the Way”.
Not that the American Way demands one reject Christ directly. Those who claim Christ as saviour indeed are dominant among those who follow the American Way. Such Christians treasure the salvation Christ gives. But do they follow Christ as Lord? Particularly when he commands us to love our enemies?
Love of one’s enemy is no easy command. But it is not optional.
Now that does not mean that one must invite one’s enemy over for a beer. It doesn’t mean that one likes one’s enemy. It doesn’t mean saying he is not an asshole if he is indeed an asshole. What it does mean is not wishing evil on him, being quick to forgive at the first sign of repentance, and praying for his health and salvation.
But American Way Christians, the one who want to put a boot in yer ass, have chosen Christ-minus-love.
To be sure, Christ-minus-love is not the exclusive property of the Right. “Red Owen” White, who often comments here, rarely gets through a conversation without consigning someone to Hell. Indeed, damnation, especially the damnation of his enemies, seems to be Owen’s favorite doctrine.
To his credit, Mr White loves the working class and the poor, and surely such love covers a multitude of sins, unlike love of one’s empire.
But still, Christ-minus-love is sort of like capitalism-minus-competition or America-minus-freedom: it omits something utterly central.
The heart of Christ’s teaching is that the eternal God is Love, utter unconditional Love.
Christ-minus-love is a false Christ.
And “false Christ” is just another way of saying anti-Christ.