Monday, August 21, 2006

Two churches

USA Today is the paper that longingly waits for a beautiful princess to kiss it on the forehead so that it might one day turn into a handsome and charming cable news program. I never thought I'd see the day when I linked to an article from USA Today, but I guess I was wrong:

Archbishop tells church to stay in Lebanon: 'You'll make it'

The article quotes a sermon given just this past Sunday by Archbishop Chrucrallah Nabil Hage, the leader of the Catholic Church in Southern Lebanon:
"Wherever you are — in Hajji or Tyre or Marjayoun — if you're patient and believe, you'll make it through this," Hage told a standing-room congregation at St. George's Church in this southern Lebanese village... "The Christian message is the same everywhere: a message of peace, a message of love and a message of tolerance," he said. "Even if we have different beliefs, it doesn't mean it should lead to conflict."
The archbishop criss-crossed the battered fragments of southern Lebanon and through it all, he delivered this message of defiance against extremism and violence: one that has echoed the impassioned pleas given by Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, who has been similarly criss-crossing what remains of Lebanon's civil infrastructure and calling Israel's actions what they are: crimes against humanity.

Unfortunately, the Christian message doesn't appear to be the same everywhere as the archbishop claims - not in America, at least. Pastor John Hagee continues to spearhead the totally unfounded evangelical movement to support Israel unconditionally. Let's dissect this one later... for now, here is the top Associated Press religion headline from a few moments ago:

Church fires teacher for being woman

The headline says it all, really. The best quote from this story comes from the town's mayor, who is talking about a letter written by the church's pastor defending the decision:

"...those are disturbing remarks in this day and age... Maybe they wouldn't have been disturbing 500 years ago, but they are now."
While this Baptist church valiantly protected children from the demonic machinations of the female, Archbishop Hage was telling the war-torn Lebanese in his congregations that if they were patient, they would make it. Is this the same religion?

The archbishop's message that is doubtblessly being repeated throughout the globe wherever people feel an oppression of circumstances that they cannot see or name, but somehow manages to impair their lives nonetheless. What are they supposed to be patient for? Archbishop Hage's sermon should strike luxuriated American Christians as especially ironic - why can't we ask ourselves what the rest of the world seems to be waiting for? Throughout the global south and the third world, people are trying to "make it through" - through what? And where did it come from?

Let's ponder these questions as we sit in the cushioned pews at John Hagee's air-conditioned megachurch in Texas, listening to how Christians in America can "become a part of biblical prophecy."

The thing about prophecy, of course, is that it's supposed to get fulfilled no matter what we do or don't do.
Prophecy implies that God is doing the work alone. But that's not what Christians believe - we (supposedly) believe that the Church exists on Earth in order to do the work of God.

Christians like me are watching the destruction of the world around them. We must aspire to do work OTHER than "preserving marriage" and keeping women silent in the churches. Archbishop Hage's sermon is telling the Lebanese to be patient and believe - his sermon is telling Americans to start giving a shit about "thy neighbor" and to believe in what Christ really said.

God have mercy on me, a sinner.

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