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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Diminutive or Demonstrative?

When have you “put your body on the line” to protest some social evil? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1159). 

Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

In America we are the victims of the notion of full and public disclosure. Sometimes this reaches absurd proportions. The other day I responded to the offer for a credit card. The card came in the mail a few days later and was accompanied by 14 pages of small print disclosure. Our faith that the god of disclosure ensures righteousness is fundamentally wrong—being public about greed does not make it right.

I have deeply admired such people as Martin Luther King Jr. who have bravely demonstrated on the streets for social and economic justice. It may well have been his public assertiveness on the streets that enraged MLK’s assassin. I have been throughout my life pretty much a weenie in this regard. Perhaps it relates to an enduring timidity and discomfort in being the focus of attention. Most often I have chosen rather to scurry relatively unseen backstage in the darkness doing there what I took to be God’s will. In this regard I can admittedly be disparagingly labeled an “undercover Christian.” I hesitantly affirm that I’m a believer in the notion that righteous acts need not be validated by publicity—however full of pitfalls this point of view can also hold.

In America we hold as principle that others’ religious faith—or lack of it—requires absolute respect. Most especially I am not to inundate fellow citizens with propaganda they cannot in good conscience agree with. Most American’s are completely onboard with this disinclination and mutual reserve. Personal faith and convictions are inherently within a category quite unlike the plethora of ads seen for soap and beer where preference has little relation to convictional integrity. In the end Jesus’s call for secrecy in the implementation of righteousness can be seen to be deeply embedded within the American ethos. We prefer to attribute our actions to pragmatism rather than righteousness.

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