Wednesday, May 29, 2013


   This week we commemorated Memorial Day, the day we gratefully remember and honor all those who died for our country in war.  For Christians, Memorial Day is our national Good Friday.  As Christ died to bring us the fullness of eternal life, beginning here on earth, we believe that our service men and women died to protect our freedom so we could enjoy our version of the pursuit of happiness.

   We owe Christ and our fallen brothers and sisters more than gratitude.  We owe them a life worthy of their sacrifice.  We owe them a serious and mature look at what it means to pursue the fullness of life and happiness today.  The Christian pursuit of happiness pertains to fulfilling the joy of abundant life in the grace of Christ, e.g., by fulfilling our personal vocations to work for an ever closer relationship in peace, justice and love among ourselves, all others, nature and God, as we move forward toward the conscious wholeness of love.  The American pursuit of happiness pertains to getting the things we want, which government leaders often refer to as "peace and prosperity."
   We owe our fallen heroes our best efforts to fulfill our country's motto, E Pluribus, Unum. Out of Man, One.  We should work to build a community of love by balancing and enriching our individual freedoms with strong families, a strong moral sense, and a strong sense of public obligation.  While we wisely keep the institutions of church and state apart, we can just as wisely combine our spiritual and national goals in the three ways I just mentioned.

   Unhappily, there is trouble on all three fronts.  The high divorce rate shows that family life cannot be said to be strong.  The radical, almost pathological individualism that marks our culture today militates against the need to create a viable family.  The interests and needs of others can easily become secondary to our individual interests, and at times even a troublesome burden.  Marriage can be a shallow "relationship" that lacks true and deep oneness.

   Many of us have lost sight of any ultimate, unifying moral reality in our lives.  For years, of course, the churches,with their organized religion, have stood for the ultimate unifying force of society.  Today, the ultimate unifying source has to be something less imposing and dogmatic than way organized religion can present itself.  For Christians it can be the one, all-embracing faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that binds everyone and everything in the world in a living, everyday community of  wholeness and love.   For all Americans, it can be a deep respect for others, which moves us to help others become who they are, even if it costs us some sacrifice, which would echo the sacrifice of those who died to protect our freedom to believe as we wish.

   A fragmented, self-directed life-style, politics, economics, or education, is an obstacle to a strong sense of public obligation.  The divide between the rich and poor, is an economic/moral disgrace.  A frightening number of politicians are engaged in a militantly aggressive campaign of ignorance and disunity.  A fragmented education that stresses technology and specialization over community and humanity only adds to the problem.  Yet to our credit, we are at least, a crisis-oriented society.  We will stop and run to help people after an accident, a natural disaster, or a terrorist attack.  And many of our young people still feel the call of altruism and the need for meaning greater than themselves.  There is cause for hope.

   Spiritual maturity calls for us to reach beyond our present self and today's negative cultural values and work to become more open and understanding, more embracing, more peace-making--more luminously human in the grace of Christ.

   So in honor of our fallen brother and sisters, I can expand the sub-title of this blog:  People are suffering.  Christ and our fallen heroes are waiting for the true honor they deserve, a country working seriously and hard toward the wholeness of love.  


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