Voldemort vs. Jesus
Which side are you on?
An old friend sent me a book, A Letter to the American Church by Eric Metaxas. The book's target demographic appears to be people I will call Christian Nationalists. It charges them to rise up, in whatever peaceful or violent way they see fit, against what the author calls Cultural Marxism. Having previously written about Dietrich Bonhoeffer who, during the 1930s, fatally challenged German Christians to oppose the Nazis, this author uses Bonhoeffer's heroic stance to exemplify the fervor with which he advises readers to act.
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Here's a review of the book. It's a rather long rant with which I won't burden you here at church.
Mr. Metaxas definition of Cultural Marxism includes the following: anything that can be labelled socialism, abortion, critical race theory, same-sex marriage, gender fluidity, globalism, and whatever else he deems the progressive agenda.
Politics aside, I feel the need to accept the challenge Mr. Metaxas gives to Christian leaders he considers timid: get brave and take a stand. Well -- in the profound words of Lightnin' Hopkins, "I don't take a dare from nobody."
Here goes, Mr. Metaxas.
Last week my tv was giving me problems so I chose to forgo regular programming by playing DVDs. Since I hadn't watched Harry Potter in a few years, that was my choice. And while watching all seven films over nine evenings, I got most intrigued by Voldemort as the perfect antithesis of Christ. The antichrist if you will.
As I have mentioned before here, Leo Tolstoy, the author most famously of War and Peace and Anna Karenina, after giving up writing fiction and devoting himself to the New Testament Christ, came to believe and argue that humanity is composed of two kinds of people: those who are concerned about everybody (I call them everybody people), and those who are only concerned about themselves (me people).
In every instance I can remember, during Jesus's earthly visit, he proved to be an everybody person, while Voldemort in his every word and action, proved to be a me person.
Now, I'm not suggesting any of us can hope to become like either Jesus or Voldemort. They are ideals. However, we all can choose to become more like one of them or the other.
Soren Kierkegaard is a favorite philosopher of mine. As he is often called the father of Existentialism, I’ll try to clarify what that title means.
The term existential has gotten applied rather haphazardly. In my younger days, foreigners in Mexico for the cheap living and easy access to drugs were called existentialistas. The existentialist label has been applied to most every sort of person who opts against traditional values. I suppose those labels refer to the existentialist insistence on individualism based upon individual choice.
To fit my definition of an existentialist, a person needs to earnestly confront questions such as: “What constitutes a meaningful existence?” and “What is right and wrong?” Once he or she has sufficiently contended with these questions, the existentialist will feel called to make a decision; to choose between the plausible answers, and then begin to stand with integrity for the chosen answer.
Kierkegaard framed the decision we call existentialist as the choice for or against Christ. A line is drawn. To loosely interpret from the Danish, on the one side is self-concern (me people). On the other side is love (everybody people).
But the choice doesn't need to be so limited as Kierkegaard poses it. An atheist, Christian, hippie, Buddhist, or believer in any set of values whether established or self-created, can legitimately be considered an existentialist as long as her or his (or their if you prefer) adherence to the belief system is grounded in choice rather than unconsidered acceptance.
Suppose I grew up in a Christian Science family, base my beliefs on the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy, and have never seriously questioned those teachings. Since I have declined to exercise my right to consider options and choose between them, I am certainly no existentialist.
Or suppose, after a modest search for answers, I give up and consider myself agnostic. Then I am no existentialist, as I have abdicated my right to vigorously pursue answers then make a conscious and informed choice.
So an existentialist is simply someone who earnestly seeks to learn the meaning of life then chooses between alternative answers and determines to live in accord with the chosen answer and its implications.
I will hope that those who object to Christianity or Christians would attempt to acquaint themselves with Jesus directly by doing what I once suggested to my son. Read the gospel of Matthew and the book of Acts. And please don't get sidetracked by anything you know or think about churches or people who claim to be Christians.
Here's my stance in response to the Metaxas dare: I intend to continue with the existential choice I made long ago when faced with the admonition Billy Graham gave us at a Crusade, when he invited us to help save humanity from imminent destruction by becoming everybody people.
My challenge to you all: please become a legitimate existentialist by choosing to be either a me person or an everybody person. In other words, take a stand for Voldemort or Jesus.
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