Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christianity, The Immune System

I don't know all that much about biology. I do know, however, that when the body registers an offender in it midst, it springs into action and attempts to destroy that intruder though a variety of means. This is why we get the symptoms we are used to with flues and colds, etc.: fevers, runny noises, aches, vomiting...

I am overly concerned with the fate of Christianity in the world. Overly - that's not a word one would expect me to use in this context. But I am overly concerned because anything that robs someone of his peace can't be from God, not totally anyway. I don't mean that it's ideal that we be insensitive to everything around us. There is a great deal of middle ground between losing one's peace and being insensitive, though.

I know God doesn't want me to get angry, upset, distracted, and He especially has no wish for me to contemplate violence. Sometimes violence is necessary, but to entertain thoughts of violence is never God's wish, nor is one contingent on the other, even though this is all more easily said than done.

Christianity is not doing well right now. There is a lot to be concerned about. Most of all: homosexualism is trying to make actual Christianity illegal - because real Christianity requires that we view homosexuality as either sin or as sickness, there are no two ways about it.  And Islam. Why did I put this growing violent threat second? Well, in North America Islam is a more remote threat at the moment. In either case, if the first group does not destroy us, the second one will attempt to. It might even be the case that after the second has destroyed the first it will move on to us. In any case, neither one is our friend.

Mindszenty under the Communists.
Soon Collins or Prendergast?
It used to be that communism was our worst enemy. Of course, the socialists who threatened Christianity both here and abroad have now morphed into the homosexualist party. Do a Venn diagram. You should have the 'homosexualist circle' inside the 'socialist circle,' which almost completely fills up the 'leftist circle,' which almost completely fills up the 'secularist circle.' Same enemies as ever, just a different name. And sneakier and more experienced now; the one holding all the power in North America.

Look at a place like Poland, even Russia. Under the Commies, Christianity was suppressed yet vibrant. Its communities were everything you would ever want them to be. To these people their faith was their life. Now that Christianity is no longer persecuted in those countries, it seems to have lost its vitality. I think we are seeing the opposite trend at work here in North America. People are becoming more conscious of what Christianity implies for civil life. So they have to make a choice, a choice which they never expected they would have to make.

I am not the first to think about the state as a body writ large. Plato's Republic is based around the idea. St. Paul used the analogy a few times in reference to the Church. It used to be that secularists tolerated Christianity as the body's liver, the thing that kind of spruced things up a little, not something that really made too many demands on the rest of the body. But secularists are now no longer appreciative of this service, and Christians who continue to think in this status quo manner are being more and more marginalized every day. Sure, we can still have chaplains in the pay of the military, the police, etc., just as long as they don't make anyone uncomfortable with actual Christianity or the Holy Name of Jesus. But even that will eventually expire.

Christianity has been serving as society's liver for quite some time, but, because its contribution is no longer welcome, and because the liver itself has ceased to consider its job in the way it always has - that of straining out the poison of sin - but now, rather, that of ameliorating bad feelings and of promoting social justice, this model no longer works. An antagonistic model is taking over, sociologically speaking.

Christianity is starting to behave like white blood cells, T-cells, natural killer cells, and the like. Simple story: hostile germs or bacteria enter the body, these guys notice, attack, multiply, attack some more. You wouldn't even be aware of the fact that your body could do this had you never been infected by something harmful. You'd never get a fever, a runny-nose, etc. Like a muscle never exercised, so is your immune system if it never has to act. But in acting, it gets stronger. Let's extend the analogy further: we treat runny-noses, fevers, etc., as the enemy, but they are quite the opposite. So too annoying Christians. Yes, these call a spade a spade: adultery, pornography, drunkenness, greed: true Christians stand in the way of body's good times. Thus, you hate them. And, you take medicines to undermine the immune system's work, believe it or not! Yes, sometimes a fever gets too high and needs to be brought down, even though the fever was trying to help - like an auto-da-fé, or something like that.

The moral of the story is, when we hear about Christianity declining, on the one hand, or, one the other, hear about it growing here and there, when we hear about a new interest in spirituality, an increase in priestly vocations, or a modern renaissance for the Church (as in the case of this interesting article), we have to remember that Christianity in our culture behaves just as the body's immune response behaves. It will rise and fall as threats come and go.

You may find this grim and pessimistic or, if you are of the mind that society is moving beyond religion, you might find this a positive take on Christianity's longevity. It is what it is. The decline of the Church here and there is not a sign of the apocalypse. Two-thousand years of political ups and downs for Christianity should have proved this by now. I think you will find that my immune system analogy can also cast some light on the fate of Christianity in China and the fate of Catholicism versus Pentecostalism in South America. I also think it can tell us a fair amount of relevance about evangelization and apologetics. Further, I think it can tell us something about our souls, how God made us and how He wants to feed us.

Christians have to feel that their faith costs them, believe it or not. People in general don't like to be told what they can and cannot do, but only certain Christians will respond to persecution with renewed or increased vigor. Christianity will be vigorous when it has a reason to be. Over the centuries persecution has been its number one reason. It is then that people will suddenly feel that God is calling them to something greater.

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