Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The mind of the Spirit is life and peace

Last week I posted on this blog a letter Regarding Terrorism and Refugees that I wrote over a year ago to the Diocese of Fond du Lac: Regarding Terrorism and Refugees.

In my 20’s, I was on the board of a pro-life organization in Bloomington, IN. – not because I was a conservative, but because I was convinced it was faithful to Jesus. Even then I wasn’t an absolutist. Ironically, the chair of the board was a woman who was also the chair of the local Democratic Party and when I was invited to speak on the topic with a class at Indiana U., my counterpart defending the pro-choice position was a Republican woman. Things were different in the 80’s.

In my 30’s, at the height of the AIDS crisis, I was a Hand to Hand volunteer for the San Joaquin County AIDS Foundation in CA, which of course was mostly about assisting gay men and their lovers – not because I was a Liberal (I was actually more conservative on questions of sexuality then than I am now), but because I was convinced it was faithful to Jesus.

In my 40’s, I spoke out, preached, and marched against the invasion of Iraq – not because I was a Liberal, but because I because I was convinced faithfulness to Jesus demanded opposition. By the standards of the Church’s understanding of Just War it did not pass muster. That view was shared by the then Pope, John Paul II, and his eventual successor, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, neither of whom was considered liberal. I also opposed the invasion for purely prudential reasons – I did not think it would make us safer and would in fact create a mess making us less safe. The last 14 years have only confirmed that conviction.

Now, in my 50’s, I find myself needing to defend the welcome of refugees and oppose President Trump’s Executive Order on refugees – not because I am a Liberal, but because convinced it was faithful to Jesus. I share this view with the current Pope (and other RC bishops – Archbishop Charles Chaput of Chicago is a good example), the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ed Stetzer, Senior Fellow of Wheaton College's Billy Graham Center, and Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today, along with multiple Conservatives. Aside from Jesus, on purely prudential grounds, I believe that just as with the invasion of Iraq, Presidents Trump's Executive Order is based on misinformation and will not make us more safe, but less so as it alienates folk who we need as allies. The struggle against terrorism is as much a battle for hearts and minds as it is a military battle.

I could be wrong on any of these and people will disagree with me, but for me none of this is about Conservative vs Liberal. Jesus is neither. As a bishop of the Church I am obliged to “boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Christ, enlightening the minds and stirring up the conscience of [my] people.” (The Ordination of a Bishop, Book of Common Prayer, p. 518)

“To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
(Romans 8:6)

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