For many, the primary question in the abortion debate is one of legality: When, if ever, should abortion be sanctioned by the state? Abortion enters our collective attention span every time a new law is proposed, passed, or challenged in the courts. Politicians speak of defending or repealing Roe v. Wade along fairly predictable party lines, and seem to care about doing so in proportion to their proximity to the next election cycle. The abortion debate is, on the surface, about laws.
This is a shame, and it highlights a catechetical failure. That most Christians today consider legality the primary question means that we have severely dropped the ball in moral catechesis.
Should abortion be legal? is simply not the most important question in the debate. It does not make my list of the top 15 most important questions about abortion. But Christians are often more equipped to answer the question of legality than they are to even think about asking countless more important questions. Sides are chosen, and slogans are tossed across party lines.
One week stands between Palm Sunday and Easter. That week is made up of minutes, and hours, and days. It will be full of appointments, playdates, meetings, and meals. But that is not what this week is. Between Palm Sunday and Easter stands the holiest, the most enchanted, of weeks.
It is these eleven words that I hope will serve as a foundation for ways of thinking about Christian political engagement in 21st century America for this generation of Christians and the next: “They participate in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners.”
This is the way of Paul, the Roman citizen, who also became all things to all people. I read Diognetus with high school students in hopes that this will become our way as well.
“There are no words.” And yet there are. Part of the task of the classical educator is to realize that when we introduce students to literature of lament—be it Job, A Grief Observed, or The Book of Common Prayer—we are actually being used by the Holy Spirit to help our students learn to process the tragedies we know they will face throughout their lives.
There are at least three streams of cultural influence working against young Christians who desire stick-to-itiveness—who want their faith to have true staying power.
So how then should we approach Lent? With Gimli’s determination and rigidity, or with Elrond’s patience and grace?
The Church’s answer to this questions, as is so often the case, is “yes” to both.
Advent is for everyone. Its message is one that we all need to hear. But for those of us in the academic world, I think Advent has something special to offer us, especially during this time of year when grades are being earned and given, celebrated and lamented.
So what does it look like to worship a God that acts? If our Sunday services are to be reflective of the God we claim to worship, how does an understanding of action within the Trinity affect the content and style of a worship service?
The Office is written in a way that assumes it will be read in community. There is an officiant, there is a reader, and there are the people. There are Versicles and Responses. We are asked at times to listen while others speak, and we are asked at other times to speak in unison. The Office can certainly be prayed alone, but it was meant to be prayed together.
This path of discipleship is one that calls us all to be both givers and receivers of the Good News of God in Christ.