Monday, October 17, 2005

Conservative… Liberal… or TRUTH?

Conservative, Liberal, Republican, Democrat…. Today in our society and Church, so much is made of what you believe, who you support and “where” you stand. These labels become our definition and as a result package everyone into one or the other stereotype. These stereotypes lead to friction and friction causes division. Some say that friction is good and necessary, leads to dialog and that without friction the three-legged stool would fall down. Friction can only be good if it leads us towards truth and ultimately God. Friction that causes division and directly opposes one another is not the type that holds up a stool, it is the kind that causes one or more legs to collapse from the misdirected pressure.

So what is in a label? Literally, the word conservative means opposed to change and liberal means in favor of change. The word Republican leads to thoughts of lower taxes, big business and the party of the wealthy. On the other side, Democrat evokes thoughts of bigger government, social change, welfare and abortion. But in reality, do these parties meet the desires of their supporters? Has the Republican party actually delivered on fewer taxes? Look at the numerous entries on the stub of your paycheck for that answer. Have the Democrats reduced poverty? Or do they more likely contribute to the rich getting richer and the poor poorer? Is there any evidence of a long-time politician from either party living moderately?

More often these loyalties lead to blindness of faults.

Some Democrats were so enamored with their allegiance; they couldn’t even see the moral depravity or crimes of our former president. Now some Republicans are so caught up in loyalty, they fail to see the abuses of power and failures of our current president. These absolute positions, or stereotypes, leave your position open to attacks from the other side. And many times, the opposition may have some truth to their complaints, but due to our strict adherence to position, we cannot accept the truth lest it expose our position.

And concerning these stereotypes of liberal, conservative or progressive; where do we stand? Again these labels don’t do justice. On one hand you have people who want strict adherence to the law. It is so strict, we shouldn’t even discuss it. On the other, you have rebellion, a desire for freedom FROM the law. If we live our life in chains, we are not free to love. If we live our lives in rebellion, we do not value our freedom. The truth is God designed us so the law would be written on our hearts so we could live in union with him. If we truly understand God’s rules (law), we will see it is not so much a rule as His desire, His desire for our good. If we understand and live out his will, we are no longer bound by the law, we are truly free. It is no longer law, but now love.

Within the Church, strict adherence to an absolute stereotype leads to division. Rather than seeking unity and the blessing of strength that come with unity, we seek to tear down the other position. Somehow by tearing down the other, we imagine ourselves to be higher and stronger. Would not the nation and Church be stronger by building together on truth? On the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Often it is more a case of obedience versus dissent. How can we teach our children obedience if we are not obedient ourselves? And how can our priest teach us obedience if they are not? And how can our bishops instruct the priests in obedience if they themselves are not obedient to the teachings of the Church? How can our Church proclaim obedience to the world if She is not obedient to Jesus her savior? It is not about “this is the way it has always been done” or “the community” being more important than the Church. It is about God loving us, loving us enough to send His own Son to live and die for us. And then in His infinite wisdom, giving us the Holy Spirit to guide the Church in ALL Truth. Not in all truths up UNTIL Vatican II. Not to finally be enlightened enough to NEED the input of the laity. All Truth.

If you accept the Council of Jerusalem, Nicene Creed and the Council of Trent, then you accept the Council of Vatican II, Humanae Vitae, Ecclesia de Eucharistia ant the latest changes on liturgy from Rome.

So what will it be, conservative – liberal – or Truth? Law is rule – freedom from law – or the conversion of the heart to the will of God and true freedom?

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