Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Word for Wednesday, October 28 Edition

Finishing James chapter 3 (from verse 13):
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Most of us, I'd guess, are familiar with a song called "Kum-ba-ya" (or "Kumbaya"). Before looking it up, I'd assumed it was of 1960s vintage, but it's a little older; it seems to go back to at least the 1920s or 30s. I don't like it, really: melodically tiresome and lyrically insipid, it always seemed to me like a dull waste of time.

Back around the time Emperor Bush II was kicking off Gulf War II, I noticed the title of the song becoming used as a sort of go-to insult by my former companions in political conservatism; if you argued that invading somebody else's country might not be the thing to do, you were apt to be accused of being a kum-ba-ya singer. (That happened to me, at least, lots of times.) But in the passage above, when I read James's description of the wisdom from above (pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy), it occurs to me that many, many war fans would likely suggest that "Kum-ba-ya" must have been a real favorite with James. Shamefully, the American evangelical "church" tends to be heavily infested with such folks; several have been my pastors during my long, weary trek of the last couple of decades.

I still don't like the song. But, please, give me the wisdom from above. Maybe it'll displace some of that other kind of wisdom, that I still have plenty of.

For more Words for Wednesday, click here.


Rebecca said...

I disliked the reign of Emperor Bush I, II, and all the emperors up to now... *sigh*

Wisdom from above does not enter into the heart of the wicked. So I guess that explains why so many people reject it. But it's all the more a challenge to us, the Church, to get the word out and spread the message of Christ. Even while the emperors and their minions think that THEY are the depositories of knowing what's right to do in this world, it is the body of Christ that is the true salt and light.

Good post! Jay of Jay's Music Blog also touched on wisdom, from James' letter.

akaGaGa said...

if you argued that invading somebody else's country might not be the thing to do, you were apt to be accused of being a kum-ba-ya singer.

How things have progressed. These days the Emperor himself will blatantly accuse you of being a Christian, like that's an insult. Let him cast his insults, if that's the worst he can say about us.

But I agree there are too many church members and pastors who put country ahead of Christ.

After burning myself out trying to change "the church," I have chosen to answer God's call to "come out of her, my people."

Don't take on burdens that God hasn't given you, my friend. His yoke is easy.

Dauvit Balfour said...

Our priest called them "movement progressives": those people who, in the fifties, seeing the supposed similarities between the progressive movement and Catholic social teaching, jumped on the bandwagon and never looked back. They became progressives first, and Catholics second (if at all). Today, we have movement conservatives, too - those people who are Republicans and Americans first, and Christians second. It frustrates me to have to argue with close friends and (mostly) faithful Catholics about whether or not the bombing of civilians is ever justified. I actually had one say "you have to break their will..." Spare me.

That is the way of it, is it not? Disagree with Bush, and you're a terrist, disagree with B-HO, and you're a crazy Christian, anti-American... wait, didn't someone actually say terrorist? And "the wheel never stops turning." Eight years ago I tried to convince my republican friends that Bush was doing the same or worse things than Clinton. I failed. And now the wheel turns a little more, but that only matters to the people on the rim.

Strange that we should so voluntarily cast ourselves on the outside of the wheel of worldly fortune and politics. In the center, with Christ, who is the focus of our lives and whose sacrifice calls us in turn to sacrifice - there in the center the wheel doesn't seem to turn.

American Catholics may think themselves a church unto themselves, but they are not. The beautiful thing about being Catholic is that the Church is universal; She exists above all politics and parties and nations, and beyond them as the Bride of Christ, composed of sinners yet sanctified and holy in His sight. She is for all peoples and all times.

(Haha: "Your HTML cannot be accepted: Tag is not allowed: PAPISM)