Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Few Words from Mr. Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry is one of those people that you find yourself nodding to and thinking "that's exactly what I wanted to say" when you read his essays but you know you could never put it so succinctly or eloquently. That said, below is an except from one of his essays that makes me nod my head:

"Despite its protests to the contrary, modern Christianity has become willy-nilly the religion of the state and the economic status quo. Because it has been so exclusively dedicated to incanting anemic souls into heaven, it has, by a kind of ignorance, been made the tool of much earthly villainy. It has, for the most part, stood silently by, while a predatory economy has ravaged the world, destroyed its natural beauty and health, divided and plundered its human communities and households. It has flown the flag and chanted the slogans of empire. It has assumed with the economists that "economic forces" automatically work for good, and has assumed with the industrialists and militarists that technology determines history. It has assumed with almost everybody that "progress" is good, that it is good to be modern and up with the times. It has admired Caesar and comforted him in his depredations and defaults. But in its de facto alliance with Caesar, Christianity connives directly in the murder of Creation. For, in these days, Caesar is no longer a mere destroyer of armies, cities, and nations. He is a contradictor of the fundamental miracle of life. A part of the normal practice of his power is his willingness to destroy the world. He prays, he says, and churches everywhere compliantly pray with him. But he is praying to a God whose works he is prepared at any moment to destroy. What could be more wicked than that, or more mad?

The religion of the Bible, on the contrary, is a religion of the state and the status quo only in brief moments. In practice, it is a religion for the correction equally of people and of kings. And Christ's life, from the manger to the cross, was an affront to the established powers of his time, as it is to the established powers of our time. Much is made in churches of the "good news" of the gospels. Less is said of the gospel's bad news, which is that Jesus would have been horrified by just about every "Christian" government the world has ever seen. He would be horrified by our government and its works, and it would be horrified by him. Surely no sane and thoughtful person can imagine any government of our time sitting comfortably at the feet of Jesus, who is telling them to "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you. . . " (Matt. 5:44)."


Skip Newby said...

Made me nod too. I think people are waking up to a greater degree regarding the deceptive nature of the Powers, than I have seen in my sixty-four years. Thanks for being a part of shaking us awake.

Peace, Skip.

Joey Wahoo said...

I posted the entire essay on our Wendell Berry page.


Jono said...

One reason why the early Christians were hated and persecuted was that they didn’t kowtow to the politics or the idols of the day. Their concerns were chiefly spiritual, not temporal.

All kinds of "leaders" from the realms of politics, religion, & etc. have hijacked Christianity, and rebranded it to suit themselves. For example, I think it is evil for someone to claim that he is born again, only to harm others under the ruse of enlightenment.

I often wonder how different Christianity, as practiced today, differs from it's origin and early history. I suspect one would be unrecognizable to the other.

I also think that it is presumptuous for someone to claim how Jesus would be "horrified" by what is going on today. "Horror" implies surprise and loss of control, which is incompatible with omnipotence and omniscience.

Cherie said...

Jono - you should read a book called Pagan Christianity to get some insight into the early church.