Monday, June 25, 2012

Not So Brief

It is raining this morning. Thunder and lightning: welcome.

Yesterday I had to kill our sick chicken. My wife and daughter both asked me to do it. The warm water treatment helped temporarily, and we thought that since she was sick again, the treatment could promise nothing permanent, and we didn't have the time to, every week, spend a couple of hours holding her in warm water, and then wrapped in a warm towel. I'm not even sure how much she liked it.

But it is hard to kill a chicken that you've bathed and cuddled. She was clearly sick. She was very calm and placid. I doubt she knew what was about to happen. I hated to inflict that moment of pain, and hoped it was really very brief.

I found myself thinking later last night and this morning that perhaps I should have sacrificed the time to bath and cuddle her, that maybe if we had done this repeatedly over weeks, it would have eventually "taken" and she would have been all right.

But I don't really believe it. So, I am confirmed in the decision I made.

But it doesn't really make it easier.

It does make me wonder how anyone can kill a human being, especially a baby in the womb. What kind of lies, what kind of rationalizations does one need to repeat again and again to harden one's heart enough to be able to kill a baby, at any stage?

I am reading "The Idiot" by Dostoyevsky, and there is a scene in which a story is recounted in which a poor man kills another poor man for his watch, coming up behind him and slitting his throat "like a sheep." Just for his watch. And as he does it, he signs himself with the Cross and prays for mercy! It is a very strange kind of religious devotion that can permit such a perverse combination of actions.

It is partly a failure of catechesis. It is caused by an institutionalization of religion, wherein it is so engrained in the culture that the teachers stop teaching very deeply, and the learners stop learning, and their belief becomes routine and superficial, allowing all kinds of contradictions that are entirely contrary to the doctrines of the Faith.

This is 19th Century Russia, Christian Russia, but it is very much the same today, in 21st Century USA, or Europe, or anywhere else. There is a vast disconnect between our daily behavior and the teachings of Christ.

I have been listening to the audio book, Kisses From Katie, the bio of a very young woman who has given up her very upper class lifestyle to go to Uganda, and adopt Ugandan orphans. She repeatedly makes the point that Christ clearly commanded us to care for the poor, and she repeatedly wonders why there should be so many un-cared-for orphans and sick and poor when so many Christians have more than enough to lead a good life AND help the poor. She makes the statistical point that if 8% of the world's Christians were to take on just ONE of the millions of poor, to give him or her what is needed to live and eat and be healthy, there would be no poor left to care for.

How many iPhones, iPads, DVD players, tablet pcs, second cars, second houses are owned by Christians who barely help the poor?

And, how many less prosperous Christians get up in the morning and scold their children and argue with their spouses, and give each other the cold shoulder, and curse others in traffic on the way to work, or even to Church services, who lie or cheat when it is convenient, who hold grudges, refuse to forgive, judge others, who use birth control, get abortions, commit adultery, practice serial divorce?

This is the witness so many Christians give to the world, and very much because Christianity is institutionalized, and we live our faith very superficially, and we take money from the government and compromise our faith, and we barely inform ourselves of what Christ really taught, what the true teachings of the church are, and so are unable to inform our children of those teachings.

I know Christ said that we would be hated by the world, but there are two worlds that hate us for two very different reasons. The world Christ referred to hates us because, when we are faithful to Him, we, by our fidelity to Christ, point out, by the simple fact of our fidelity, the sins the world is immersed in.

The other world, the world that could receive Christ, hates us because it sees clearly that so many of us are hypocrites. We condemn them with our words, with our judgments, but we condemn ourselves by our actions. If we really lived what we say we believe, this part of the world would believe with us, and only the world Christ referred to would hate us.

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