Sunday, March 04, 2007

Another Interview with the Young Drummer

Interviewer: I’ve stored up a lot of questions for you, so if you don’t mind I’ll skip the preliminaries and just start firing away.

Young Drummer: Go ahead.

Int: I had a conversation with a relative the other day that mirrored hundreds of similar conversations I’ve had throughout my life. They always trouble me. My kinsman is a member of the Methodist Church. He has a woman pastor who believes that homosexual marriage is completely compatible with Christianity. But that is not what I find disturbing. I’m used to lunatic clergy; what I find disturbing is my kinsman’s reaction to the minister. He himself doesn’t think homosexual marriage is sanctioned by Christianity, but he is glad that he and his minister agree on the essentials, namely, that Christ is Lord. A Catholic priest once said a similar thing to me in regard to a debate he had with a pro-choice Lutheran. He said he wasn’t pro-choice himself, but he didn’t view the Lutheran’s pro-choice stance as an obstacle to their concelebrating the Mass. (I might add, by the by, that the same Catholic priest thought I was not a Christian because of my views on segregation.)

YD: What is your question?

Int: My question is this: Is everyone who cries, “Lord, Lord” a Christian? Can someone really say – well, of course, they can say it – but can someone really be a Christian and be pro-choice or in favor of gay rights? And what can you say about the faith of someone who can disregard such “minor” differences and still agree on the “essentials”?

YD: There is no exact line separating the Christian from the pagan and the post-Christian, but one can still discern the different sects. There is an instinctive sympathy that exists between Christians, and an antipathy that exists between Christians and non-Christians. Your kinsman is, at heart, with the post-Christians because he does not want the Christian creed to have any connection to reality. If the creed is true, certain principles flow from it. If you deny those principles, you deny Christianity. It is one thing to fail to live up to the principles of one’s faith – we all do that – but it is another thing to deny the principles altogether.

Int: To paraphrase Long John Silver, “Those are mighty harsh words, Captain.”

YD: You did ask for my opinion.

Int. But are there issues that are too muddled in which we cannot discern a clear Christian cause?

YD: Of course there are, although it is often the case that the issues are more muddled in theory than they are in practice. But, yes, there are such issues. Let’s take two examples, very similar in many respects.

First, let’s consider the war for the restoration of James III as King of England, Scotland, and Wales. Now, there are circumstances when a King steps beyond the pale of Christian civilization. In such circumstances he should be removed; Richard II and Richard III both fall into that category. But James II was not lawfully deposed. He did nothing as egregious as Richard II and Richard III. Hence, the attempt, by Bonnie Prince Charles, to restore James II’s son to the throne was a just cause. But there was room for doubt. Some time had elapsed and stability had been restored. Was it worth the bloodshed to restore the Stuart monarchy? My heart belongs to the Stuart cause, but I can certainly see that there could be Christians, real Christians, on the other side of the issue.

Your own un-Civil War is another example. My heart is with the South – they were in the right – and the North’s leaders were most certainly post-Christians, but I think it was entirely possible for a Northerner to participate in the war, fully believing he was doing his duty as a Christian.

Int: So far you’ve only used examples from wars between Europeans during the Christian era. What about the modern era and wars between Europeans and non-Europeans?

YD: For instance?

Int: The current immigration war. All the Christian churches support immigration. As a matter of fact, they equate a pro-immigration stance with Christianity. It is only the pagan groups who oppose immigration.

YD: I think one can say with certainty that the Christian Churches supporting immigration have entered into the post-Christian stage of Christianity. They have abstracted Christ out of existence. Nothing exists for them outside of their own narrow minds. They’ve killed the wellsprings of humanity from which genuine religious feelings come. There are no longer human beings in their world; there is only humanity in the abstract.

Int: What about the professed Christians supporting the war in Iraq?

YD: They are a different breed from the post-Christians; they are pagans whose hearts belong to Thor.

Int: But it is the outright pagans who, along with the left, oppose the war.

YD: Yes, which is why one is better off being an outright pagan than a man with a pagan heart who cloaks his pagan desires in Christian phrases.

Int: Let me shift topics and ask about the ‘born again’ experience. There is a fundamentalist Baptist preacher who has been making the rounds of my neighborhood. Every time he comes to the neighborhood, I invite him in. I’m afraid, however, that I’m a big disappointment to him. I listen to him, I ask him questions, but I do not tell him that I have been born again and that I am assured of my salvation. We are at an impasse when it comes to the born again experience. It boils down to this: I think he definitely has had a very real conversion from heathenism to Christianity, but I do not believe it happened in one blinding moment as he, obviously, feels it has. But I do not question the reality of his conversion as I would question the reality of the conversion of someone like George Bush, for instance. But the Baptist minister does not accord me the same courtesy. He does not accept the validity of my conversion to Christianity in my mid-twenties because I did not have the necessary ‘born again’ experience. I am still among the unredeemed, which quite possibly is true, although not because I have not had the born again experience.

YD: I think the Protestant born-againers, such as the minister that came to your house, err; but they err by an excess of emotion which, although an error, is a better error than that of over-intellectualism, the error of the Catholic heathens.

Int: If the born-againers could turn down the ‘born again’ experience a few notches, I would be in agreement with them. I know there are what I would call ‘white moments’ in one’s life where one feels connected to Him and sees “His blood upon the rose,” but these moments do not seem enough for the born-again types. But maybe it is just a question of semantics. I was a long distance runner long before it became fashionable. When it became fashionable, I started hearing something about a “runner’s high.” “Strange,” I said to myself, “I’ve never experienced a runner’s high.” I had often felt a certain buoyancy or effervescence after a long run but never something as dramatic as a “high.” What do you think?

YD: I think that’s part of it. They have added an enthusiastic element to what you would call a “white moment” and elevated the white moment to the status of an ecstatic vision. But there is a very definite religious difference there that cannot be brushed away by saying it is only a difference in semantics. They bypass the human element. Your white moments occur when you see, in the hearts of His creatures, a vision of Him. Their born again moment comes direct from God, sometimes via a human conduit, but still direct from God. That experience is nothing like the experience you are talking about when you talk about white moments.

Int: You’re right; I want desperately to have something in common with a group professing to be Christian, but I guess one can’t force something like that.

YD: No, you can’t.

Int: But you don’t completely negate the Protestant’s ‘born again’ experiences?

YD: The word, “Protestant,” takes in a large group of people. No, certainly I don’t negate every single ‘born again’ experience. I negate those that seem to produce slimy individuals (for how can contact with the living God produce slime?) such as George Bush and Billy Graham. But I do think the process is more as St. Paul describes it, and he had a truly born again experience, when he says we see through a glass darkly. We have communion with the living God, but it is imperfect. And I think we go from an imperfect, but nevertheless genuine communion, to a non-existent relationship when we try to comprehend God with our minds alone. Then the abstraction game that the Catholic theologians are so fond of comes into play and we have lost God entirely.

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