Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We the People...of God

In my previous post entitled “We the Media…" I explained that our culture is overwhelmed with news coverage that focuses on centers of political power. Journalists gravitate to politicians and political powers as the primary news-makers, and politicians use this media clout to accumulate even more control. This domination of the political above other segments of society has come to shape our cultural understanding of State power and the freedom of the individual within the private sector. We have been conditioned by the media to assume that “the government” needs to do something every time we are faced with some social problem or injustice. We are subtly influenced by this bias in the media to believe that politics is the driving force for our culture.

Unfortunately the mainstream media tends to neglect the local, private entities (i.e. family, churches, civic organizations, business and community leaders, etc.) which truly form the building blocks of society and the culture. The more the media focuses on the State and political power, the more society forgets the importance of the core cultural institutions at the local level. Instead the State becomes the end-all/be-all solution to our problems. To combat this, we must all remain aware of this tendency within the media to over-emphasize politics, and we must counteract it by shaping the culture in a Christian spirit. We must bring our faith to bear on the culture and give back to our families, churches, and local organizations the power they once held.

As a happy coincidence, after posting this piece on the power of media-driven politics, I attended a Mass where the celebrant preached along a very similar vein. As inspiration for his homily he focused on the Second Reading for this Sunday from Revelation (21:10-14; 22-23). Specifically, he zeroed in on the following verses:


“The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God...The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb...I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.”

Our priest pointed out that the New Jerusalem descends from Heaven – that is, from God – because we are unable to build the City for ourselves. This Heavenly Jerusalem is built on the foundation of the Twelve Apostles – which is to say, on their preaching, and on their testimony concerning Christ and God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. There is no Temple in the City because Jesus (the true Temple of God) dwells in the New Jerusalem with His people. In the Heavenly Jerusalem, the “Body of Christ” (the Church) will be complete and our worship will be truly IN Christ. There will be no need of a Temple apart from Him.

Our priest went on to explain that for centuries Christians have seen in this description of the New Jerusalem a pattern on which to model our own governments. In our political structures we must recognize God’s power and authority in our lives, and that we owe everything to Him. We must have as our foundation an acknowledgment of God’s Revelation of Himself. We must realize that God dwells in each of us and therefore every human life is sacred and all persons must be treated equally.

Father then mentioned our founding documents as an example of this historic pattern. Especially in the Declaration of Independence, our nation was established with the idea that we owe our existence and our freedom to a sovereign God, and traditionally we have professed as a nation, “In God we trust.” Our rights come from a Creator and are not generated by politicians or government mandate. At one time our nation respected the sanctity of marriage and of life, and the importance of family, because all of these things come from God. Our government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” was established by a people of God and apart from Him our system will not succeed.

When too much power is granted to politicians and to the State, the fundamental structures within society can come under attack, as government assumes more and more power unto itself. Aided by the media, political power has grown so large as to threaten the family, attack the life of the unborn, and re-shape cultural norms that were once considered unalterable. We now turn to political power as the solution to problems that were once solved by “love of neighbor.” Love has been replaced by bureaucracy. We now assume that government programs can solve every injustice, yet our government has become alienated from the Author of Justice Himself.

Our priest ended his homily with a final thought… In the face of this political distortion we must insist on a return to God as the source of our rights and our freedom and as the foundation of our model of government. “To do so is not only the right thing to do as a faithful Christian, but also as a faithful American.”

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