Books Read: December 2003 Archives

A Day Off


I have a day off and some much needed time to prepare for Christmas. Prepare, as in do some last minute shopping and, I hope, do a little spiritual preparation.

I have mentioned in other posts, that my parents were older when I was born. One consequence of that is that a good many of my aunts and uncles, cousins, etc have gone on to their reward. I had been nursing a vague hope to hear from the few of those remaining this year, especially one or two with whom I have lost touch. Today, I received a partial fulfillment of that wish with a card from a cousin I had not heard from in some time. As I grow older, I feel the need to maintain these contacts, although, I must admit, for most of my life I have been very neglectful of them. This is one thing I hope to remedy this year. I might add that, as an added bonus, I also received cards from two old friends from El Paso today. It has been a good day, and I am grateful to our Lord for it.

I have been reading Paul Johnson's A History of Christianity and it has shaken my world a bit. I'm not sure I know entirely what to make of it and will have to read some more books on Church history to try to put it in perspective. One thing is clear, the history of the Church has not always been an edifying tale. I might add, this is true of our separated brothers and sisters in Christ, no less than for the Church. One thing that has come out of my reading of Johnson's book is the terribly difficult time Christians have had in dealing with the Christian faith. We Christians have struggled to come up with the proper role our faith should play in our lives and in our societies. I'm not sure we've ever really found the answer. It seems clear that Christianity does not fare well when, as in the Middle Ages, it is, in effect, a branch of the government. Nor has it done well when it is entirely separated from both politics and society. Christianity is, I think, not only a religion, but also a culture; it provides us a way to understand and interact with the world in which we live. It is cultural and political, but, at the same time, neither.

It seems clear, however, that when Christianity does not form the basis and foundation for the culture, the society suffers as a whole. When other gods are allowed to compete, indeed, to gain the upper hand, both the culture and Christianity suffer. This is the situation we Christians face today, and we are on the verge, I think, of being cut off from full participation in our society. I hate to keep returning to this idea, but, as the old saying goes, just because you are paranoid, it doesn't mean you don't have enemies. Society has set its face against our faith, in favor of a secular-materialist, techno creed that can lead only to utter hopelessness, ignorance, and despair. I think Christians do not believe this can happen, but it can.

The only thing that gives us cause for optimism is that the birth of our Savior that we are about to celebrate, assures us that this battle has already been won. I hope we never forget that we are called to be warriors in that battle; each of us is called to do our part, even if it is only sending out a Christmas card to someone we have not heard from in a long time.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Books Read category from December 2003.

Books Read: November 2003 is the previous archive.

Books Read: January 2004 is the next archive.

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