Tag Archives: Diognetus

Too patriotic? Voting early! Bombs? Letter to Diognetus (5-6).

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Avoiding the chaos on Super Tuesday, I went down to the election commission at the courthouse annex in Murphy, NC, and voted early. Fortunately, this is not one of the counties in North Carolina which has trouble in sending out ballots to active Military personnel and citizens overseas; their votes count. I made sure to ask if these early votes here in the county are counted, as it were, instead of just being thrown into the box for use only upon court adjudication after a contested election. They’re counted in an ongoing fashion, I was told, so that they are the first votes in a continuum. Great!

I think voting is important, so I put up the “I Voted Today!” red-white-and-blue sticker given the election commission to those who vote just after voting on the back window of Sassy the Subaru. Just because the sticker has a USA flag motif doesn’t make this a partisan move on the part of the election commission. And although I am an official representative on a local level of a mainstream church, and retain the right to express my private political opinions in the public square, I don’t have anything partisan displayed anywhere, not on my person, not on my vehicle, not at the rectory, well, unless the USA flag, the Vatican flag at the rectory, and some USMC pride on Sassy the Subaru are partisan. They shouldn’t be.

You can’t be too patriotic. Either you’re patriotic or you’re not. It’s a virtue. “For God and Country” – Pro Deo et Patria, or, as my license plate reads: [4G0D4ALL]. If you’re exaggerated either way (and you can be, either way) it’s no longer about the family of one’s fatherland, so to speak, respecting others, helping others, but instead it’s all just about yourself at the cost of others, at the cost of one’s patria, one’s fatherland. Thus, we have a suspect bomber guy, now assisting with interrogations, as it should be.

Ironically, the best way to be a good citizen of one’s patria, fatherland, here on earth is to know that we are all in exile upon this earth, away as we are from our heavenly homeland, where Jesus will bring us face to face with our dearest Heavenly Father.

We call to mind something written waaaay back in the day, some say the first century, some say later, the letter to Diognetus (here with chapters 5 and 6):

CHAPTER 5 — 5:1 For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in customs. 5:2 For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language, nor practise an extraordinary kind of life. 5:3 Nor again do they possess any invention discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are. 5:4 But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvellous, and confessedly contradicts expectation. 5:5 They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign. 5:6 They marry like all other men and they beget children; but they do not cast away their offspring. 5:7 They have their meals in common, but not their wives. 5:8 They find themselves in the flesh, and yet they live not after the flesh. 5:9 Their existence is on earth, but their
citizenship is in heaven. 5:10 They obey the established laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives. 5:11 They love all men, and they are persecuted by all. 5:12 They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life. 5:13 They are in beggary, and yet they make many rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things. 5:14 They are dishonoured, and yet they are glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated. 5:15 They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect. 5:16 Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened by life. 5:17 War is waged against them as aliens by the Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason of their hostility.

CHAPTER 6 — 6:1 In a word, what the soul is in a body, this the Christians are in the world. 6:2 The soul is spread through all the members of the body, and Christians through the divers cities of the world. 6:3 The soul hath its abode in the body, and yet it is not of the body. So Christians have their abode in the world, and yet they are not of the world. 6:4 The soul which is invisible is guarded in the body which is visible: so Christians are recognised as being in the world, and yet their religion remaineth
invisible. 6:5 The flesh hateth the soul and wageth war with it, though it receiveth no wrong, because it is forbidden to indulge in pleasures; so the world hateth Christians, though it receiveth no wrong from them, because they set themselves against its pleasures. 6:6 The soul loveth the flesh which hateth it, and the members: so Christians love those that hate them. 6:7 The soul is enclosed in the body, and yet itself holdeth the body together; so Christians are kept in the world as in a prison-house, and yet they themselves hold the world together. 6:8 The soul though itself immortal dwelleth in a mortal tabernacle; so Christians sojourn amidst perishable things, while they look for the imperishability which is in the heavens. 6:9 The soul when hardly treated in the matter of meats and drinks is improved; and so Christians when punished increase more and more daily. 6:10 So great is the office for which God hathappointed them, and which it is not lawful for them to decline.

 

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Is buying bacon at Walmart from Muslims now a hate crime? I like bacon.

bacon

Last night I went into one of our local Walmarts and was greeted by a very pleasant Walmart Greeter Muslim guy. He was all totally smiles and happiness. O.K. I loaded up my shopping cart with stuff like tomatoes, onions and whatever. I went to the cashier, a lady with a burka at the register, very nice. I paid, and then left, wishing all a nice day. O.K. There’s more to recount about Muslim stuff, but this is sufficient for this post. Just to say, it was a nice shopping experience all around. Great!

I didn’t buy any bacon or any pork products. I really never do. Someone had given me some bacon a few months ago, which I really really enjoyed. But anyway, what if I had bought some more bacon? Wouldn’t that force a Muslim to have contact with swine? Is that fair to them? Am I being hateful if I buy bacon at Walmart? Is it a hate crime on my part? Unfair religious provocation? Just some multi-cultural questions in a Dearborn age.

When I was teaching in the Pontifical seminary in Ohio in these USA, one of the seminarians was born a Muslim as his father was a Muslim and that’s how it is. Of course, in studying and being formed as a seminarian on his way to being ordained a Catholic priest, the youngster had converted to be Catholic, a capital crime in Islamic law, as was, in fact, proudly and loudly proclaimed by the local Islamic Cultural Center: the damned kid needed to be honor killed. Of course, the problem with this was, as the now seminarian told me, that his father had himself converted to be Catholic. Ha ha! The cowardly cowards at the Cultural Center cowered, cowards that they are. The seminarian told me that, for them, what counted was being treated with dignity and respect by the Catholics that they knew. They fell in love with the love that Jesus brings to us. Great.

Now, back to my question. Is this respect expressed in being a volunteer dhimmi, one who voluntarily lives under Sharia law because one doesn’t want to offend any Muslim customs, such as not having anything to do with pork? Just a multi-cultural question in a Dearborn age.

I put before you a text from the first generation of Christianity, a text from the letter to Diognetus:

“Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.

They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.”

From a letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)

Am I abusing that text? Am I caving to Islam? Can I buy bacon at Walmart?

I am hungry for bacon, but I’m not interested in provoking for the sake of provoking.

What to do?

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