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What Would People Think?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Submission Is Subversive

Christianity Today (a magazine I've subscribed to lately that includes a number of thoughtful voices across the theological - and political - spectrum of Christianity) had a cover story last December about the Virgin Mary as revolutionary. Really interesting article with a view of Mary I hadn't seen before. You should read it. Even folks who don't share my Christian beliefs would find it interesting.

Apparently some people don't agree with this view. A reader accused the author of trying to twist Mary to fit the author's (liberal) agenda. The part that really got my goat was how the reader concluded his letter to the editor:

Mary's response to Gabriel's birth announcement clearly shows that subversion was not her modus operandi; submission to God was.

Reading that sentence, I wanted to scream at the page: "Can't you see that they are one and the same?!" Submission to God IS subversive.

Submission to God means a radical rejection of this world's - and this nation's - values...its morbid obsession with money, power, and pleasure. Submission to God means sharing Jesus' identification with the outcast - the lepers and adultresses of his time, the criminals, homeless, and homosexuals in our own. Submission to God means total loyalty to Him...and at most conditional loyalty to any political party, nation, or system of government.

Too often Christians have let themselves be co-opted by the world's self-centered power lust. Thus we have the Crusades, we have Ken Lay (a Christian) throwing all moral scruples aside to enrich himself at the expense of others, we have George W. Bush twisting and manipulating his faith to endorse torture and preemptive war.

But it isn't always that way. For examples of Christians who submitted themselves to God, and thereby overthrew (or at least radically rejected) the twisted values of their societies I give you Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, St. Francis of Assisi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. And, of course, I give you Jesus himself. Not all of these were political revolutionaries (though some were). But they all lived revolutionary lives. They were all subversive to their society's values and power structures. And they were subversive BECAUSE they were submissive to God's will and to Christian values.

The fact that such thoughts would inspire skepticism in Christians and non-Christians alike is a testament to how poorly many of us are doing at being Christian.

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