"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, May 18, 2007

Benedictimus Te, Gratias Agimus Tibi, or: Good Food, Good Meat, Good God, Let's Eat

Via my good friend and pal, Jonathan Rowe:

Orthodox priest John Parker resents ("Benediction Fiction") being asked/required to leave Jesus Christ out of his benediction at the University of South Carolina med school's chapel, in favor of a "We Dig God, Whoever He Might Be" speech. He declined the honor.

Parker has somewhat of a point when it comes to the sectarian origins of private institutions. One should not feel embarrassed about speaking about Christ in a chapel with a cross on it, nor feel an obligation to skip Him over.

I'd not be insulted if I heard about Allah or Vishnu in an appropriately dedicated chapel.

But to the heart of the matter, about generic benedictions in the public square per Ben Franklin's American "civil religion": I would cringe on behalf of my Jewish friends if Parker started his prayer as intended, "O Lord Jesus Christ our God..."

If Parker felt the need, in a non-sectarian milieu, to testify for Jesus Christ as God, anyone in the audience with a theological disagreement with that "Truth" would be well within his own needs to get up and testify to the contrary, or in the least, walk out.

We, as a society, don't need that noise. We've done everything we can to get around it.

Now we might discuss the Founding's "civil religion," that America has some established culturally Judeo-Christian/monotheistic foundation, and that appealing to the gods or The Goddess---whoever She might be (or perhaps....SATAN??!!!), might likewise be an unnecessary provocation in the public square. But that would needlessly complicate things, eh?

But we love needless complications these days.

What I would say is that the Judeo-Christian God is our cultural baseline. There is One of Him, and He looks after us. The Founders were OK with that.

Look, if a Jewish friend is over for dinner, we say grace in some universalist fashion. Of course. But I admit that the atheists get the whole "through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen" deal. What the hell---in for a penny, in for a pound, and besides, to accommodate their sensibilities would require me to negate all of my own. It's one thing to show respect, another to put a bullet through your own head.

Besides, the food's always great at Casa TVD due to the divinely-inspired Missus. Nobody's complained around here yet, and me, I think they like the grace being said. Makes the food taste better. Like life. And Mrs. TVD doesn't mind atall when the thanks get directed slightly upward.

1 comment:

Matt Huisman said...

Spot on, Tom. Generic benedictions get a bad rap, in my view. Gratitude is universally respected (otherwise benedictions would have disappeared from the public square long ago), but is not necessarily universally understood.

This is where we come in, to help bridge general revelation to the specific. Quite an opportunity, so why get hung up on what will likely be a stumbling block anyway? My guess is that the introduction and the kickin robes will be enough of an acknowledgment for the Great Whoever anyway.