This past week I’ve been at home recovering from surgery. So, I spent the days watching the news of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. I offer a few reflections.
There are two great temptations for those of us who claim to speak for God – arrogance and self-righteousness. Self-righteousness reveals itself in how we separate ourselves from them – sinners. We speak down to them; we shout at them; we condemn them. We thank God that we are not like them. But we are. All of us stand before God broken, confused, and sinful.
With the fall of Christendom – a political culture informed by the Christian faith – Christians must learn to live as “aliens and strangers” in a foreign land (1 Peter 1:1; 2:11). Christians are now a minority culture with little political power and civil status. For the first time in our lives, many white Christians are now experiencing the sense of alienation that our black and brown fellow citizens have endured for centuries.
I love big cats. I am an avid fan of Animal Planet’s Big Cat Diary. Even though it is in reruns, part of my morning ritual for the past many years is to eat breakfast with the big cats. So, when I learned of the killing of Cecil, I grieved. Frankly, I don’t understand the logic of a trophy kill; nor do I understand the logic of allowing any endangered species to be hunted. All creatures are an expression of the Creator’s imagination. The Genesis narrative tells us that God charged humanity with the care of creation, including the naming of all creatures. It is an expression of care and devotion to name an animal. I never cease to be amazed by the ability of humans to personalize a dog or cat by naming it.
I first traveled to Bulgaria in December of 1999. It was the coldest winter in Eastern Europe in a century. When I arrived it was 20 degrees below zero. What I discovered was a nation emerging from the deep freeze of 50 years of communist oppression. Since that first journey I have returned to Bulgaria several times. The scars of communism remain.