Again, “We adore God Who is love, Who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him.” (Pope Francis, 6/21/14)
It is not a secret of one religion or one culture that as others feed the brain of a human being from the outside, the personality of the individual is generated. The language, the hopes, the fears, the values, the perceptions, the desires all are embedded and maintained largely by input from outside the person. Buddha knows this, Gandhi knows this, the composers of the UNESCO Charter know this, every public relations corporation on the planet knows this, the military knows this, every mass media executive knows this and Jesus knows this. Indeed the first word out of Jesus’ mouth in His public ministry in the Gospel of Matthew is metanoia, which means, “change your mind,” often translated “repent.” Jesus then goes onto tell His people in what direction their minds should be changed and by extension in what direction their behavior should change, if they wish to do God’s will and eventually enter into the Kingdom of God.
Change, like death, is universal and inevitable. The issue is in what direction a person should change and why. There are legions of people out there who for some reason or another want to change other’s minds in one direction or another. Jesus is one of them. The Church is instituted by Christ to be “an extension of Him in time or space.” The Church then must be an assembly of disciples of Christ committed to putting on the mind of Christ and calling others to the same metanoia, change of mind, repentance to which Jesus calls people. The Church is not established for nor does it have a commission from Christ to struggle on behalf of, to promote or to support or to call people to any other change of mind in any other direction.
“The spiritual battlefield is the mind,” says Gandhi. There is no question about that. But, there is also no question of the mind being a battlefield. Spiritual warfare is an apt metaphor for what takes place there. Ideas, values desires and hopes put in the Christian’s mind by others war within his or her mind against ideas, values, desires and hopes placed in that person’s mind by Jesus. The conflict that results from having to choose between the two is constant, fierce and deadly. From moment to moment a person must do all he or she can to die to one’s old self and self-understanding in order to live into a new self and a new self-understanding. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mk 8:35).
Considering all this, how is it possible for any Christian leader in any institutional or domestic Christian Church—from hierarchs to clerics, from Popes to Patriarchs, from theologians to religious education teachers, from mothers to fathers—to maintain with any intellectual and moral integrity before God that nourishing the minds of those Christians in their spiritual care, and themselves, on the mass media diet of brutal hallucinations is a process that will help a person put on the mind of Christ? How can anyone not know that continuously feeding into their own mind and the minds of those in their spiritual care the principles, the understanding of others, the understanding of God and the self-understanding of the savage mythologies of mass media is choosing to make oneself and to make others into the radical opposite of what the Jesus of the primitive Church and the Gospels asks, indeed, commands? Could any ordinary, reasonable atheist or agnostic even believe that such a process is a process that would nurtured the mind of Christ in a person and motivate him or her to love as Jesus loved?
(As regards bishops and clerics and Christian fathers and mothers spiritually approving of those in their spiritual care entering into “the abomination that maketh desolation,” military training, as a way of putting on, nurturing and enhancing the mind of Christ in a person, this is so outrageous as not to deserve even a comment.)
The only rational theological explanation that I can see why those Christian leaders, Catholic Protestant or Orthodox, would sit on their duffs while those in their spiritual care are spiritually and morally raised on a lifetime diet which is the moral equivalent of an endless stream of pornographic movies, is that they believe that the metanoia of which Jesus speaks requires only one change to be saved—either saying one has a cognitive faith in Jesus as Savior, with or without emotional content, or submitting to the rite of Baptism. However, the belief that a person can make one moral decision that will relieve him or her from making any other moral decisions is not the teaching of Jesus.
Emmanuel Charles McCarthy (To be continued)