Cattle Drive, Fort Worth Stockyards, April 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Incarnation and our World

Well, I have to be really honest. I am absolutely sickened by what our Congress is doing to us right now concerning the health care bill. It is truly only the tip of the ice-burg. The government desires to take over 1/6 of our national economy and give us a program of socialized medicine. There are a large number of persons who are in favor of this because they are sensitive people with genuine concern and care for those who are less fortunate. That is laudable. But socialism is evil (so is unchecked capitalism for that matter).

I become angry and anxious about how our Congress is trying to pass its revolution (without and up or down vote) and the horrendous bribes and maneuvers and arm-twisting that has been needed. I am even more so by the very plain, bald faced lies that have been told to the American people.

However, I am not surprised that there are unscrupulous politicians who will work their evil on our state. We all tend to take that for granted, because unfortunately we have seen it so often in the past. But there is a silence that is worse than all of this. I have tried to be quiet hoping that some voices might utter some sanity and direction for us, but they have been as quiet as the proverbial church mouse. The silence comes from us, the Orthodox Church. It comes from our hierarchs, our clergy and our faithful. We seem like the mute and blind.

I am not by nature a political activist. I generally don’t talk about politics with my parishioners because I believe that my principle job is to give them the Faith, to teach, to guide,and to confect the Sacraments for their salvation. I don’t wish for temporal concerns to stand as obstacles for their salvation. In other words, I’d rather not have parishioners take offense at my politics—which is probably more likely here in Michigan because I am, after all, a Texan and all that that means—and thereby decide not to listen to the Church’s teachings when it comes from my lips. I am very sensitive to this. But something needs to be said now because we are facing a profoundly theological problem for which the Church does have a word to speak.

Let us first of all say that yes, the Church does believe in caring for those who are in need of medical help. As a matter of fact, Christians founded the very first hospitals to care for the sick. Caring for the sick is one of the seven corporal works of mercy and we should all be involved in this in some way, even if it is only done domestically in our own homes. Although the Church does not say how this has to be done we can look to our past and see how we have done this for centuries. What we will find is that it is primarily done through the free will of the faithful. The faithful built and supported these works of mercy that we call hospitals.

At the very heart of our care for the sick is the doctrine of the Incarnation. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. Man is created in the image of God, so every one bears that image and should be cared for. There are no throw away persons on the face of the globe. We know that by caring for others, we are giving care to Christ himself, whose image they bear.

Christians are unique in this world because we are incorporated into Jesus Christ himself in our baptisms, we are “divinized”. We are also in this world (though not ‘of this world’). The material world is a responsibility as are all those who bear the image of God around us. The Church, then, must speak out about anything that perverts our image and twists it into a vessel unfit for the Holy Spirit.

There are two scores that I see are tremendously problematic for the Christian in regard to the Senate’s health care bill. The first is that abortion will be funded by tax payers through it. I don’t want to be forced to give one red cent to the murder of innocent children. Why should I be forced to do so? I am a Christian. The second problem is that of creeping socialism.

I saw a bumper sticker in the parking lot the other day that said, “Socialism Works”. I wish I could have met the person who owned the car. I would have liked to ask, “Where? Give me an example of where it has worked.” There are no examples. As Orthodox Christians we know all too well what happens in a secularist (atheistic) socialist country… remember Russia? There were 20 million Orthodox Christians martyred in the span of about 70 years. Socialism (and modern secular liberalism) are both incredibly restrictive and narrow minded systems. They desire tolerance for everyone, unless you disagree with them. Then they bring out the long knives. An Orthodox priest from the former Soviet Yugoslavia said he can remember hearing the exact same description of health care that the Congress is putting forward in Soviet Serbia. It gives one great pause, does it not? Is that where we are headed?

The major media already attacks Christian principles openly because the Church teaches a fundamentally different dogma. We teach love, redemption, salvation and transfiguration. They teach conformity. It’s a short distance from attacking principles to imprisonments. There are currently Catholic priests in prison in Canada because they plainly spoke about the Church’s mind regarding homosexuality (a view we Orthodox share). We already have the “hate crime” laws of the sort that imprisoned these modern North American confessors in the faith being crafted here.

We cannot be silent if we are truly Christian. And while we may legitimately disagree about legislative matters, there can be no disagreement that we must stand up for life, stand against any attempt to establish socialism and curtail the full preaching of the Christian Faith. We need to write and call our congressmen and senators to back away from this impending nightmare. I'm going to make it simple for you.

To contact your congressman, go to:

To contact your senator, go to:

Let us not be silent. We have responsibilities to act. Let us also ask our hierarchs to speak out too. Christianity is involved with our entire lives not just “churchy things” like Sunday School. To fail to speak out is to become complicit in the sin of others. This is just as true on the larger scale as it is on the personal scale. Failure to act is actually heretical. It is form of the heresy of Nestorianism (perhaps we can call it ecclesiological Nestorianism), which seeks to divide the humanity from the divinity of Christ and by extension to make the Church purely “spiritual” and not involved in our daily activities and lives.

Then, once we have acted, let us pray with fervor and depth of conviction that God can and will save us. We should never be discouraged, nor despondent because Christ has already conquered this world.


  1. Father, although I do share some of your concern over the current health care bill, some seems to be misguided.
    In your first paragraph you reference socialized medicine. Indeed a public option may not be the best option for a country the size of the United States, but the fact of the matter is that this option has been dropped from the bill entirely. There is no public health insurance plan in the current form of the bill.
    You inquire as to an example of where socialist programs have worked. I can point to the United States itself as an example. Even if there was a public option to be passed, there would be no difference in how it was administered by the government than any other socialized program currently present in the US. I can only assume you don't opine negatively towards public services such as police, fire departments, as well as public roads; however, they are definitively socialized programs. Has our government "brought out the long knives" since these services were implemented?
    You express disdain for having to pay for the murder of innocents. Indeed, I share your sentiment as a Christian. However, there is no such provision within the bill; Section 1303 is explicit in its wording as to the prevention of elective abortions.

  2. Thank you for your comment. I do appreciate a great deal. I am glad you share the disdain for paying for the murder of innocents.

    The difficultly I have with socialized medicine cannot be adequately rebutted by public services however. Historically all countries of all sorts of governmental forms have had police departments, fire departments and public works. Democracies, Monarchies, Oligarchies... we all have found them necessary. Obviously, not all things done by government, or organized by the government is bad. But I believe that less governmental control is certainly more (and better) in this case.

    No one would argue that health does not need to have some major corrections in it. (At least I would hope no one would do so.) There is tremendous waste of finances and resource currently. People do slip between the cracks as we have it now. These are all real problems that we can resolve without creating another level of bureaucracy.

    I rather like a quote from C.S. Lewis that applies to this: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    While there is no public health insurance plan in the bill, it has already been brought forward that that is exactly where Congress and our President intend to go. They have also said they are willing to take it in small pieces until they get it.

    As far as the long knives, yes they have been out in plenty. Those who have disagreed with these policies have already been ill-used. Sometimes this takes the form of slander, sometimes out character assassination, and sometimes worse. My thesis here is simple. Disagree with the vision and one will have to face some real consequences for one's exercise of free speech. That is not all bad, because I do believe that we need to be willing to stand up for our beliefs even when they are not popular.

    At the heart of this is that I don't believe, as Christians, we generally stand firmly and publicly on our theological foundations. This is what I want to see changed. As a priest, I think that it is part of my responsibility to encourage, admonish and lead our faithful to stand as Christians at all times and in all venues even if it is unpopular.