“A revolution is supposed to be a change that turns everything completely around. But the ideology of political revolution will never change anything except appearances. There will be violence, and power will pass from one party to another, but when the smoke clears and the bodies of all the dead men are underground, the situation will be essentially the same as it was before; there will be a minority of strong men in power exploiting all the others for their own ends. There will be the same greed and cruelty and lust and ambition and avarice and hypocrisy as before.
For the revolutions of men change nothing. The only influence that can really upset the injustice and iniquity of men is the power that breathes in Christian tradition.”
~ Thomas Merton
Unless I’m missing something we have the “same greed and cruelty and lust and ambition and avarice and hypocrisy as before.” Merton calls on the “power that breathes in the Christian tradition” to “really upset the injustice and iniquity of men.” This power has not been up to the task for the past two millenia. How can we expect the future to be different?
We have co-opted the Christian power of self-giving love and resurrection-living with the powers of the world and bastardized it to the point that it is ineffective. Christians have gone to bed with politicians and their platforms; we have compromised our principles for influence and leverage and front row seats to the victory speech. We have searched for power and status in the ways and means of the world instead of giving up power and renouncing status for the sake of others. The scandalous power of the cross to change the hearts of men has been diluted by our desire to be in control. And it’s sickening.
My prayer in the current chaos of what’s happening in the U.S. is that the hopelessness will wake us Christians up to the fact that we never should have been in bed with the world and its ways in the first place. My prayer is that God’s Church in this country will give itself up to love and forgiveness, to sacrifice and service, and renounce forever our repulsive marriage with the power of partisan national politics.