Mar 13, 2014

Reflections on Lent, Politics, Life, and the Kingdom

  Once upon a time there was a question asked by a newspaper. It was "What's wrong with the world?"
  The modern world is a busy, noisy place. People carry phones with them at all times allowing themselves to bombard themselves with multiple forms of messages from around the world as well as music, news, videos, and games. This is so they can focus on what is important to them because the world around them bombards them with music, games, ads, and messages not of their own choosing.
  People are filled with frenetic energy; children study long hours and fill stacks of notebooks with repetitive work, yet knowledge and even their own test scores decline. There are more and more sources of news and information yet each new development is a surprise since no one expected it.
  The election cycle never ends, a constant parade of new names, new faces, new scandals, new "critical" issues, new voices, new experts. yet each election has 'surprises'. And after each election things always get worse, not better.
  Men rush through school with sports and clubs. They rush through their workdays with projects and lunches and travel. Women do the same. They get home to hobbies and entertaining, travel and art, music and decorating. Mothers take their children to art, soccer, math, enrichment, games, dances, and so on in an endless cacophony of activity for themselves and their husbands and their children. Homeschooling mothers take on even more with conferences, plans, meetings, tests and - of course - education.
  Their husbands do the same with hobbies and meetings and day trading and the lawn, lawn, lawn. Friends at the pub, sport, and discussion of politics.
  Why? Why all this energy? At the end of the day everyone is exhausted, yet as much as they complain no appointments are dropped. Why?
  Fear. Fear of reality. The busy, the make-work, the frenetic activity is to escape. Escape from ourselves and the world around us.
  The children are unhappy? You can't blame the mother, she gave them every advantage. The father slaved day and night! It isn't their fault, they worked so hard. The father doesn't get super-rich? The day trading was just a hobby and the small business just couldn't compete because of competition. The wife is cold and distant? well, she just doesn't understand her husband. The wife feels neglected? Maybe if her husband vacuumed more often....
  The modern world fears silence and still. If the reporters and pundits were to shut up for a week or so people would realize that no one really learns anything from them. The bloggers would be forced to admit that they are the fan-dancers of politics - busy fluttering with great energy but, in the end, there is nothing to be seen. Politicians would be forced to admit that they almost never utter a word worth listening to. People would start to realize that the government of, by, and for the people doesn't like the people very much at all.
  Modernism fears silence and still mainly because of one simple truth; in the silence and still we must all admit that we are our own fault.
  When the Times of London ran the article that asked "What's Wrong with the World" G.K. Chesterton replied, simply, "I am."
  That is part of the Church's goal during Lent. To have us all add a little silence and still to our world so we can remember what is wrong with the world. So if you are adding a ton of activities to your Lenten practices I urge you - don't. Take things out; put in silence and still.
  And every day remind yourself - you are your own fault. We are, indeed, responsible for ourselves. And our children. And our marriage. This is easy to forget when a text interrupts candy crush, hard to escape after 20 minutes alone with your thoughts.
  So we should all stop and be silent. Sit, and be still. Unless we are contemplatives, this is more of a leavening to our lives, a depth to our waters. Like the pauses in the Latin Mass; beauty, chant, bells, and song made more beautiful and more profound by stillness and bouts of silence.
  Yes, this matters to the Kingdom, too. Few elections, and all minor ones; important positions are for life; authority is as small, direct, and local as possible; government is as limited and small as possible. The Kingdom of Edan is meant to be as silent and still as possible, like the pauses in the Mass. Love and duty, honor and care all leavened with silence and stillness.
  So sit, and be silent. Take your children to fewer things. Do less and spend more time together in the quiet and the calm. Realize that you are the real you and that you are more in control when you do less.
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