Readings for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time: DT 30: 10-14; PS 69: 14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37; COL 1:15-20; LK 10: 25-37
Recently, Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and current Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley published an article called “The Ideology of Christian Nationalism.”
The piece reviewed the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference held in Nashville in June. The meeting promoted the theology of Dominionism which (ignoring American pluralism) holds that Christians have a duty to take over all aspects of government, culture, and society.
According to Reich, speakers at the convention including Donald Trump and Florida senator Rick Scott, promoted not only a union of church and state but the promotion of “gun violence, the subjugation of women through forced birth, and strongman authoritarianism.”
It all represented, Reich said, an effort of white supremacists to “hold onto power in the face of massive demographic shifts: toward women (who now constitute 60 percent of all university enrollees, and therefore the future power structure) and people of color, and away from formal religion.”
Of course, over the long term, such denial of irreversible social realities is doomed, since (to repeat) it ignores our culture’s religious pluralism and the widespread secularism.
It also runs contrary to the simple message of the selections in today’s liturgy of the word on this 15th Sunday in ordinary time. Their emphasis is not on the culture wars around abortion (which is nowhere mentioned in the Bible) and gun rights but on love even for enemies (which represented, of course, the heart of our Great Master’s teaching). Much less is the emphasis on the values of the dominant culture.
Promoting love and even admiration of enemies, today’s liturgy presents the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan – the religious and socially rejected outsider whose generosity and compassion put to shame the Jewish dominionists of Yeshua’s day.
(Samaritans were considered enemies of the state, because their ancestors back in the 8th century BCE, intermarried with Assyrian occupiers of the Jewish homeland. Intermarriage rendered Samaritans unclean. They were simply sub-human.)
So, Jesus’ making a Samaritan the hero of his challenging parable and contrasting the outcast’s compassion with the “couldn’t-care-less” attitude of professional holy men – the priest and the Levite – also connects directly with the hypocrisy of Christians who lack understanding and compassion towards those who don’t share their identity politics or faith.
In doing so, they’ve actually criminalized God’s law of love as described throughout today’s liturgical readings. Read the descriptions for yourself here. For what they’re worth, what follows are my “translations” of their main ideas:
DT 30: 10-14 The Great Liberator, Moses Exhorted the former slaves To return to LOVE The most obvious, uncomplicated Reality In the world. PS 69: 14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37 Love is all we need From Life Itself. It is always kind And helpful Overflowing with gifts And ready to protect The poor, the imprisoned, The exiled, And those in pain. Yes: All we need is Love. COL 1:15-20 Jesus, the Christ Shows what Love means – That absolutely everything Was created for Love, The bond, the glue That holds us all together In complete at-one-ment Transforming the human race Into a single body Despite resistance And crucifixion By a hostile world. LK 10: 25-37 For Jesus (like Moses) Love of God and Neighbor Is the only law Promising fullness of life. The two laws are one. Being “neighbor” Means rejecting The ignorance of Professional holy men And politicians, Adopting instead The compassion of The very minorities We’re taught to hate Who provide Health care, transportation, Lodging, mercy Follow-up, And money, For those they have every reason To hate. That’s what it means To love Our very Self!
So, Moses was right after all: Love is really all we need. It couldn’t be clearer. Yeshua was right too: Love is God’s only law. There is no other.
Consequently, the theology of Christian Dominionism is wrong. It disrespects not only the Constitution’s separation of church and state, but the religious and moral convictions of human brothers and sisters not sharing their beliefs in the context of a pluralistic culture.
Most importantly however, for the followers of Moses and Yeshua such disrespect violates their teachers’ supreme law of love.