Okay. Despite the photo, I don’t want to get all dramatic here. But, I was reminded last night as I often am here in Portland, OR, that there are some facts we Christians have to face. And we will have to help our children face them, too.
I read in the paper a few weeks ago about a Socrates Cafe that has just started here in my neighborhood. SC is a kind of loose discussion among folks from different walks of life of philosophical questions. Having an otherwise useless BA in philo but a mind that is hard wired to the field I just had to get to this groovy little bar/cafe and see what it was all about.
The place was packed last night with about 30 folks who wanted to get philosophical. I had been working all day and was in my clerics. I figured I wouldn’t show my hand right away so I shifted my white collar tab to the side and out of sight. Everybody wears black, so no big deal, I thought.
Our conversation was on the question, “What is the distinction between rights and priviledges?” Cool topic, I thought. It was going fine and I tried to help it along with some occasional comments–not dominating, just participating.
A couple of guys on the other side were very sharp and were clearly coming from a socialist point of view with many comments focused on exploitation, class tensions, injustices and conflicts. All fair enough and worthy points. Then suddenly the mood changed and there began a stream of caustic references to abusive Catholic schools, Catholic brainwashing, bad Catholic this, and bad Catholic that, etc. Of course, no one flinched. No one challenged. Much had been said earlier about the limits of free speech being the offense given to the other–but no one seemed to see their contradictions when it came to Catholicism, which wasn’t even remotely on topic.
As I was thinking about this I brushed my chest with my hand and realized I was still wearing my cross!! And it dawned on me that these guys were looking directly at me while they made these remarks. I didn’t get angry. I wasn’t even offended really. In fact, I was just really okay with their hatred of Catholicism. They were misguided. And they were even a bit malicious. But, still I was okay…
… then the words came to mind, “blessed are you when they persecute you for my sake, when they utter every kind of false accusation against you on account of me…” Matt 5:11.
I was not being cursed, but blessed.
As the culture continues to become more hostile to belief, to innocence, to the Lord himself, we will have to get used to not having those cultural props of yesteryear when being a follower of Christ was considered respectable and decent. We will have to prepare ourselves and our children to accept hostility graciously on behalf of the Lord whose love sustains us.
When the session was over the two men came over. I shook their hands and introduced myself as J. in order not to embarrass them, though I knew they knew. One asked if I had ever been a minister. I said yes. “You look good in black,” the other said. We three smiled and agreed to see each other next month.