The Steampunk Vicar

A Presbyterian Pastor on Neo-Victoriana and American Faith

Tag: politics

Apologia, pt. 0 – Introduction to Apology

In a much bally-hooed and now discredited scientific Study, Researchers claimed to have discovered that brief Conversations had significant Impact in altering the Opinions of Participants with regard to Same Sex Marriage. In short, actually talking to People, personally, could, indeed, cause them to shift their Stances of the great Issues of the Day.

As noted above, this Paper was retracted for poor Data. It is a Difficulty for me, however, as there is Something about the Conclusion that speaks, deeply, to my Experience. Perhaps it is merely a Desire of mine and of those like me, perhaps an eternal Truth, but I feel it in my Bones, that Persuasion starts – and ends! – in Community with a Neighbour.

I worry, from Time to Time, that in the Echo-Chamber of the Aethernet, where it is laughably easy to expose oneself only to those with whom one agrees, that now, having so divided our Society, it will become only easier for no one to change their Mind. From there it is but a little Leap to believe that I, too, might begin to fear any Disruption of either my Facts or my Beliefs.

As I remarked to an Interlocutor recently, one who was also forged in the Fire of Knowledgebowl (or Academic Decathlon, or Quizbowl, select for yourself your Flavour), good Facts matter. I strive always to project a Humility in Disagreement over Facts, because I would ever rather learn good Facts. If I am mistaken, I desire Correction, for, in Knowledgebowl (and, I submit, in Life), the Path to Victory is paved with correct Information. Persons who become defensive when disproved only serve to shut down Dialogue, and deprive themselves of Victory by means of willful Ignorance.

Of Opinions and Beliefs however, having distinguished them from Facts, I aim for a Flexibility that acknowledges the Road I took to get to them. I believe a Thing now, and can tell you how I arrived at that Belief. Tomorrow I may be presented with new Data, may be forced to change my Mind, and will need the Cartograph of that new Route.

For any Belief to which I can currently Point, there was just such a Road – an Onramp or Origin which brought me to my present Site. There were Turns or Bends or Dips in the Way, and each of these brought be closer to the Waystation – and, I pray, to the Truth, distinguished as well from Opinion, Belief, or Fact, each one.

Combining these two Points – the Instinct declaring that in personal Discourse we have the greatest Chance to bring Others to our Way of thinking, and that each of my Beliefs has its own Highway, it occurred to me that many – perhaps most – of you do not know my Story, the Route that brought me to my current Encampment. I write this Series to give myself the Opportunity to Change your Mind, if even by the smallest Degree, in hearing where the Man you know Today came from. Whether your Acquaintance with me harks from Secondary School, or University, or Seminary, or beyond, or you know me only as “that mad Bloke what writes like a Gentry-Cove of merrye ol’ England on the ‘Net,” I hope that this Apology* will be fruitful for you. I feel sure that it will be for me.

 

* The word “apology” comes to us from the Greek apologia, a Word back, or in Reply. I use it here in both the Modern and the Classical Senses, for this Document will contain not only an Argument and Narrative, but also my sincere Regrets, Griefs, and Shames. At some Points it will, perforce, resemble a Confession – and an undirected Request for Forgiveness. For this, in Advance, I apologize.

De Hospitibus

I rather cannot believe that I feel obliged to say this aloud. The Point seems so elemental, so obvious to me from where I stand, that I cannot envision any Person imagining I could have any other Perspective. Certainly, likewise, I have great Difficulty in interpreting the perspectives of others on this Issue. Still and all, I must speak, lest I should keep an unholy Silence on one of this Nation’s greatest Trials. Thus, say I:

I condemn the Words of Mr. Donald Trump of New York, and the Attitudes and Fears that lie behind them. I declare myself opposed to any Abridgement of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, notably the Establishment of Religion and the Right to Peaceable Assembly. I, as an ordained Teaching Elder of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, as a Christian living in this Nation, yea, even as a human Being, I refuse to bow to Terror and the political Pressures of Thugs and Murderers from Abroad or Domestically. As Pastor, Christian, and Man, I declare that I support and endorse my Muslim Sisters and Brothers, their Right to worship as they choose, their Right to live and work in this Country, yea, their Right to live.

In support of this Standpoint, considered almost not at all by myself before its Composition, I offer the following Verses of Scripture.

First, from the Exodus of Israel, the Twenty-second Chapter, the Twenty-first through the Twenty-third verses:

21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 22 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. 23 If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;

And then, from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, the Twenty-fifth Chapter.

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Friends, this is the Gospel of our Lord. Not a Gospel of secured Borders and backgrounds Checked. Not a Gospel of watch Lists and Visas denied. Not a Gospel that says “No, not you.” The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ promises us no Safety, no Security, no Shelter, and no Succor. The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ promises us Christ alone…and eternal Life. And this promise it makes to Everyone, especially to Strangers, regardless Color or Nation.

And thus I say, to the estimable Mr. Trump – sir, you are wrong, and you do not speak for me. I speak for myself, when I say that I welcome Refugees, Immigrants, Muslims, and Persons of every Stripe and Kind to my Table. I so speak in the Name of Jesus the Christ, and I welcome these and more than these in His Name.

For my fearful Neighbors and Friends, I can say only this – if you believe on Jesus, then Anything you suffer in the Name of the Peace of Christ Jesus is a Martyrdom in His Witness. I should rather die a Victim of Terror than live a Victor because of it.

 

Post Scriptum

I considered linking to Mr. Trump’s Remarks, but shall choose instead to deny him further air Time. He must be taken seriously, as he currently leads the Polling for the Republican Party’s presidential Nomination. As with any communicable Illness, I shall choose hereafter to quarantine his Thinking, the better to prevent its Spread.