In the later second century, an anonymous author wrote a Letter to Diognetus. As people come to grips with the events of November 6, we might do well to remember the limits of what we should expect from our—any—country, and the extent of our duties to a higher power.
They dwell in their own fatherlands, but as if sojourners in them; they share all things as citizens, and suffer all things as strangers. Every foreign country is their fatherland, and every fatherland is a foreign country. They marry as all men, they bear children, but they do not expose their offspring. They offer free hospitality, but guard their purity. Their lot is cast ‘in the flesh,’ but they do not live ‘after the flesh’ (2 Cor. 10:3). They pass their time upon the earth, but they have their citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20). They obey the appointed laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives. They love all men and are persecuted by all men. They are unknown and they are condemned. They are put to death and they gain life. (quoted in O’Donovan and O’Donovan, From Irenaeus to Grotius: A Sourcebook in Christian Political Thought, Eerdmans 1999, pp. 12-13)
Certain good and important institutions, beliefs, and practices are under assault today. But no cause is lost, any more than a cause can, finally, be won. However bad things get in the coming months and years—and I expect them to get quite bad for those who refuse to “progress” toward full immersion in the culture of death—it would be prideful to believe we face hardships of the same magnitude as those in whose spiritual paths we seek to follow. Lowered expectations (though not despair) in the world of politics may be a gift in that they may help us concentrate on more important, permanent things.
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