EDITORIAL: Humility's healing

Partisan political businesses – sometimes operating as non-profits or high-sounding advocacy organizations – take delight and make money in criticizing government and the party in control.
Nothing is off-limits for either Republicans or Democrats.
An eruption of criticism in the past few weeks seeks to make political hay and rake in donor cash by lambasting President Obama for saying America has sometimes acted arrogantly toward allies, and he has apologized for errors in action and policy.
Some deem that weakness, even treason. Most of the criticism has come from the conservaive right and the religious right.
The protests ring hollow from a moral and religious grounding, especially for those who claim America is a “Christian” nation, with a linkage often made that America is God’s chosen nation, the new Israel, thus above error and arrogance, and thus above the need for any apology.
Those who hold that view need to read the Bible, especially the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, whose righteous anger toward a wayward, arrogant and errant Israel fills hundreds of pages.
The prophet Jeremiah calls Israel a prostitute, a promiscuous camel in heat, and then he heaps curses on Israel’s children and children’s children. Jeremiah, through 23 chapters, uses a prophetic voice to criticize the injustice in Israel as it turned its back to God.
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Take warning, O Jerusalem, or I will turn away from you and make your land desolate so no one can live in it.'” (Jeremiah 6:8)
The noted journalist, Michael Gerson, an evangelical, says in a recent commentary for The Washington Post, “… (T)he loose language of creating or re-creating a ‘Christian America’ has always been a heresy, a historical error and a blunder. A heresy because no human kingdom, however admirable, can be properly identified with the Kingdom of God. A historical error because the federal government has been wisely nonsectarian from its beginning – its laws informed by religious values while establishing no single, official religious tradition. A blunder because the conflation of faith and ideology can politicize, nationalize and thus diminish the appeal of faith itself.”
The wisdom of history suggests humility and not presumptions of infallibility as the better way.
The esteemed American revivalist, Jonathan Edwards, in “Humility,” said, “Humility tends to prevent an aspiring and ambitious behavior among men. The man that is under the influence of a humble spirit is content with such a situation among men, as God is pleased to allot to him, and … does not affect to appear uppermost and exalted above his neighbors …
“If we then consider ourselves as the followers of the meek and lowly and crucified Jesus, we shall walk humbly before God and man all the days of our life on earth.
“Let all … endeavor to be humble in all their behavior toward God and men.”
The attitudes of nations reflect the attitudes of people who lead them.
Thomas Merton, the late and admired Trappist monk, wrote in “Thoughts in Solitude,” that humility is a virtue, “not a neurosis.”
“Humility sets us free to do what is really good by showing us our illusions … If we were really humble we would know to what extent we are liars.”
Humility, Merton suggests, is the surest way to find hope entirely in God.


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