I am a convert to Catholicism.
Yesterday I began a program of inquiry with a lay group at a nearby monastery to see if I am willing to devote my remaining years to a practice of greater contemplation and prayer. Consider it this way: I am trying to be somewhat of a Dolores Hart, just not of Hollywood. (Dolores Hart was an actress who — at the height of her fame — joined a cloistered community of nuns, of which she later became the leader.)
At any rate, part of my renewed daily habit going forward will be not to start my day in the world of news and Twitter, which I have done since Donald Trump slithered down his gilded escalator seven years ago, but to begin my day “living in a spirit of contemplative prayer and sacrifice in obedience to God’s universal call to holiness.” I will start my mornings poring over Psalms, the daily readings from the Old and New Testaments, praying a rosary, studying a Bible passage and praying in contemplation, as well as having a period of meditative silence to hear God’s voice. (And attend daily Mass: still working on that one.)
In other words, things I was doing prior to combating Trump via social media. Things that brought great peace to my life and soul. To be in the world, not of the world.
This means that after the midterms, I will be leaving my leadership roles at DemCast as a co-captain of the Georgia and Equality Twitter rooms. I must not only return to taking care of my spiritual health but my physical health as well. Things are not going as well as they should in either arena right now.
Yet as I read today’s daily Gospel reading, I couldn’t help but put it into a political frame. It was the story of the Good Samaritan.
To understand the true context of this story, you must first know a little more information about who the Samaritans were to the Jews in Jesus’s time. (Luke 10:25-37)
They were their enemies, living in the hillsides. Their hatred for one another arose from religious differences, namely the Samaritans’ acceptance of the Torah as their sole religious text and the site that they believe God chose for his dwelling.
Let’s reset this story in terms of Red State/Blue State politics. And let’s put our antagonistic tribes along the border of Texas and New Mexico.
One day, while working along the border, a Red State Texan — like the Jew in the story Jesus tells in Luke — is set upon by unknown assailants. The Texan is robbed, beaten and left by the roadside for dead.
Two other members of the Red State Texas elite happen upon this poor person. In Jesus’s telling it was a priest (member of the High Temple) and a Levite (priest’s assistant).*
In our case we will refer to them as a governor and a member of the Texas State Legislature.
In Jesus’s telling, the priest (our Texas governor) and the Levite (a member of the State Legislature) both see the beaten Red State Texan but keep to the other side of the road and pass him by. Their reasons could be many:
- They didn’t see him as sufficiently loyal to the newly anointed High Priest Trump and he was therefore considered unworthy, aka, a RINO;
- Every person down on their luck should be able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, and if they can’t do that, they don’t deserve help;
- Red State Texans don’t believe in medical care for all, and those who can’t pay for their own don’t deserve it.
Luckily for the badly injured Red State Texan, a Blue State New Mexican happens to be driving past. (Just as in Jesus’s tale about the Samaritan). She helps the injured Red State Texan lie down on some blankets in the bed of her pickup. While she must drive hundreds of miles to the nearest rural hospital (the inn in Jesus’s telling), she leaves the Red State Texan with the doctor (innkeeper) and waits for an update on the victim’s condition.
She has important business to which she must attend but signs the financial responsibility line on the hospital financial documents so the Red State Texan can be treated. On her way back, she plans to stop and see how he is doing and whether he has insurance to cover the bill.
As a Blue State resident, she may do these things because:
- She believes every person is imbued with inherent dignity and should be treated that way;
- She believes medical care is a human right, not a capitalistic business venture; critical medical care resources should be conveniently located for all;
- If it were she lying alongside that road — torn, battered and robbed of her resources — she would want someone to help her as she had helped the Red Texan, without concern about their differences in political ideology.
- She understands the mythology of the “self-made” person and that it is an idol to egotism: no one gets where they are going in life without help along the way.
At the end of this story in Luke, Jesus asks, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robber’s victim?” In other words, were the members of the victim’s own political tribe concerned for his very life, or was it his “political enemy” who turned out to have been more helpful to him, as if he lived right next door, rather than across the border in a place that abhors Blue State values?
I will leave it to your contemplation to decide.
*“For most of Biblical history, the tribe of Levi is set apart as the clerical tribe in Israel, entrusted with all matters related to worship and religious instruction.” Source: Catholic Bible Dictionary, by Scott Hahn.
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