Getting Better, Getting Healed

Our columns for The Hill Country News are due on the Wednesday before they actually appear in the paper. So, I’m writing this article on November 1, one week before the election. But even though I don’t know which candidate is going to win, I do know how it’s all going to end.

It’s going to be disappointing.

I mean, think about it: We are The United States of America; we are a symbol, throughout the world, of freedom and dignity and hope. And, by the time you read this, we will have elected to the highest office in our land, one of two dishonest and venal candidates. Just that fact alone should indicate that something is seriously wrong with our culture.

So, how can we do better?

We have to start by walking away from politics. I’m not one of those folks who’s prepared to give up on the whole system, but, at this point, it has become clear that, in our society, politics is no longer about principles. It’s about power. We can talk all we want about electing candidates and appointing judges and formulating positions and policies and programs, but if we are willing to be deceptive and bigoted and dishonorable in the pursuit of those goals, then all we are interested in is power. And if you think this past election was frightening and disgusting, just think about what it’s going to be like twenty years down the road.

So, more politics is not the answer; we have to go deeper.

We have to start paying attention to the fundamental realities of our existence. We have to start listening to the longings that are rooted in our heart of hearts. We have to start reorienting our lives towards a horizon that reaches beyond this life.

In other words, we need the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; we need The Most Holy Trinity; we need God.

Now a whole lot of you are going to reject that statement automatically because that’s Christian talk, and the only experience you have with Christianity is the weaponized version of the Faith that you see in every election. And I don’t blame you a bit for that reaction. However, when I talk about Christianity, I’m not talking about the conservative mythology which insists that this country was founded as the ultimate expression of Evangelical Protestantism. And I’m not talking about the progressive ideology which proclaims that we can turn this country into the Kingdom of Heaven by mandating universal health care and forgiving student loans.

The Christianity I’m talking about actually predates our country by 1700 years. It’s called Orthodox Christianity, and this week is the perfect time to experience it—because, trust me: after the results of this election are announced, we’re all going to need a spiritual shower; we’re all going to need some way to wash off the gunk.

So let me give you an invitation: This Thursday, November 10 and this Friday, November 11 at 5:00 a.m., we will be offering our morning worship service. We do that every morning of the week, so if this Thursday and Friday don’t work for you, just check out the calendar on our website, and pick another day. But you are welcome to come and be a part of that and begin the long process of connecting with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And here’s what you need to understand: In Orthodox Christianity, we practice what’s called liturgical worship. That means the service is formal, and that also means no one is going to say (at five in the morning): “Hey! Isn’t it great to be here! Let’s all get to our feet and start the day by singing praises to the Lord!” In fact, the service doesn’t require you to do anything at all but sit and listen—and sitting and listening to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the best way to start redirecting our lives and rebuilding our culture.

The service lasts almost an hour and a half but, precisely because the worship is so structured, you can leave whenever it’s time to hit the road for work or school and just join us again on a different morning. But that’s something else you need to know about Orthodox Christianity: we don’t get in a hurry. We pray for an hour and a half each week day morning, and we’ve been doing that for a couple of millennia now. So the goals that we’re working on go way, way beyond the next election cycle.

If you’d like to help us achieve those goals, then join us on Thursday or Friday. No one will try to obtain your contact information; no one will even ask your name. Because this isn’t about forming a coalition or starting a movement—it’s much more basic than that: It’s about being better people; it’s about healing our culture; it’s about entering into relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.