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Archive for April, 2017

Michael Wear’s Reclaiming Hope is a fascinating read — in large part because the author is one of the few surviving members of the Obama 2008 campaign. Not that many of the other members have died, of course, but the vast majority either (a) revealed subsequently that they had never believed the unifying, third-way rhetoric that featured in the famous 2004 DNC Convention speech and the Obama 2008 campaign, or (b) ceased to believe it. Michael Wear is a true believer, and the best kind of true believer: a chastened one. He can see expedient shifts, cynicism, and outright treachery, and still believe.

One of Mr. Wear’s most helpful statements in the book, about the contrast between a healthy political party and an unhealthy one, is badly needed today: a healthy party seeks converts, while an unhealthy one hunts heretics. And heresy-hunting — which gunks up political discourse as few gunks can — is now a thoroughly bipartisan phenomenon.

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On pretty much every high holy day, I could say “American Christians need to recover the fullness of the wonder of . . .”: at Christmas, the appreciation of downward mobility; at Epiphany, that the doors of the kingdom of God are now flung open; on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the ethic, sacrament, and theology of the cross.

But I’ve come around to the idea that the most overlooked day, the one overlooked as a middle child, is the one we mark today: Holy Saturday, Easter Even, the Sabbath of Sabbaths.

The Ancient Creeds of the Church Catholic, and the early Litany of the Church of England, did not overlook the day: “crucified, dead and buried” say the Creeds; “by thy precious death and burial” reads the Litany. The burial is more than a beat on the way to the glorious Resurrection. It is the narrow way that leads to life.

In our self-sufficiency, we call tales of self-improvement “redemption stories” — as if a prisoner on the auction block could redeem himself from slavery. In our impatience, we heal wounds lightly, proclaim “peace” when there is no peace, and pass off resuscitation as “Resurrection.” In our desperate, shallow optimism, we grasp any set of spectacles that will allow us to overlook the vaporous nature of life under the sun.

For this constitutional impatience and self-sufficiency, the only remedy is a season of meditation upon the fact that Christ was buried. On the seventh day, God rested in the tomb. In its darkness, the body of Christ rests with nothing “but the bare hope of resurrection.”*

* Austin Farrer, The Crown of the Year: Weekly Paragraphs for the Holy Sacrament (paragraph for Lent V).

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