Many of us when we hear the words "Protestant Reformation" think
of Martin Luther. We think of his powerful points challenging an established religion and its priests about their behavior;
... challenging how they had twisted doctrine to support and sustain their considerable social authority.
If in his dissent Luther had great fear for his salvation and the correctness
of his redefinition of religion, he dealt with that concern very well. Subsequent events are proof that one person's absolutes
are not the absolutes of another and that God was never on the side of one at the expense of the other.
Had the Catholic absolutes of that time been the absolutes of God - and
the Roman authorities certainly attempted and succeeded in many cases intimidating those who agreed with Luther - God would
not have allowed the rise of Protestantism into the "formal" status it has today.
Likewise, this on-going convulsion in America will never be subject to a
god of civics, patriotism or nationalism who will ultimately intervene and establish what it means to be a worthy citizen.
In thinking literally and inerrantly - as the Catholic priesthood had for years insisted it was doing on behalf of all Christians
- successful suppression of the Protestant movement leading to its extinction would have been seen as a repudiation of dissent
and of the Protestant movement by God Himself.
Obvious now is the fact that God did not intervene on the side of those
who pretended to a possession of absolute biblical Christian truth. If there was repudiation, it was at the least an indication
that the harsh, inflexible and unchanging God was in fact an illusion.
I feel that this analogy has legitimacy with that "other topic we're not
to discuss in groups" - politics.
Today Americans find themselves widely divided over authority, the literal
definition of what it means to be a good citizen, a loyal American and a real patriot. Conflict between the long-time military
knee-jerk tradition of not challenging the civilian leadership has collided big time now with the open attempt to exploit
military strength through lies and manipulation.
This remains a battle for the heart and soul of what it means to be American
in a global society dominated by who we are as well as what we have become. As openly rigid, doctrinaire, inflexible and driven
by greed as so many at the apex of government abetted by soulless lobbyists have been, it has become evident that we cannot
demonize or vilify everyone who has and does disagree with us.
Here on the ground level, for the most part we are not in conflict with
persons who consciously and deliberately support a cynical and manipulative squandering of American blood, influence and wealth.
Most of those on the streets where we live now advocate for the essentially the same things.
The difference is in doctrine and form. And at this ground zero level where
we march, we speak, we argue and we agitate, the ultimate removal of American blood from harm's way will not result in a victory
in our streets of who was right over who was wrong.
Such would be a false victory in that both sides would lose.
Back to religion, the success of the historical Protestant Reformation might
be best described as a win/win circumstance in that God did not repudiate one point of view at the expense of the other. Both
points of view survived and both remain powerfully connected to God and Christ today. But the weakness of that victory demonstrates
itself among Catholics and Protestants who remain
This compares to the more than 225 years of experience living under a Constitution
that, in its own way, is one of the most successful historical documents ever. In our history we have seen the evolution of
a multi-faceted society based not only on religion and philosophy, but on cultural diversity without which our positive American
mythology of a melting pot came to be part of our national psyche.
Under our Constitution we have seen the growth of a habitual way of looking
at things - an automatic stance if you will - that allows for diversity of opinion and the freedom to express opinion. A renewal
of civic consciousness in this country should not be about legislative, executive or judicial imposition of a political or
religious ideology. It should be about dialogue over differences and an honest look at the highest good of all concerned.
The ultimate lesson we are still learning is that political ideology and
untrammeled corporate priority cannot not be the basis for seeking government power at the expense of society as a whole.
If we are to reform our moral and ethical practices in this country, we
need to define our citizenship in relationship to our power as a diverse society, our prosperity as a tool of reform, our
dominant position on a global scale as an instrument of advocating peace, our spiritual and cultural values as a means toward
compassion toward one another.
© Arthur Ruger 2007