Image by Gary Meulemans from Unsplash Fr. Stephen Freeman writes about the modern condition in a way that resonates with me and what I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. I think we are often disappointed that God refuses to behave as the god of modernity. The extremes of the “prosperity” preachers are only the most egregious examples of modernity’s god. There are others, more subtle. For example, we expect God to cooperate with our political projects (both Left and Right).
In the book of Acts, St. Paul travels to Athens. He carries the gospel to an area teeming with idols. He addresses the following to the people in the Areopagus:
For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.
St. Paul goes on to explain the Christian God and how in Him “we live and move and have our being.”
Anglican Archdeacon Andrew Brashier imagines Paul in a similar situation in his own suburban environment, amongst the Christmas decorations, but not seeing the spirit of Christ.
Then Paul stood in the midst of the lights and decorations in the city and said, “People of Suburbia, I perceive that in all things you are also religious. For as I passed by and beheld your lights and decorations, I found a blow-up with this inscription: ‘Happy Holidays’. What you therefore celebrate in ignorance, Him I declare unto you.”
This reminds me of the stories about the missionaries from other countries coming to spread the gospel in the U.S.