I live in a part of the country where the five-letter word taxes
is often used as a four-letter word. Folks around here are highly
skeptical of government even as they say we have the best government in
Noting that Jesus’ interlocutors in today’s gospel reading were truly
amazed at his answer, Stanley Hauerwas comments that it’s too bad
Christians have not been equally amazed. Rather than being amazed that
Jesus has come to usher in God’s reign, we are preoccupied with the
politics and rulers of the world.
It’s been widely assumed that a political ethic can be read in Jesus’ answer to “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?” and that the social location of the conversation can be ignored or considered irrelevant. But only the most interiorized notion of discipleship can be indifferent to the social circumstances in which discipleship is embodied.
I was emphasizing to parents of confirmands that the young people should be with their families in worship as part of their preparation for membership. “I’m afraid we don’t have time for worship,” one mother told me after the meeting. Her words were soothing and gentle, yet they sounded condescending, as if she were explaining something to a not-very-bright child. “We’ve committed to soccer and cheerleading for my youngest on Sunday mornings. We have a full plate."
In the Front Line television documentary “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero,” an angry man who has lost many friends expresses rage toward God. “I don’t have problems with the Son,” he says, “but I have real problems with the Father.”