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.”
As I was putting our nine-year-old son to bed, I bent down to kiss him goodnight. He reached up, pulled my face toward his, and gave me seven kisses—four down and three across—on my forehead. Then he looked me in the eye and said, "Mom, you are blessed."
"Did you realize you kissed me in the shape of a cross?" I asked him.
Though I grew up during the civil unrest and cultural change that marked the '60s and '70s, my middle-American, middle-class, mainstream-Christian upbringing still led me to assume that patriotism and Christian discipleship were highly compatible, mutually reinforcing commitments.