Travel with me, if you will, to the the water’s edge in Greece earlier this month. Beneath you, as you wait, the dust is shuffled about by the crowd’s anxious feet. And as you shield your eyes from the sun, you share in taking in the inescapable salt-filled air. Before you, the Greek Orthodox priest raises a glittering cross high above. And you’re apprised of the small group of young men, only in shorts, who tautly stand at the ready, prepared to plunge into the cold waters of competition. Indeed, only one boy will find the cross and retrieve it from the ocean bottom for the Blessing of the Waters and the Epiphany.
And as rituals go, you don’t have to be a genius to draw from the symbolism. In this nearly two thousand year old tradition, man stands before God, waiting. But not as an individual alone in a wilderness of despair. Instead, it is as a community of people, bound together in their different roles by a scared ceremony, yet all anxious for the presence of the Spirit to descend upon their number. And in that crowd, the young men rank together as an unbreakable force for reclaiming from the depths what is holy and good among you.
Now, let us turn to the new symbols of the United States. As most of you are already aware, this week, the so-called “most popular” candidate in history will be ushered in with no one present except the military. Democracy? Doesn’t look like it. And in the walled fortress they’ve constructed to lock out the public, these bureaucrats and their crony class have grown increasingly paranoid. In one instance, a homeless man’s tent fire nearby sends them into a tailspin. Yet, in another instance, they vet military members, not for extremism, but by commonplace political beliefs, to ensure their rank and file has its own shocktroops.
— Military Times (@MilitaryTimes) January 15, 2021
Meanwhile, we’re treated to a slew of buffoonish but equally symbolic “granting of positions.” For one, the Federal Reserve will now take the head of the Treasury, representing the final merging of the private financial system with the government. Then in another, a transgender doctor who advocated for Covid-safe orgies will become one of the highest health officials in the land. Or put differently, woke corporatism is officially merging with the tyranny of an overtly political class of “scientific” experts. Even as I write this piece, the new administration is giving banks the ability to go after their cultural opponents, as I predicted.
BREAKING: Biden vows to eliminate banking regulations that require banks to make decisions based on impartial risk-based standards, rather than political or reputational concerns. Arguing that banks should be free to refuse service to conservatives. https://t.co/ruVwpdzvYw
— @amuse (@amuse) January 19, 2021
But these are the symbols you have left. One, an old drama of sanctification. It’s not always perfect or without its controversies. Even so, it has a language that millions and millions have understood throughout history, from the poorest to the most downtrodden. In it, there is redemption for every man, woman, and child. And an unassailable place for dialogue, compassion, and human dignity.
And then, there is the the other: an empire committed to destruction, empty humiliation, and a rhetoric not far removed from calling for genocide. You may tell yourself its symbols are merely trivial, as you don your mask for a pandemic that never came but indicating how diseased you are and as you plead for money from a system that will attack your most basic of beliefs simply because they’re naturally shared among you. And you may pray that it allows you to keep some vestige of your former life, however tiny the crumb, even as you bow at the altar of its obscene irrationality, stupidity, and violence.
For countless people, they’re likely to have their own epiphany tomorrow, as they wake up to these two very real, very current visions of the world. And their choice between the two. Hopefully, many pastors and priests will also take note and wake up from their failure to stand apart from the world or live without fear, as religious leaders. And before it’s too late.
Still, let us, as regular Christian men, prepare to go into those waters unflinchingly to retrieve our cross.