“Between the forces of terror and the forces of dialogue, a great unequal battle has begun. I have nothing but reasonable illusions as to the outcome of that battle. But I believe it must be fought, and I know that certain men at least have resolved to do so. I merely fear that they will occasionally feel somewhat alone, that they are in fact alone, and that after an interval of two thousand years we may see the sacrifice of Socrates repeated several times. The program for the future is either a permanent dialogue or the solemn and significant putting to death of any who have experienced dialogue.” (Albert Camus, The Unbeliever and Christians)
About a decade ago when my kids were still quite small, I felt the need to prepare them for potential martyrdom. I read the story of Blessed Miguel Pro, a martyr of the Revolution in Mexico and I started thinking. And once I get to thinking…
How could such a thing happen?
Less than 100 years ago.
In a Christian country.
With a democratically elected president.
Priest and nuns were driven out of the country or else put to death. Church attendance and baptisms and funerals banned. Citizens put before a firing squad for the crime of daring to worship without state approval.
Surely, such a thing could not happen here. But why couldn’t it? It did just south of our border with all the earthly “protections” in place. You know those protections? Like democracy and elections and state approved churches.
So, I started reading the children stories of martyrs and we started watching movies like For Greater Glory. They needed to know the conditions of the battle to which we are called as followers of Christ.
No one likes to think about it. It’s much more pleasant to stay in that blissful state of denial. Ignorance is bliss, until one is called to pick a side.
At the time we were going to a big Protestant semi-mega church in Los Angeles. I served in the children’s ministry. One year at our kick-off gathering the new theme for the year was announced by the children’s pastor: Jesus is fun!
My heart sank. I stepped down from that ministry position. I could never look children—who can sort truth from bullshit better than any polygraph—in the eye and tell them that the essence of their faith was fun. Any Christian who has ever been told to fast or give their possessions to the poor knows better. Children are no exception.
Jesus gives us life more abundantly. He loves us. With him is fullness of joy.
But “Jesus is fun” is a slap in the face to those who were crucified upside down for him, who were eaten by lions, burned at the stake, and faced the firing squad….for daring to have a Mass.
With all the current events, I believe it was the Holy Spirit who inspired us to prepare to by martyrs. Whether we will have to face a firing squad is really not relevant. We are being called daily to own our doctrine, the principles of freedom, and the dignity of every human person. It is being attacked on all sides. Are you ready for your muzzle?
This is the time for all Christians to put up or shut up. As Camus tells Christians to own “the virtue of revolt and indignation that belonged to it long ago.” Because if we don’t “Christians will live and Christianity will die.”
And if you need a little inspiration to every day be a little rebel against the tide of our culture, I am putting together a playlist for my resistance, to help fuel my reasonable illusions.
What would you add? Let me know in the comments or on my Instagram. I will add all reasonable contributions.