Ideological Idolatry

28Oct07

This week, the Senate of the United States will be taking up the issue of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which just passed in the House of Representatives this past week. The bill is likely to meet with a veto from President Bush, the same fate it met at the beginning of October when it first found its way onto the President’s desk. The response from the White House towards the bill–which would provide health care for children of low-income families who earn too much to qualify for Medicare but not enough to afford private health insurance–is supported by a bi-partisan majority and is seen as a compassionate and necessary bill.

Why the apparently cold opposition? An insightful article from a high school newspaper offers a clue. The Bush administration has become entangled in the quagmire of ideological rigidness. Through a combination of unwavering support of privatization, moral opposition to welfare, political entrenchment against taxes, and a sheer pig-headed adherence to ideology that has been the hallmark of his administration, President Bush cannot see, much less act, outside of his self-imposed boundaries.

While it is easy to stand on the outside and criticize President Bush for his failure of vision and compassion, it is much harder to recognize the same ideological traps when you are caught in them yourself. As a religious person and a seminarian, I frequently encounter such ideological blindness. Perhaps the biggest example of the same phenomenon is the issue of homosexuality in the Episcopal Church.

As I have written previously, the House of Bishops called for the Bishops of the Episcopal Church to show restraint in the consecration of openly homosexual Bishops. It just so happens that the Diocese of Chicago is in the process of choosing a new Bishop, and this weekend I had the opportunity to meet the candidates. A few of the 8 individuals strike be as potentially making wonderful Bishops for our Diocese. Unfortunately, one of the high quality candidates is a lesbian in a committed and loving relationship with her partner.

As a result, it is unlikely that she will be allowed to bring her ministry and talent to our Diocese, even we were to determine that she is the best qualified to fill the position. The Episcopal Church has acquiesced the Anglican Communion and in doing so has allowed itself to become bound by an ideology that prevents us from doing what is right and compassionate.

Bondage to ideology is nothing less than idolatry–by binding ourselves we deny our ability to follow the movement of the Spirit, thereby placing our own beliefs above God. Rigidness in belief places the idea of God before God. How can it be overcome? By accepting the unknowability of God and walking humbly on the path of God.

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