Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Hollow Victory

Our Man in the Pews is a blog written by someone who can write. That someone is Philip Sasser, writing for Oxford American: The Southern Magazine of Good Writing. He writes about issues of faith from a Southern context, and what he writes is effortlessly readable.

In his latest post, he puts his finger on a key aspect of the relationship between church and state:

It is a hollow victory that Christians gain when they convince judges that the municipal display of nativity scenes, crosses, and other accoutrements of the faith do not violate the Constitution. To do so requires arguing that religious imagery is so neutered by history and cultural familiarity that it no longer means much of anything at all.

Where once the nativity scene threatened the powers that be to the point of brutal infanticide, it has now become a reminder of how we have emptied the incarnation of all its power to the point where the powers can allow its re-enactment without feeling the slightest sense of threat to their legitimacy. This is not so much Civil Religion as civilized religion, religion with manners. A hollow victory indeed.

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