In the Air

Incredible, that we can in the span of 2 hours of actual air time move halfway across the country, leaving behind the brownscape of the southwestern desert to land in the lush greenery of the mid-west. What a blessing our technology is in so many ways, and what an amazing example and fulfillment of our God’s command to Adam and Eve to subdue the earth. That word has a lot of baggage associated with it these days, so I like the way some translations render it as be masters of it, or bring it under your control. Because of the abilities of our God-created minds, we can figure out how to lift ourselves off the ground. What an amazing thing to take for granted!

Our travel today went so smoothly, despite the fact that airports were busier than I’ve seen them in over a year! Standing room only at Sky Harbor, and not much quieter in the much smaller airport in Omaha.

Seated next to us on the flight was a very chatty and friendly woman. We learned a great deal about her and her life, and realized how much we have to learn and grow more at ease about sharing about ourselves and our lives! We talked about a variety of subjects, including her involvement in politics nationally and in Arizona. We learned that she was Jewish, but grew up in a religiously diverse part of New York and had attended Catholic mass many times as a child. It was clear that she was very much of the mindset that it didn’t much matter what you believed because there was beauty in every belief system.

As we waited to deplane, she showed us an article she was frustrated to read. It was in the Washington Post, and the lead was basically how the Roman Catholic Church was trying to clamp down and insist that politicians – particularly President Biden – who professed to be Roman Catholic and yet defended and advanced the cause of legal abortions should be denied the Eucharist. The article made it sound as though this was a move directed specifically at President Biden, and she was aghast and at a loss at how anyone could think such a move was in any way loving.

I struggled, wanting to respond to her. But we were in the process of exiting the plane and I was slow on my mental feet. Engaging her in a discussion about abortion was far too much for the few minutes we had left, and would require a great deal more background in order for her to hear me properly. I regret that in the end I didn’t respond.

In hindsight, I came up with a response, a response that might have given her pause for thought, if not about abortion itself, about how the media crafts news stories not to convey information somuchas to create an emotional response in the reader.

A better, less biased news article might have reported on what the Catholic Church was trying to accomplish – holding Roman Catholics to the teaching of the Church, and admonishing them when they willingly persisted in ignoring and flaunting those teachings and beliefs. This is not a political thing, but a matter of trying to help people understand what the Church believes and why, and help them live their lives in obedience to that teaching.

I don’t agree with everything the Roman Catholic church teaches – that’s why I’m not Roman Catholic! But there are areas where we could learn things from them, particularly in their theological approach to sexuality, marriage, procreation and abortion.

The oldest understanding of the Church is that it is wrong to take a human life. We get this not simply from the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and elsewhere, but from Genesis 1 and 2 which clearly depict all life as a divine gift and blessing. God reiterates this in Genesis 9 after the Flood. The Biblical stance on life is clear and Christians have long understood this. One of the earliest writings we have from Christians outside of Scripture itself is something called the Didache. It’s essentially a teaching guide for someone coming into the Christian faith, and indicates the central beliefs of the Church and how these beliefs play out in people’s lives. It clearly states, in contradiction to accepted and legal practices of the day, that Christians neither terminate pregnancies (abortion) or kill newborns (infanticide).

So ultimately the Roman Catholic Church is not aiming at President Biden, though of course it wishes he would abide by his professed Catholic identity and therefore work to end abortion rather than protect it. But the Church is rightly seeking to make sure those who want to consider themselves part of the Church are not publicly, willfully acting contrary to it’s teachings, particularly on something as important as the matter of human life.

That’s what I should have said, but didn’t think of it in time. I’m grateful for forgiveness for this failure.

We were met at the airport by my seminary classmate (and our communal living experiment roommate) Chris, who picked us up and drove us the two hours north to Norfolk, Nebraska. We had planned on staying at his house with his family for a few days but his youngest daughter came down very ill so we’ve made hotel reservations instead. We’re very grateful to him for lending us his car to use as we tool around Norfolk for the next few days.

We enjoyed a dinner of pizza and breadsticks with his family in the evening before heading back to the hotel. We got to see their home for the first time. They’ve visited with us several times over the years since seminary graduation as Chris had family not far from where we lived. It was nice to see their home for a change. Their kids were very excited to introduce us to the game of Ga-Ga Ball, which is a modified form of dodge ball played primarily below the knees in an enclosed area (theirs is square but we were told an octagon is better for making it harder to hide in corners). Much fun was had before we realized at nearly 9:30pm when it was still light that we ought to head out and get some sleep! Incredible how tiring just dealing with airports and sitting on an airplane can be! I think we’re going to sleep very well!

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