As tragedy struck an acquaintance this week, I was reminded today of the fleeting nature of life. The Psalmist begged God, “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” What can one say to that but, Amen! As important and precious as our lives are, they are fleeting, delicate, ephemeral.
But Christmas is a season when we pause to remember and to honor the advent of the Creator who took on human vesture, as the Liturgy of St. James so memorably puts it, and in doing so we catch a glimpse of the eternal. Politics, though important, gets put into perspective.
Yet Christmas was also the day I was reminded of how quickly and perversely even the highest things are misused for low purposes. I realized almost immediately that I had made a mistake when, out of sheer habit, I looked at Twitter on Christmas morning. Within moments I happened upon a tweet from the Bronx’s newest congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
It began cheerfully enough: “Joy to the world.” Wonderful. “Merry Christmas everyone.” And a Merry Christmas to you, too! I thought. Look, per Rodney King, we can all just get along if only for a morning. The congresswoman-elect continued: “. . . here’s to a holiday filled with happiness, family, and love . . .” Lovely. Sounds like just the way to spend Christmas.
But just after this bit things started to get dicey. What she actually said was, “. . . here’s to a holiday filled with happiness, family, and love for all people.” And just after the period was an earth emoji. My antennae were now on high alert. I know where this leads and it isn’t good. It’s not that I am opposed to happiness, family, love for all people, or even the earth. Far from it! The apostle John wrote, “We (Christians) love because he (God) first loved us.”
No, I was on alert because I have seen this movie before and I know how it ends. Progressives open with the Bible (Joy to the world!) and close with whatever ill-advised talking point tops their current agenda. And Ocasio-Cortez did not disappoint. When she said, “all people” and added the little earth emoji, that was a signal—or what the Left likes to call a “dog whistle.” It meant, America isn’t just for Americans, it’s the common property of the whole world and you selfish, backward, deplorable boobs who think otherwise are just delaying our entry into the progressive utopia that’s always just a day away.
As expected, she lowered the boom after the emoji by adding, “(including refugee babies in mangers + their parents.)” The syntax is a bit awkward, I don’t think there were many (any?) refugee babies in mangers in the United States this year. Surely if there were, they would have been located by some intrepid CNN reporter and a headline would have blared, “Trump Detains Children In Barns For Christmas.” Rather, she was smuggling her political agenda into a Christmas message and using rhetorical sleight of hand to conflate the two.
She’s wrong on several counts, the least of which is her biblical illiteracy.
She wants you to believe that Jesus, the incarnate Lord, was a refugee, as he lay in the manger in Bethlehem. He was not. Luke tells us that Joseph and Mary had traveled there to be counted in a census.
Worse though, is the implication that if Americans believe they have a right to control their borders, control who and what goes in and out of the country, and, most important, who becomes a citizen and thus has a say in governing the country, that those people are somehow guilty of denying the Lord or that they would have denied the Lord 2,000 years ago. It is a shameful mischaracterization of the Gospel and attempt to manipulate people using their Christian faith for transient political ends.
It is particularly vexing that it comes from a woman of the Left as it is the Left that wages open war on Christianity, that a century ago forsook the Gospel of Christ for the social gospel. It is what Princeton theologian J. Gresham Machen called “the type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases” but which is, in fact, a “modern non-redemptive religion called ‘modernism’ or ‘liberalism.’” It is also a gross act of bad faith and is a cancer on our politics.
I will respectfully disagree with many on the Right who say that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Millennial know-nothing. That’s not true. It’s just that nearly everything she thinks she knows is wrong.
But she is not alone. I won’t make a political point here. Rather, I’ll follow the Psalmist once again, who reminded us that “man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” A gravestone at the church of St. Martin’s in the Fields in London captures it nicely:
Remember, Man as thou goes by
As thou are Now, so Once was I
As I am Now, so must thou be
Prepare thyself to follow me
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