Monday, March 16, 2009

The Fruit of the Spirit and Conservativism

Years ago, as a "move of the Spirit" was affecting a church, many were skeptical and wondered if it was of God or not. My response was this: look for the fruit of the Spirit. If anything is of God, we will see the truth through the prism of His Word. Does a spiritual experience deepen our love for Him? Are we moved to repentance? Is the fruit of the Spirit more evident in our lives?

I have always loved St. Paul's letter to the Galatians. In 5:22 and 23, we learn what the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control. These nine "fruits" have helped guide me considerably in discerning what is a true "move of the Spirit" and who is an authentic spiritual leader. In St. Matthew 12:32,33, Jesus instructs His disciples:

And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come. Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by its fruit.

I was reminded of this truth recently when I attended a social media symposium on Thursday and Friday. The topic was "remix," which is becoming more popular today in our fast-paced world. It is a form of communication and many consider it an art form. A remix is when someone takes clips of various video footage, and then "remixes" it and adds audio - creating a social expression; often observations on culture and society.

However, sitting among the group, I realized I was probably one of the few conservatives there if not the only conservative. Remixing has attracted a decidedly politically-left bunch. There were six videos shown that slammed President Bush and war. Only one seemed to slightly mock President Obama. The panels were filled with the usual suspects - anti-American self-styled "artists" and those who felt somehow cheated because of their race or sexual preference. Most were filled with a certain self-righteousness that came across as arrogant. What really impressed me was this sense of seriousness. Most of them took what was being discussed so seriously. As though it was a matter of National Security that they be allowed to hijack someone else's creativity in order to produce their own worldview.

That's when I thought about the fruit of the Spirit and it's possible connection to Conservatism.

I think I'm safe in saying that the majority of people who consider themselves Conservatives are also believers in God. Many of them are Christians. (note: I am aware that there are atheists who are conservatives. But they are not the majority.) Those Christian beliefs are reflected in their attitudes and actions. Contrast this with the attitudes and actions of those who consider themselves Liberals (or "Progressives").

I told my father long ago that I've never met a radical feminist who was happy. I still hold firm to that opinion. Where is the joy? The peace? The kindness, goodness, self-control? Nowhere. They are, sadly, an unhappy lot, erroneously believing their predicament is someone else's fault.

When I was at this symposium, I realized how out-of-touch I was with what is considered the 'norm' for any major university campus. Both the attendees and the panel members were unfriendly. There was a chill in the air as I looked around, surprised that I didn't feel comfortable with least trying to make light conversation with someone. Even before the symposium started, there was no laughter or lightness of spirit. Evidently, talking about copyright issues and open source was too important to even smile at those just entering the room. Yeesh.

No love. No joy. No peace. No humility.

Is it any wonder why those who consider themselves Very Important Artists are obsessed with everything that is the opposite of those fruits? Here they are: Hate, Unhappiness, Discontent, Impatience, Rudeness, Evil, Infidelity, Arrogance, Licentiousness. In other words, don't tell them God loves them and if they can embrace that truth, they'll be filled with joy. It's much more interesting for them to record the world's misery.

This is why, more than ever, we need Christian artists to step up to the plate. We have a life-changing message. Will they listen? Many will not but some will. Let us bear the fruit of the Spirit and spread the Good News.

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