Righteous or Self-Righteous?

Oh, it’s been one of those days. Maybe it’s the freaky snow storm that hit the northeast, maybe it is people wondering if they have been April Fool’d, or maybe it was the haywire hacking that hit Facebook today – people are tetchy and strange.

Yee dawgies! You jes' hold on there, young uns!

Fractious, contentious, argumentative – yes, that was public discourse today. It’s been a long winter, and it’s the middle of Lent.

Arguments that surfaced, wholly unconnected, today: Whether Christians should celebrate Easter (yeah, I know – that’s WHY we are Christians, but this was confusion over the word Easter, which is derived from the pagan/germanic word for spring); whether Christians should speak out against Islam – this was in connection with the burning of a Quran inciting a riot in Afghanistan – and how they should speak out. And then there was Braveheart.

The movie, starring Mel Gibson in bad hair extensions. No, I won’t post a photo because you all know the iconic shot of Mel, face painted blue, trying to look all noble and medieval. It isn’t accurate to history, there’s a bit of hanky-panky involved (Mel Gibson!) but all in all, despite the violence, it is a film worth watching. I wouldn’t let my thirteen year old watch it, maybe, but the young man who posted that he was watching Braveheart tonight is well past that age. He also isn’t likely to buy a broadsword and start hacking at his enemies, or try to seduce French princesses in drafty old towers.

People got nasty. Violence, sex, nudity. God would be unhappy.

Points to make: A) It is about war. Violence is part of war. It doesn’t make war look like fun; it makes war look like hell. B) Sex. Yeah, we all know where babies come from. If I remember, the sex is kind of obscure – it isn’t a porno. C) Nudity. Grownups have seen naked people before. Get over it. And if you have ever watched a movie with Mel Gibson in it, you know you are going to see his nekkid butt. He loves to show that thing. Yawn.  I think the worst thing about watching Braveheart is seeing the progression of leprosy in the Old Bruce.

I am thoroughly disgusted by the actions of Terry Jones, the Florida preacher who has incited violence by burning a Quran, or rather, and more accurately, encouraging his associate to burn a Quran, in yet another of his attention grabbing schemes. This is not what Christianity is about. The stunt didn’t get much news coverage in America, but it made the front pages in Afghanistan, and incited a riot that cost UN personnel their lives. People who have never heard of Terry Jones died because of his bigotry. So I have stated on Facebook that I will no longer entertain items in my news feed that attempt to raise anger and public ire against Islam. And someone tried to argue it with me. Look, links to scurrilous websites that promote misunderstanding, lies and hatred are not going to be part of my life. I’ve already said that about anti-abortion links – I am pro-life, but I do not want to see photos of dismembered fetuses. This does not honour their loss or atone for their suffering. It is disrespectful. People got taken off my friends list for that – and I removed someone today who despite my warning, provocatively posted a link to misinformation. She thinks she is witnessing to Muslims, but this is merely inciting argument.

I will not be watching Braveheart, or any violent movie. My heart is no longer in the fight for freedom. Perhaps that is for young men, if they can grasp the metaphor. I am anticipating that martyrdom is more likely, as my stand as a pacifist becomes stronger. It is exciting to think we are changing the world through facebook, but we aren’t. We could – if we use it to strengthen relationships, rally for peace, and pray for each other. But an argument gets us nowhere, except farther apart.

So watch Braveheart if you are so inclined. Remember, though, that war is brutal. Think of the innocents who lose their lives in the course of developing the plot. Be careful what you say, and why you say it.


7 thoughts on “Righteous or Self-Righteous?

  1. I always get a chuckle out of the pious that quote what would make the Lord angry. My question is this: How do they know? How do they know that God will not like me looking at Mel Gibson’s butt if I was so inclined? There is nothing immoral of appreciating the finer things that the Lord has created. I am married so if I was coveting his butt that would be a whole other issue. We are not talking Playboy here.

    As for the man (I don’t think I can call him a Pastor) in Florida. It is my belief that the sun has fried the brains of many individuals who live there. It appears to me that this man should be brought up on some sort of charges either by the Haig for International Crimes or by his religious sect if they have a chain of command.

    As for “celebrating” Easter. It is a transition through the Holy Week from the Palms of Palm Sunday being waved in church to the Sadness of remembering Christ dying on the cross to the joy of Ressurection Sunday when we are reminded that He rises from the dead. I personally look forward to the Easter Ham Dinner and the joy of being with my family. Whatever you want to call the particular day (apparently society has chosen Easter) I still think it is a day to find joy and maybe a chocolate candy or two.

    • Sometimes prudery is mistaken for godliness! I spent a year in studio art classes back in university – I rather quickly got over any prudishness. The naked body is not necessarily salacious. I saw nothing wrong with this young man watching a stirring portrayal of noble heroism. It might inspire him to be strong in his convictions, and not shirk manliness. As I said, I doubt if it would inspire him to start killing enemies with a broadsword.

  2. Magdalena,

    Its an easy distinction…

    Righteous – Striving in all areas to live up to the call of Christ in every part of our lives and obey (Listen and respond intentionally) God’s directives in Scripture that, at their heart, from Covering to feeding the poor, hinge solely upon relationship –

    our relationship with God, our fellows, God’s creation, and ourselves. If we lose sight of this, we all may as well pack up and go home. The ‘Narrow way’ is all about focusing solely upon the Cross and the Crown, and running the race set before us, neither being distracted to the left or right.
    Righteousness is uprightness, right word, action and thought, founded upon relationship. Righteousness is taking into the marrow of our bones the call ‘be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect’…Now remember, this DOES NOT mean without sin, without error…

    the root for the word that has been given to us in English bibles as ‘perfect’ actually means be ‘grown up’ and ‘mature’ – to possess faith that is grown up and mature, which manifests itself in actions, behaviours and outliving that is grown up and mature. This is righteousness.

    Now, self-righteousness is the possession of grandiose self-delusion…

    Tragically, the post-modern Christian falls into the trap of confusing my first lengthy definition with the second I have provided – seeing genuine righteousness as self-righteousness. They forget that inward realities will manifest themselves in outward behaviours (the true definition of a sacrimental action(.

    the Christian possessing immature faith is slave to the peer-group all too often lacking the ability to think for themself, making the same mistake as so many; this is not a judgement, simply an observation. its up to the individual whether they wish to break free of the enslaving chains that bind them – chains of materialism, consumerism, the two sides of the same coin that encompasses socialism on the one side and capitalism on the other… to fill the space that is to be filled by the things of God with the fripperies of pop culture that are as the flower of the field – here today and gone tomorrow… celebrity, false glammor, the pulp media…it offers nothing from which can be gained a healthy, well-rounded, God-inspired life that nourishes action, word and thought. That’s my two cents’ worth…


    • Young Christians – baby Christians – want to be heroes. They want to save the heathen horde, stand tall against heresy, be bishops before they are even acolytes. They rather quickly fall into that grandiosity. Oh, yes, humility is still a Christian virtue! I can stand a certain amount of self-righteous lecturing by those who are still wet with their baptism – but then they themselves start veering off into heretical territory – and sometimes they just need to Be Told, as New Brunswickers say. (And then, my bishop thinks that of me, I believe.)

  3. Amen to what you say, Magdalena. A loud AMEN. The nastiness, bigotry and prejudice on Facebook, plus the incautious, tasteless and cruel remarks and unchristian attitudes among folk who should know better, finally got to me so badly I closed my account there. There are beautiful people I am very sorry to lose touch with, but in the main I miss it like I’d miss a hole in the head.

    • I wondered where you went! There are times I am tempted to just close my account, but it is my main ministry right now, and I know that God calls me to keep doing it, but there are days it takes all my pastoral training and wisdom to bide with it. Setting boundaries and standards, and calling others to keep those standards and honour those boundaries, is part of the ministry. There is an easy arrogance in many young Christians. They do not respect eldering, and think every quickening heartbeat and romantic thought is a direct call to them from God. They have not learned to test these notions of theirs against the wisdom of other Christians, nor against tradition, nor even against the truth of scripture, except as it suits them.

  4. Magdalena,

    Please delete any incomplete comment that comes through; I think i sent something by accident a moment ago in response to your own observations…

    I couldn’t help but find myself offering a sad smile in response to your own experiences re new Christians. I’ve witnessed this, especially in those entering Christianity through the Evangelical and SDA folds (the latter trying to convince their family they must drop ‘sunday keeping’ etc)…

    There is a very apt phrase coined by converts to Islam;


    Its symptoms include everything you’ve mentioned… I also see this in new coverers who join the headcovering fora that I belong to from time to time…

    if I am ever a teacher of new Christians, I’ll devote a class to recognizing, remedying and helping folk avoid succumbing to ‘Convertitis’…

    Keep up your wonderful ministry!!



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