Archive for March 28th, 2023

Cultural Tornado

Written by Roger Sappington, a contemporary author. This is an excerpt from his book “30 days in Exile: Living for Christ with Courage and Expectancy in the West.”

Today, many Christians in America feel as though they have been dropped via a cultural tornado into some strange, chaotic Oz. The place they call home just doesn’t feel familiar anymore…Truth is now subjective or irrelevant. Sexual ethics are Corinthian at best. Civility and decorum in broader public life (and especially in electoral politics) have been thrown by the wayside. Racial tensions appear to be continually on the rise. Religious liberty is in jeopardy. Though many would like to find a pair of ruby red slippers to make their way back to a more comfortable place, that is impossible …  “Kansas” was never as utopic as we remember it. That is not to say that one period may not have been more influenced by Christianity than another, it is simply to point out that in every era since the rebellion in the Garden, idolatry of some kind has held sway over every culture and every nation. This is why the New Testament regularly uses the metaphor of exile to describe the experience of God’s people. This place was never meant to be our home or feel like our home. As the writer of Hebrews wrote of the great men and women of the faith, “they acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”. This world was foreign and unfamiliar to them. The word “exile” in the Greek means resident alien—a person who lives in one nation but holds citizenship elsewhere. And that is true of every Christian; though we happen to live in some nation on earth, our citizenship is in the kingdom of heaven. As Christians in America, we have always been resident aliens. It is just that in recent days that fact has become more and more clear. I know many of you feel discouraged by what you see happening within our culture and how that is affecting people in our churches. Though I, too, am concerned by what I see, I am also hopeful because the Lord continues to remind me of two things. First, he has been bringing to memory some of the historical periods of the Church that were also characterized by hostility from the broader culture. The first three centuries of the Church in the Roman Empire were absolutely representative of this. During that time, the Lord not only sustained his people, but “grew their number and, ultimately, their influence.” Second, the Lord continues to point me to truth from Scripture that settles my anxious heart. Maybe Jesus’ words to Peter are most relevant: “on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Regardless of how bad things get, the Church will not only endure, it will prevail.


Written by Mary Lou Kownacki (1942-2023), a Benedictine peace activist and author.

Thank you, Lord, for how you revealed truth about yourself to the people of Athens even through their pagan myths, helping to prepare their hearts for the true Gospel that would be preached to them by Paul. Thank you for Paul’s gentleness in preaching the good news of Jesus in a secular setting, and for his example of getting to know something about the secular culture to which he was bearing witness of the truth. Help me to learn from Paul’s example. Give me a deeper understanding of those around me that will enable me to build bridges rather than walls. Amen.

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