I haven’t preached or written on the new phase of the migrant crisis, the separation of children from families, mostly because there are so many people who are expressing their moral outrage so eloquently.
People are arguing from Biblical texts, from religious tradition, from American values, from simple human decency, from the very fact that the Holy Family were refugees and immigrants, to express the deep sin and shame of the United States of America taking children from their parents and warehousing and imprisoning them.
It doesn’t seem as though I could add much to the discussion.
But there comes a point in time where silence is taken as consent, and failure to speak is collusion with sin.
And so I asked myself, as so many have, “How did we get here? How did America, a nation I was raised to believe in and be proud to belong to, stoop to this level of racism, xenophobia, and toxic militarism?”
And for me, the answer comes back as it almost always does, to a deep and debilitating lack of spiritual groundedness.
Values and ethics cannot survive on the thin sustenance of stirring emotions or even cultural traditions.
To be effective, to withstand controversy and trial, to guide people to actions that are just and altruistic, values and ethics must be based on something deeper.
And that something deeper is the spiritual life.
It doesn’t matter what tradition that spiritual life comes out of—Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or any other.
It simply matters that there is a worldview greater than the paltry ends of the individual self, that calls us to something higher than selfish and short-sighted tribalism, and that awakens the soul, that dwelling place of God within us that lies deeper than mind or even heart.
But as I continued to reflect on our spiritually starving people, I realized that the most damaging part of the lack of soul life in America is unspoken and unrealized.
Americans cannot deal with death. Continue reading