A MUST READ: American Babylon. Notes of a Christian Exile

neuhaus.jpgFather Richard John Neuhaus has left us a remarkable book. Looking through it to prepare a review, I saw that I had highlighted almost the entire book!

To whet your appetite, let me quote  the conclusion at length, so that you might hurry off to get a copy

“Through the preceding chapters, these notes from exile have addressed various tasks of hope while living in Babylon. The life of faith has been depicted as a prolepsis of the promised New Jerusalem, the City of God in final tranquility. We examined the distinctively American understandings of life in exile, and the distinctively American ways of deluding ourselves that we have arrived home already. We celebrated progress, and we noted its sobering limits in the realm of morality.

“We tried to engage the atheists among our fellow-exiles in this foreign city whose provisional peace we together seek. And also those who, like Richard Rorty, would distance themselves from hope’s grief by means of liberal irony. In “Salvation Is from the Jews,” we underscored the ways in which our pilgrim path and “the story of the world” are uniquely and inextricably entangled with the people of Israel. Then we explored the politics by which we alien citizens can ameliorate some wrongs and advance a provisional measure of the common good, even in Babylon. Finally, in this last chapter, we considered the impossibility of hopelessness and why it is that to live is to live in hope….

“As Christians and as Americans, in this our awkward duality of citizenship, we seek to be faithful in a time not of our choosing but of our testing. We resist the hubris of presuming that it is the definitive time and place of historical promise or tragedy, but it is our time and place. It is a time of many times: a time for dancing, even if to the songs of Zion in a foreign land; a time for walking together, unintimidated when we seem to be a small and beleaguered band; a time for rejoicing in momentary triumphs, and for defiance in momentary defeats; a time for persistence in reasoned argument, never tiring in proposing to the world a more excellent way; a time for generosity toward those who would make us their enemy; and, finally, a time for happy surrender to brother death—but not before, through our laughter and tears, we see and hail from afar the New Jerusalem and know that it is all time toward home.”

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