Monday, April 15, 2013

The Difference Between A Martyr And A Martyr Complex

Andrew Sullivan quotes a Marilynne Robinson essay to illustrate the heart of true martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
The day after the failure of the attempt to assassinate Hitler, in which he and his brother and two of his brothers-in-law were deeply involved, Bonhoeffer wrote a letter to [Eberhard] Bethge about “the profound this-worldliness of Christianity.” He said, “By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world — watching with Christ in Gethsemane. … How can success make us arrogant, or failure lead us astray when we share in God’s suffering through a life of this kind?” These would seem to be words of consolation, from himself as pastor to himself as prisoner. But they are also an argument from the authority of one narrative moment. The painful world must be embraced altogether, because Christ went to Gethsemane.
Via Steve Benen, one discovers that Family Research Council president Tony Perkins possesses both a weird paranoia and a frightening martyr complex. Talking about the Senate plan to institute background checks, Perkins states,

"I'm very concerned about this measure; I am concerned about where it may go once it gets to the Senate floor and what might happen in the House. This idea of background checks is very concerning given the fact that the United States military has been increasingly showing hostility toward evangelicals and Catholics as being somehow threats to national security and people that need to be watched.
"Well, what does that have to do with gun control? Well, what happens if all the sudden you are identified as an evangelical, bible-believing fundamentalist and the government decides you've got to be put on a watch list? Part of the provisions of this background check is kind of a system where if a caution comes up when they put your name in, you don't get a chance to buy a gun."
Bonhoeffer warned Christians about the dangers of cheap grace, a threat to an authentic faith that one must daily struggle to overcome. Perkins cheapens grace with cheap talk


Troy Jones said...

I disagree with you here. Disagree with Perkins. But, this is not martyr complex.

Constitutional Rights are Rights available for all. The mere mention of lists is an eroding of rights. Bonhoffer was one who understood this. Remember his quote "first they came for . . . then they came for me."

Kal Lis said...

Like I said on other comment, not feeling well.

The Perkins statement strikes me as being paranoid. I agree that lists etc. threaten rights. Still the assertion about the military seems way out there