Quindlen, Schiavo, the temptations of Christ, and the path to the right answer….

Anna Quindlen’s column in the current Newsweek provides a thoughtful reflection on the Schiavo case and what it really means for us (past the fake wailing and gnashing of teeth from certain politicans, that is). She says, in part:

There are many ways in which this case has been divvied up in public. Spouse vs. parents. Liberals vs. conservatives. Secular vs. religious. But it is truly about that thing that defines free human beings: the right to self-determination instead of a one-size-fits-all approach in private matters, in those issues that take place in bedrooms and kitchens and hospices. It’s a primal demand for a personal sense of control in the face of intrusive government, intrusive medicine and intrusive strangers who think holding a crucifix like a blunt instrument makes them righteous when it really only makes them sanctimonious.

Right, that. As a public service, lullaby pit today offers up (direct from Dictionary.com) the definitions of those two key words for those among our readership who are laboring beneath the heavy burdens of omniscience and moral perfection.

right·eous adj.

1. Morally upright; without guilt or sin: a righteous parishioner.

2. In accordance with virtue or morality: a righteous judgment.

3. Morally justifiable: righteous anger.

sanc·ti·mo·ni·ous adj.

1. Feigning piety or righteousness: “a solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious
old iceberg that looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity”
(Mark Twain).

2. Excessively or hypocritically pious; “a sickening sanctimonious
smile” [syn: holier-than-thou, pietistic, pietistical, pharisaic, pharisaical, self-righteous]

The Bible tells us in Luke 4 that Satan tempted Christ and that Christ resisted. If you look at this story closely, you’ll see that the most sinister element of the Devil’s temptation was the ease of the resolution. Jesus was being tempted by simple answers, by instant gratification. Even knowing how impossibly hard the road ahead of him was, though, Jesus chose the torturous path to the best solution instead of the easy road of expedience.

Much of what’s wrong with America today can be boiled down the fact that way too many of those who profess to follow the teachings of Christ are unwilling to endure a little hard work in the pursuit of the right path. There’s a silver-tongued charlatan around every corner selling instant salvation out of the trunk of his car. “It’s just so simple.” “All you have to do.” Getting into Heaven, it seems, is easier than buying bottom land in the Everglades or a bridge in Brooklyn. It’s easier than fixing bad credit. Of course, as so many have learned the hard way, those quick fixes are never quite as rewarding as they sound on TV.

What Would Jesus Do, anyway? Apparently he’d look for the first easy out he could find – and Satan had some simple answers, didn’t he?

I’m not a Christian, but I do have a prayer this morning for those who are: may those of you facing challenges, hardship, and crises in your life find the courage to bypass the temptation of the simple answer and labor on, as Jesus did, on the path toward the real answer.

[THX: Bella Ragazza.]



  1. Schiavo
    There are few Christians who understand the responsibility of being one. It is not about being responsible for your brother, but rather being responsible for yourself. The ego would have us believe that we are to be in control, but it is the letting go that gives power. Our opinions are like the grains of sand. They blow and mix up and blow into oblivion. No single one of value, but the sum total can fill in and spill over, smothering and covering up. Our opinions are neither lasting or of importance. Our integrity or lack of it leaves footprints in the heart. Only the light of the heart impacts and goes on.

  2. Much of what’s wrong with America today can be boiled down the fact that way too many of those who profess to follow the teachings of Christ are unwilling to endure a little hard work in the pursuit of the right path.
    Bertrand Russell once said, “For every complex, difficult problem, there is a simple, easy solution … and it’s the wrong solution.
    It’s always the wrong solution.

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