In the Christian tradition, because the world is created by God and is very good, it has the capacity to make God’s invisible goodness visible. Nature, therefore, is sacramental. The Christian story also recounts how humankind is created in God’s image, a being uniquely aware of itself. As a result, Christians are charged in a special way to embody God’s love. Sacramentality is a responsibility, not a privilege. This is complicated by the fact that humankind lives in the history of sin and often fails to reflect God’s love, taking away from the goodness of creation instead.
Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh describes a similar sacramental phenomenon partly contained in Tiep Hien, which can be described as “realizing” or making our convictions real in the world. We do not dwell or remain bound to the place of doctrines and ideas, instead we embody them, bringing them into lived experience.
Our democracy is similarly charged with being “sacramental.” It was founded upon certain truths, among them the principles of freedom, equality and opportunity. These principles, however, lack meaning unless they are embodied or made present in the real world. The founding fathers, knowing that the members of our democracy would struggle with realizing its ideals, fashioned structures and prompts that would curb our propensity toward tyranny. Slavery, for example, not only failed to make present our nation’s enlightened principles, it brought about their opposite: oppression. Only when we set out to secure freedom, equality and opportunity for blacks through amendment and legislation, was our nation once again acting sacramentally, making visible our nation’s goodness, however imperfectly.
Unfortunately, we regularly fail to live up to our self-proclaimed democratic responsibility.
The Kirwan Institute
My job is to serve the Flying Spaghetti Monster-inspired principle that all humans have six toes.
The world is now divided into two groups: those with six toes, and those who are the anti-six-toe.
So I pick those that have six toes and write off the rest.
As a result, my belief in six-toed divinity is confirmed not challenged.
In the same way, democracy sees itself as proof of its own worth, yet it fails every time.