It takes emotional maturity, intellectual honesty, and spiritual dexterity to balance issues as seemingly far removed from one another as profanity in the media, Supreme Court cases, and eternity. Any yet one man appears to be doing just fine as he juggles them all in that brilliant mind which God has given him.
New York magazine has published an intriguing interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. And it just goes to show once again that faith and common sense are not opposed to each other. You can obviously be an intelligent and compassionate human being, while also holding to a strong belief in the hereafter.
"Everyone is going to one place or the other," said Scalia, in reference to heaven and hell.
Now stop and think about that statement for a moment. When was the last time you heard someone in his position make such a bold declaration about the only thing that will matter to any of us 100 years from now. Talk about foresight. This man gets it. He knows that when America is no more, each one of us will still be in existence. For real.
At the same time, his feet are planted firmly on the ground right here on earth. And he sees what has happened to manners in America. He said, "One of the things that upsets me about modern society is the coarseness of manners." Hmm. He gets eternity, and he gets manners. What a guy. If only there were more like him.
Just think how different America would be without profanity, and name calling, and hatred. And just think how full heaven would be, and how empty hell would be, if everyone would humbly kneel at the foot of Christ's cross. If only everyone would repent of his sin and believe in the Savior, what a joyous eternity we would share with one another.
But back to the world as it really is today. It is a world described by Scalia where we see "the constant use of the F-word - including, you know, ladies using it." This is what America has become, at least in some respects.
But another world is just around the corner. And up there, not a single swear word will ever be used. And way down below, it's hard to say what words will be used there. But here in the middle right now, in this realm between heaven and hell, we have a little bit of everything going on. This odd mix even includes a Supreme Court Justice who said in his interview that atheism "favors the devil's desires." Talk about out of step with many of those in positions of power today.
Come to think of it, there was a Man who was way out of step with the world He entered. He came from heaven and talked about eternity, as well as that other topic which Scalia addressed: you know, the devil.
When his interviewer, Jennifer Senior, seemed surprised that Scalia actually believes the devil exists, he responded, "You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the devil! Most of mankind has believed in the devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the devil."
All this talk about God and the devil and eternity. It could cause a person to become downright spiritual if he's not careful. Antonin Scalia is in many ways a throwback to an earlier time in America. It was a time when talking about God and eternity was commonplace virtually everywhere in society. Today when somebody mentions their belief in a literal God and devil, you would think that someone shouted out the F-word.
Maybe that's it. Maybe our bad manners in America really do point to a deeper issue. And to a reality that transcends our current existence. Come to think of it, Satan probably said the first curse word. It might have even been spoken the moment he got kicked out of heaven for his miserable attitude and his bad manners. (see Luke 10:17)
I guess it's OK to dream of a day when young people in America will once again witness adults practicing good manners. And I know it's still a good thing to pray for a day when many of our fellow Americans would come to believe in God and eternity the way Justice Scalia believes in them.
Scalia is a devout Catholic. But when asked if you have to be a Catholic to get into heaven, he answered, "Of course not!"
Chalk up one more point of wisdom for this man whose mind is able to juggle manners, Supreme Court cases, and eternity. When we step back for a second and look at the big picture, I suppose those things are not as unrelated as people might at first imagine.