In a recent post, I mused that the chief Christian contribution to a hypocritical and deceitful worldly politics might be the witness of truthfulness and transparency. In a typically luminous column for First Things On the Square, Peter Leithart writes of the political message of Advent, the promise that in the second coming, the transparency which seems to elude all our social and political endeavors now will at last be a reality:
There is a city that fulfills Augustine’s dream of social life, but it’s not an earthly city, not the city of man. In the life to come, everything will become transparent to the Creator, and as a result, opacity will give way to complete transparency: “The thoughts of each of us will then also be manifest to all.” When God removes his veil, we will peer into the souls of others. When we are purged of sin, we will freely share the good within. Only in the city where we see God face-to-face will we have faces to face each other.
By virtue of Christ’s first advent, though, we have a foretaste of this politics of truth in the Church, a politics that we are called to live out and witness the possibility of, however imperfectly:
Sins are not to be concealed but confessed, and Christians are commanded to meet open confession with open forgiveness. “You are the light of the world,” Jesus told his disciples, a light shining out but also a light that, supplied by the oil of the Spirit, illuminates the corners and dark corridors within.
Within the church are faint glimmers of a society that might meet with Augustine’s approval. Within the church we find the imperfectly realized possibility of a politics of two Advents.