Understanding the state of things where people are involved is a very tricky business. That is an eternal truth and a global truth!
For Christians there is the added challenge of understanding who we are as Christian people, who we are in the midst of the society in which God has planted us, and what, if any, is the role we might play in the transformation of that society, or, indeed, ourselves as God's people.(An alternative being that we apathetically leave all change in the hands of God, or, only engage with the possibility of change via a strict life of active prayer and non-engagement with any other activism).
Into such musing we might read Ross Douthat (H/T Bowman Walton) who is a remarkable NYT columnist, never not worth reading!
This column focuses on American Catholicism and the Vatican's understanding of it. But it is not rocket science to make a translation into the Australian and New Zealand Down Under contexts. Especially in this week of the remarkable phenomenon of religion creeping into our Kiwi politics ... I refer to the various scapegoats roundabouts and to the extraordinary exercise in hagiography which our media embarked on when the Labour Party elected a new leader on Tuesday!
Thus Ross Douthat warns us to sharpen our thinking, to accurately discern the signs of the times and to do our research so that we can speak truthfully about the state of things where people are involved.