Thursday, April 9, 2009

Watch Your Toes

I'll say it again because I'm not sure anyone heard me the first time. Because of which I'm afraid I cannot be quite as diplomatic as previously; so watch your toes.

Regardless of who you voted for, we have a new President, poised in the highest office in the land. This office and the person occupying it ought to have our unwavering respect. If the leader of our nation fails us with scandal or betrayal or incompetence, he or she has perhaps forfeit much of our respect, but there is a level of common decency that should never wane -- a human level if nothing else.

Regardless of who you voted for, January 20, 2009 was a fine day, not only because we elected the first non-white to the Oval Office, but for many reasons. I'm amazed that anyone is able to deny the positives. I suppose it's less a matter of denial and more an issue weight. I suppose many of my readers believe President Obama's liabilities outweigh his potential contributions. Well, either way, I believe it is crucial to our humanity, and thereby crucial to our Christianity, to take moral high ground, to affirm the good, more than that, to look for it! Jesus said, "Seek and you shall find." And it's true. Seek the negative in a person or a situation and you will find it.

I'm tired of hearing well-meaning people from my beloved state (and I mean that; I'm not being sarcastic) bash or belittle our President in one breath and in the very next breath attempt to present the gospel of of our Lord Jesus. I'm tired of hearing negative commentary about our President every time I turn around and never (I wish I were exaggerating) hearing anything truly positive. If I do hear someone I know say something positive, it's delivered in such a back-handed way, it's worthless. Let's be honest with ourselves. If President Bush had made that comment about the Special Olympics, which we all know isn't hard to imagine, we'd be defending him: "Oh, well, he shouldn't have said that, but..." But because it slipped from the lips of a democrat -- and we're sore losers (republicans and democrats alike) -- we're indignant: "I can't believe... blah, blah, blah." As if we all don't make light-handed comments about the short bus, etc. And I don't hear anyone give respect for President Obama's quickness to apologize. We like that about Senator McCain, but ignore it in Mr. Obama. We are hypocrites. Everything President Obama does is disgusting to us because he's overturned policy on abortion and stem-cell research, policy which I think is less black and white then we wish it were. I know people who refuse to even hear him speak. I know others who listen to his addresses only with ears perked up to pick on and put down the President and his administration.

I'm sick of it.

I will reissue my challenge. Let us avoid the temptation to attatch ourselves to each and every small opportunity to boast childishly, "I told you so!" Let us not be people who delight only in pouncing upon the shortcomings of another so that we can proudly declare our right-ness, wearing our superiority like a badge of consolation. How petty. I don't care if you think the honeymoon phase we're in right now with our new President is annoying. What kind of bitter old, love-less bachelor/spinster/married couple goes around vehemently tearing down and grounding newlyweds? So what if everyone is infatuated with Mr. Obama? If it really is something that will pass and wear off, let it pass and wear off. On the other hand, I'm not saying some of the inordinate infatuation ought not be tempered, but it should be done gently and lovingly, with generosity and perhaps even with a good dose of good-natured humor, not biting sarcasm. Our present attitude is one that shouts, "We won't be caught in the snare of his charm; we're not going to risk being made fools of! No. We are smarter than that." It's an attitude that whispers, "Everyone else is stupid."

Nay! Rather let us be first to seek out the good and acclaim it! not to disregard or ignore negatives and shortcomings and wrongs and mistakes, but to keep balanced perspective. We would certainly be a better witness to a world that expects so little of us based on the bitter bile we normally spew. Let's surprise them. They expect us to seek out the negatives. Let's raise their eyebrows, turn their heads, and peak their interest by making use of the bridges of Common Grace which already exist rather than burning them down. And let's take humble, patient, loving responsibility toward one another by encouraging others in the Body to do the same. Let's be the change.

14 comments:

Jenny said...

wow, renea, we definitely live in different parts of the country... want to join me in seattle?! ;)

John said...

You're awesome. This post is amazing.

Joshua said...

thought you might find this interesting

Kara said...

Here! Here! Well said my friend. I don't even know what remark Pres. Obama made that was referred to, but I agree with the premise of your thoughts! Thanks for having the courage to share. :-) I only wish you had added that we as believers should instead be lifting up our President in prayer constantly...(I know I need the reminder), seeing as how he probably has the hardest job in the world... and he is still a man, fallible and in need of grace from God Almighty, Who, "...Sets up kings and kingdoms".

renea mac said...

Jenny, I DO need to find a time to come see you! Perhaps over the summer when Texans migrate north to escape the heat.

Joshua, I did find that interesting; thank you for putting me on to it.

John and Kara, thanks for the love. And Kara, thanks for the reminder! Praying for someone -- that communion with God's spirit -- is a fool-proof way to generally avoid being an ass toward that person and to remember to repent when we are.

Joshua said...

I realize I sent you the general blog, I meant to send only the post "sensationalism" in case you didn't catch the Obama relevance. I'm sure you did, but just in case.

renea mac said...

Yes; thanks again, Joshua. I completely agree with Bobby, on all three points, in fact. :) What I think I appreciate most about his post is his even-handedness and generosity.

Joshua said...

"Redistribution of wealth: It's in the Bible!"

Sam said...

Yes, Joshua, but notice the personal choice aspect in Acts. I don't know if that compares well to a government-imposed redistribution of wealth. Furthermore, there is an underlying presupposition (and straw-man) here that conservatives don't actually think "sharing" is good. Of course, this is not true.

renea mac said...

True Sam, but we are a Republic. Technically, we did choose. But the point is, I think, that we ought to be making more choices which reflect our biblical model.

Why even bother making such a fuss about protecting the unborn living when we make little to no fuss (particularly politically) about the quality of life of those already brought into this suffering existence?

The notion that political conservatives (a demographic made up mostly of the middle class and up) merely wish to store up (Lk 12:13-34) wealth in an each-man-for-himself fashion isn't too hard to come by.

Now, perhaps nation-wide redistribution of wealth isn't the best path toward defending and protecting the poor, but without an alternative movement, that argument is meaningless.

Sam said...

Here's what I know: The "poor" in this country (a capitalist nation) are far better off than the poor in socialist/communist/statist nations (e.g. Venezuela, China, North Korea, etc., etc.). And, once again, I don't think a government-imposed redistribution of wealth reflects a biblical model. There is nothing praiseworthy about forceable taxation, especially when our government is incapable of truly taking care of people with our taxes (see Katrina). The federal government has ruined countless lower-class families, by perpetuating their status and dependency with ever-failing (and ever-growing) social programs.

And I disagree about your pro-life point. I do believe it to be a very black and white issue (this is probably the only statement in your entire post that I disagreed with).

You are correct to say that political conservatives primarily make up the middle and upper class. Of course, this perfectly correlates with my earlier point about the Left holding hostage this nation's lower class.

Finally, the way you described the politically conservative would probably be more an accurate description of the average American (regardless of political leanings). I must add that studies have shown that the more politically conservative parts of our nation are more giving of their time and money toward helping people in need than the politically liberal parts of our nation. Why is that? The politically liberal (often) believe that the needs of the lower class is the government's problem (which is perfectly consistent with their worldview); whereas the politically conservative view such hardships as a personal problem, only solved with a personal solution. Because who else will do it well? The government?! (All conservatives unite in laughter.)

By the way, this is our alternative movement.

Finally, and truly, Christians must must must be the ones to stand up to help and defend the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the oppressed. This is the calling and the command of the New Testament Church.

I will stop the ranting now. I may be taking the "Speak What We Feel" title a bit too literally (sorry if I am). By the way, Renea, I have enjoyed your blog posts. I plan on becoming a "follower" as soon as I can figure out how to do that. ;)

renea mac said...

Wow, Sam, thanks. No, you're not over-stepping your bounds; that's what SWWF is about, respectful, open conversation. And I appreciate our dialogue; it's sharpening.

You're right about my description of what some conservatives are like; in fact, I had that very same thought when I re-read what I wrote after posting it. And it's unfair to paint all conservatives in the radiation glow of the loudest ones. I hope it didn't seem as though that was my intention. I simply was noting it's a problem.

You make a good point about the non-political movement by religious folk. [Side note: Is it fair to say this is true generally of both politically liberal and conservative folk who are religious? Also, I wonder if the scales are evening out a bit with the large humanitarian efforts of the 20-30-somethings: who, often don't consider themselves affiliated with either political party. I wonder what those studies will look like as our demographics continue to shift. Right now, the 20s and 30s don't generally have the kind of money that the 40s and up have, nor the numbers. Just speculating.]

However, isn't there something we could/should be doing politically? Like I hinted at earlier, perhaps on a policy level, something completely new that gets us away from Wellfare and gov-imposed distribution of wealth... I used the passage in Luke because Jesus both denounces the greed of the younger brother who wanted equal distribution of funds (12:13-15) and an each-man-for-himself, "My money, my God, my guns" form of greed (32-34).

Finally, I didn't mean to suggest in my original post that the right to choose arbitrarily isn't black and white; it certainly is. However, it was my understanding of that the policy which was overturned provided that money would no longer be denied to hospitals and clinics that perform abortions, not simply abortion clinics, and that there's still a bill in effect which prohibits tax dollars from funding abortions. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1873794,00.html?imw=Y

Thanks again, Sam. (I think you can become a follower at the bottom of the homepage :) See you at the book release!

Sam said...

You definitely make a good point about the generational change. 20-30- somethings do seem to be more actively involved in humanitarian efforts than (perhaps) ever before in this country.

As far as actual political/policy shifts, I wish the government would encourage (through incentives and a "re-education" of its citizens) that private companies, churches, and charities be the provider of services on the local level, to help meet the needs of the most poor among us. This, of course, is already done on an unprecedented level compared to other countries. Nevertheless, I think this is the best way to move people OUT OF the pit that so many find themselves in. Government programs should not be judged for their intentions - they should be judged by their results. This little distinction is why private industry is (almost) always superior to the public sector. I'm definitely not meaning to throw all government social programs under the bus. Generally speaking, I just think private charities and churches do much better work with better "results," and (according to a poll I heard a few months ago) 80% of the country believes the same thing.

I may be too idealistic, but I would love to see the day when a natural disaster comes (such as Katrina), and our thought is not to ask, "Where is my government?", but rather, "Where is my neighbor?"

I must admit that I do believe that the government should be the ultimate "safety net" for people who have nowhere else to turn (although I have a little trouble picturing such a scenario). I'm sure you would agree that enabling people in a bad situation is not "giving" or "caring" or "loving" - it's actually harmful. But this is what the government does, because what else CAN the largest bureaucracy in the history of the world do? It definitely can't (ultimately) meet someone on a personal level.

One of my favorite quotes is, “We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other" (John Adams). I think this is why the "American Experiment" has worked so well for so long. However, I do fear we have walked away from this and might never return. And I don't blame President Obama for this - I blame the modern politician. Good discussion.

Joshua said...

Sam,

God is not a capitalist or a socialist, and I think a Christian understanding undermines and subverts the working prepositions and methodologies of both. Agreed, the Acts example is non-coercive from a governmental viewpoint and that distinction undermines it as a blanket precedence. As you suggest, the Conservatives I've met are far more generous than liberals, so I'm completely with you on that. Even the NYT is saying such.

So I think you are wrong if you are assuming that I'm personally operating from this straw man, and the author said nothing of the sort either, to which your articulation is perhaps a mere... caricature?

You're reading too much into the author's view if you can possibly delineate his working prepositions, he was merely commenting that this politicized demonstration was hardly reflecting a Christian viewpoint on either wealth or morality. I believe the analytical term for the polarized discourse in our nation is a false bifurcation?