Posted by: minnow | November 5, 2008

Words

Is it any wonder that the Word of God is also called His sword?

  The following is somewhat of an unusual post. It is basically my response to comments directed at me on the Parchment and Pen blog. I asked the writer (BritPhil) if I could use his comments in this post, explaining that I felt like I was hijacking the P&P comments because I was taking CMP’s post in a direction the author did not intend and needed to bow out. At the same time, I did not really want to drop the discussion. Thus I brought it here.

Our discussion centered around the manner in which those making comment both talk to one another and talk about the topic/subject at hand.  Perhaps because of the on going political debate in my country I am more sensitive than I might otherwise be to how ugly we can be to one another.  I have wrestled with a sparring tendency in my own dialogue most of my life and at times have been know for a sharp, unkind tongue–not a reputation I am proud of having.  But with no further delay–

BritPhil wrote (in part responding to my accusing him of sounding a bit peturbed:

“However, what perturbed me most was when someone else (in this instance, Barack Obama) is being attacked in the strongest terms and in the most abusive and vilest ways possible. What disappointed me more than most was that apart from one person…nobody mailed in to challenge the tone of the language. Silence in the light of such abusive language often signifies tacit approval in my book. I have to say Minnow, that I did think that you would be one of the people who would have commented but sadly that was not the case. Just because you do not wish to vote for him does not mean you cannot defend him when abused in such a way does it?”

I must admit that my self-righteous indignation was pricked by Brit’s comment and I found myself wanting to put on the boxing gloves in self defense which is usually a good sign I should look in the mirror.  As a result of Brit’s comment I reviewed the discussion going on over at P&P and made an additional comment.  However, I am weary of the ugliness of some of our political discourse and am choosing more and more to avoid rather than engage in that aspect of political debate.  Perhaps it is telling of the degree to which our discourse has sunk that I actually did not find the questionable commentary that bad. Humm…

Brit also called me on the carpet for generalizing and exaggerating quoting me: My problem with Obama (and democrats in general) is that he seems to think more government can solve all our problems. and then saying, “…It does annoy me when generalizations are made in order to exaggerate a point, and it happens all too often I am afraid.” (He attributed such a tendency to Republicans more than Democrats.  The jury is still out on that one in my book).

My answer to the implication is: I am guilty as charged as far as generalizing. However, my motive is not hyperbole nor am I trying to make a more powerful case by exaggerating. Rather my usual thinking (at the time anyway) is that I am hitting the center or core or majority as opposed to the exception to the rule. With regard to Senator Obama, his record in the US Senate is one of the most liberal (and his choice of a vice-president is equally left of center). His proposals during this campaign have focused on creating more programs and increasing the funding for existing programs. Case in point: “No Child Left Behind left the federal money behind” so the Senator’s plan is to fund it. In my opinion, the lack of funding is hardly the only thing (or the major thing) wrong with NCLB. Additionally, he plans to increase funding for early education and guarantee a college education to anyone who can maintain a B average. I am truly waiting for the president elect to get creative with his problem solving. My perception to date is that his solutions are expensive but not necessarily new. Indeed, I personally would have liked to see him prove himself capable of new ideas and creative solutions in the senate, rather than the White House, an opinion not shared by the majority of Americans.

The conversation shifted some because I began to talk about the responsibility of the Church toward the poor, marginalized, fringe, “least of these”.  BritPhil responded, “I guess you are most disappointed with your own constituency which I admire you for.”

Yes and no. I am disappointed with my constituency however in the P&P comments I meant to talk from a historical POV. I think our (the big C Church’s) history, at least since the Great Depression, is that the Church in general has backed away from its responsibility.  Only in the last few years have I noticed an awakening of any significance within the Church (At least in the US).  I do not know enough about any one denominational strain to be able to point to a true exception to this broad generalization.

In the original blog I stated that, “It is to OUR shame that any would see Senator Obama (or the government) as savior.”  By this statement I did not mean to imply that BritPhil had ever expressed such an opinion.  That said, I have heard too much from mainstream media, pundits, friends and acquaintances, to believe that suggesting some  look upon Senator Obama as sort of savior is an exaggeration.

My blogging friend from across the pond shared his own convictions about the democratic candidate by saying, “I personally believe that Obama has a deeper level of statesmanship and vision than McCain.  I am, also deeply impressed by the way he and Michelle have handled themselves, not seeing the desperate and pathetic need to go on Saturday Night Live in a desperate bid to get a few more votes!  Not only that, there has been some horrific and slanderous insinuations that have been made and Obama has risen above it all.  He is a man of really strong character, but I do not in any way shape or form view him as a Savior.”

I completely respect BritPhil’s right to his own point of view and believe him to be a thoughtful individual.  I concede that President-elect Obama probably has a broader sense of the world with regard to issues like peace, fair trade, and international relations, then Senator McCain.  At the same time, my own concern is that he sees himself as a leader of the world and if America suffers a little in the process of making things right, well, that is just the price we have to pay in order to live in a better world. This underlying feeling is perhaps what concerns some Americans–those who think our president should be a little more patriotic, a little more “My country right or wrong”.  I have to admit, at times (especial as a Christ follower) I want to jump on the broader worldview bandwagon.  I want Americans, Christian Americans, to open our eyes, to repent of our lusts, to recognize our responsibilities because we have the influence and favor that we do.  In this election I feel as though I have been riding a two headed horse (one head on each end); myself as Christian pulling against myself as (practical) problem-solver.  I think I have, personally, resolved my struggle by deciding I would prefer less governmental fixing and more Jesus following.  Such a stance seems like a much more difficult solution to actually realize. Still, I am stuck with the fact that Jesus did not over throw Rome.  Instead, He changed the world (and His disciples’ world view).

The presidential election in the United states has been decided.  I am relieved that it was not even close (by comparison to other years.  I am blessed to be in a country where difficult decisions can be made with such relative ease.  On a personal note, I actually voted against one candidate I was planning to vote for because this past week I received a piece of literature  put out by her campaign that vilified her opponent in a manner I believe was distorted and unfair.  I doubt my stand will have any actual impact. The only reason I took it was for my own sense of justice.   I do not know what, if anything, is accomplished by confronting those who engage in ugly discourse. When I received a phone call from those working for the candidate I just mentioned I told them I would not be voting for their candidate and why.  They received my comments graciously.  That is probably the best possible response I could have had.  Walking in the face of evil without getting any on you is tricky business.  There are days when I do better than others.

My son went to bed last night saying he was not looking forward to school (public) tomorrow.  My daughter said she was not looking forward to worship  practice.  My heart hurt when I heard those words.  I do not relish sending them out into battle even when their role is medic.  My prayers for president-elect Obama began last night.  I hope yours did as well.

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Responses

  1. Hi Minnowspeaks

    Yes it’s good old Britphil here.

    Thanks for treating my comments so fairly and I am glad they have helped contribute to a thought-provoking debate.

    I fully understand where you are coming from with regard to the uglyness of the political debate, and I truly confess that on occasions I did fall from grace, but I would like to think that if the delivery left something to be desired at times, the intent was good and the motives were genuine.

    “At the same time, my own concern is that he sees himself as a leader of the world and if America suffers a little in the process of making things right, well, that is just the price we have to pay in order to live in a better world. This underlying feeling is perhaps what concerns some Americans–those who think our president should be a little more patriotic, a little more “My country right or wrong”.

    This is where Minnow. we part company slightly. The President of the United States, whether he likes it or not, and this has largely been of the USA’s own creation, is viewed as “the leader of the free world”. I agree that one of the greatest challenges Obama will face will be to keep his eye on the domestic ball while taking his rightful and much needed part on the international stage.

    The difficulty is that in a sense the genie is out of the bag. During a recent trip to Berlin, he addressed a crowd which was of a similar size to the one he addressed in Chicago last night. He is already held in very high esteem here in Europe and in many other places across the world. They are already having a public holiday in Kenya tomorrow to honour his victory! 9

    92 % of Dutch people stated in a recent Reader’s Digest poll that they wanted an Obama Presidency. The only American State that polled a similar vote in favour of Obama yesterday as the tiny area of Washington – District of Columbia!

    Can I also say well done for not voting for the candidate who put out the negative leaflet. The only way of combating such negative campaigning is not to vote for that candidate. The more people that start to do the same as you did, then the more the message will eventually drive home!

    I was deeeply sorry to hear of your childrens’ fears? What was the cause of them do you think if you do not mind me asking? I hope you will be able to help them work through them and that their and your worst fears will not be realised.

    Very best regards

    Phil

  2. Where to begin–Thank you! I guess that is best. Your words have often been a helpful plumb line for me as we have bumped into one another on P&P. Good food for thought.
    The reactions by my children were connected to conversations they have had at school and at Church. Sadly today’s youth are not all more open minded and less prejudice than the generations which preceded them. Hate and ugliness can be intimidating and worse–contagious. My children have reported racist comments from friends that make what we have encountered on recent blogs look quite mild by comparison. I am afraid their mother’s response was less than stellar. My weariness with the Christ-lost Church grows and I too often respond in kind rather than in love. My bad, as my son would say.
    I do understand the role the US president has as a world leader. My prayer is that Obama’s confidence is born out of humility not ego. Time will tell. Even Lincoln is given more credit now then he ever was given in his day.
    BTW–Senator McCain gave a gracious concession speech. I believe he will be more than willing to “get back to work” and continue to reach across the isle.

  3. Minnow, Senator McCain’s concession speech was masterful and deeply humbling.

    By the way, am I right in thinking the comments your children have been on the receiving end of have been comments made by white children to black children, black children to white children or some other form of abuse.

    This is where I plead total ignorance, and it is foolishness I know but I had always thought you were of white Caucasian ethnicity, though I don’t know why that is. I just assumed so. In which case I would imagine your kids might have been on the receiving end of some comments from black kids at school.

    Either way, whether black on white, white on black, or or between inter-ethnic races such comments are always hurtful to receive.

  4. My family is white (so your sense was correct) in a predominantly white community. The largest non-white population is Native American followed closely by Asia (mostly Hmong). As Christians my children have been navigating a public school system that is often hostile toward their POV. Some of the hostility is caused by the way some who call themselves Christians conduct themselves. In other words, these people bring the hostility (toward their self-righteousness) on themselves. My children, like their mother, are tired of Christians who make it more difficult for non-Christians to see Christ. The ugly comments they have heard in school are at times from non-Christians responding to a stereo-type of Christians (or the Bible-thumping versions they more frequently experience) and not directly toward my children. However, just as often the garbage hurled at my children comes from the others who call themselves Christians and judge my children as not being Christian enough. Recently my 16 year old son was invited by the Gay-Straight Alliance in his school to “join” the club because he was one of the few non-judgmental people (let alone Christians) they knew. He was ridiculed by the “Christian” group in his school because he refused to tell those in the GSA they were an abomination and going to hell. As sad as this situation is to me, (I hate the fact that my Children must face hate and prejudice on their own.) I was more alarmed by my daughter’s concern. Her friends ( on the worship team of all places) had been talking the night before about Obama being the anti-Christ. I cannot tell you how angry and betrayed I feel. I never would have thought I would have to protect my children from other Christians. These are not opinions that come from the pulpit but that they even exist within our fellowship scares me.


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