Cultural Cancer

Political mudslinging is like cultural cancer.  It spreads as if it has a life of its own, sucking out happiness and peace and replacing them with anger, fear and anxiety.  I find it very hard not to be dragged into the ugliness of it.  I also find it hard not to become self-righteous about my indifference to the things that seem to be of such intense importance to so many others.

As Cherie recently told me, we’re exiles.  Or at least it seems that way in times like these.

This is the season when my friends and acquaintances chose their sides in the battle that matters so much to them and seems so pointless, trivial and petty to me.  It would be much easier for me to ignore, as I do when folks get worked up over loyalties to sports teams, if so many of them didn’t magnify their political preferences into some grandiose statement about “America’s future” or, worst of all, religion and God.

In my part of the world the vast majority of the people I know (if they are white) have chosen the Republican team.  On social media many of them declare that the other team is composed of God-less Karl Marx-worshipping America-haters.

Many of my virtual friends are politically “progressive” Christians (terms that would be considered mutually exclusive by most folks around here).  Many of them are declaring their loyalty to the Democrat team.  On social media many of them declare that the other team is composed of God-less Ayn Rand-worshipping women-haters.

Although the left is usually less overt about it, the message of both sides is that God is on their side, as are all good Christians.

I’m convinced alien observers would be astonished at how little reality matches the politically partisan perception of it.

I’m sick of it.  This election just can’t come soon enough.  Then we can get around to trying to repair all the relational damage we’ve done to each other as a result of it.

At the Wild Goose festival I was standing next to John Dear as we watched a famous progressive Christian speak.  To my ears it sounded way too much like a stump speech for the re-election of President Obama.  Most troublesome to me was the speaker’s refusal to engage the matter of the Obama administration’s warmongering.  I recalled how passionately this speaker attacked the same behavior in the prior administration.  John Dear, a Jesuit priest, has devoted his life to peace activism.  Having heard him speak to these same issues, I knew that he calls things the way they are and would never be an apologist for any political party.  As we listened to the speaker I turned to Fr. Dear and said, “I wish they’d give you the chance to do a rebuttal to this.”  He chuckled, gave his boyish grin and responded, “Yeah, it’s all bulls–t.  But (the speaker) has done a lot of good for people.”

I wish I was better able to laugh off the political bs and see only the good in people, the way John Dear did that day.  Of course if we all followed Jesus as radically as John Dear, we’d be far less interested in politics.  He’s been arrested protesting war and violence so many times that he’s lost his right to vote.  I’m pretty sure that if Jesus lived in contemporary America and managed to avoid getting killed, they wouldn’t let him vote either.  And he wouldn’t care.

The forwarding of outrageous emails and posting of absurd accusations has become a common feature of American politics.  Yesterday I read a great blog post by a pastor who wrote:

Some Christians, in the name of God, say and do things in the realm of politics that are the antithesis of the gospel: slander, gossip, malicious talk, mean-spirited rhetoric, disrespect, and worse. This has been particularly true when it comes to spreading rumors and half-truths using the Internet.  Forwarding e-mails with half-truths, or misleading information about another person, whether they are our President or a congressperson, or your next door neighbor, is slanderous and this, Jesus and Paul both tell us, makes us liable for judgment before God.

You can read his entire post HERE.

I realize that there are many folks who are political partisans, yet who have remained civil and courteous even as those around them seem to lose their minds.  They are proof that it can be done.  If only more folks were like them.

Jenna Lee Nardella, the founder and executive director of Blood:Water Mission, delivered the benediction at the DNC Tuesday night.  It’s the only thing from either convention that I have watched.  I watched it because two people I respect (Derek Webb and Lucas Land) posted it on facebook and I knew they wouldn’t have done so if it was just more political muckraking.  I love how she spoke to what is happening in our country.  Because she didn’t throw any bloody meat to the sharks, she’ll probably not be invited back.  It’s worth a few minutes of time to listen to her prayer:

For any who have made it this far, I encourage y’all to read Cherie’s great post titled “Love Wins.”  (It is HERE).  She’s right.  And in the end, love does win.

Here’s the song she mentions.

Love Wins