This has indeed been a week of weeks. We started a new year trying to figure out Covid-19 and doing our dadgumedest (made up word) to press into normal as best we can. Then January 6 happened. I have been doing my best to not let it be bigger than it is, but it seems to be growing and have a life of its own and is growing like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on Gozer.
The things I’m writing I’ve experienced or watched friends experience them ALL OVER THE NATION NOT JUST ROME, GA. These observations have a larger scope than just my city.
To even write about it is an invitation to get verbal abuse heaped upon the old noggin. To ignore it is not the best option either.
Perhaps some “spiritual leaders” can keep silent, and good for them or woe on them? Not sure. Maybe they are just smarter and choose their places better. Good for them and woe on me. Maybe I am a writer who can’t spin thoughts or other’s thoughts to make them all sound positive so that the metaphorical sugar of the easy words makes the medicine of challenging thought go down easier. I’m talking about all platforms for public dialogue such as social media and writing platforms such as blogs.
There is a fine line between being quarrelsome and simply stating some observations for public consumption whether my words and thoughts or other person’s words and thoughts quoted for public consumption because they are worth noting. Is it quarrelsome to simply state a thought that prompts a poor response?
Isn’t it gaslighting to respond poorly and then blame the person being responded to for the poor response of the responder? “If you hadn’t said anything they wouldn’t have responded in an unhealthy way.” Is that healthy? I don’t think so.
Perhaps the quarrelsome part comes in responding to foolish responses. Some thoughts should be read and digested from many people around the world related to our national mess without turning it into a personal attack, questioning character, questioning salvation, questioning one’s viability to be a spiritual leader, etc.
Here are a few personal takeaways from this week in no particular order.
- As a general rule, it’s hard to have any civil dialogue with the courtesy of the ability to think freely and not be branded, marginalized, or attacked.
- If attacked, don’t expect help. People don’t want any of that. And the truth is, many are hesitant to speak any legit fact for fear of getting the abuse heaped on them.
- Christian ministry robustly applied to the public square and not merely contained to broad spiritual feel-good platitudes or squarely located in a particular political idealogy is not welcome. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Amos, or Hagai would not be our spiritual heroes of the day. We’d stone them to death or saw them in two. Hey, doesn’t Hebrews 11 say something about that?
- Theological and political liberals show more love and grace than conservatives. Even the use of “liberal” and “conservative” need to be defined now. But that is a different post.
- Scripture is routinely abused and misapplied further displaying biblical illiteracy by a population with more bible access and teaching than ever before. Hmmm?
- Extremes rule the day such as the idea that if one disagrees with something it is equal to hating them or the inability to be friends.
- Political idealogy is a greater threat to church unity than Covid-19, and this week has pulled the curtains back on this all across our nation.
- Post-modernity is on full display in the reliance on narrative as our source of truth, and the problem is that there are thousands of metanarratives and sub narratives from sources of who knows what that are determining thousands of truth claims. The scary thing is that many are using the bible and Christian language to carry their message or get buy-in from Christians. This why spin is so important. Spin wins or repels. There is very little straight talk and information.
- Related to this, it’s too easy to want strict rules that allow for no conscience or free exercise and then say that people of a different conscience don’t love the others of another conscience because they don’t do what the others want. Whew. This is the result of assimilating a false narrative and not letting Romans 14 set the narrative.
- Few seem concerned about the use of Jesus’ name and his cross being used alongside nooses and gallows and guillotines and violence. This one grieves me the most. Perhaps they are concerned, but they choose silence because they don’t want the abuse coming if they speak. I get it.
- I’m thankful for the few that can/will have a civil discussion on our disagreements and the necessary nuance to have those discussions without breaking fellowship.
NOTE: This is not an ask for any empathy for anyone or myself, and it’s not a cry for sympathy. It is simply some observations that make my soul heavy. Take from these observations what you will. But whatever you do, do it in love, and if there is no framework for understanding that (look at Jesus…all of him and work out how Matthew 23 is loving) then it’s best to be silent until that is learned.