Five Minute Friday: Depend

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

The scent of sawdust fills the air. I hear the mechanical whine of the blade as it slices through wood. My husband, self-taught carpenter that he is, labors over another project. Only it isn’t labor for him. It’s joy. Release. Relaxation.

Occasionally it’s a swear word and throwing something.

Kate says: depend.

Go.

I have a post written. I’ve cut it from here and pasted it elsewhere. Attempting to decide if it should be published. Gone back and forth for a solid 20 minutes.

This is far longer than the usual FMF entry. And it might make you mad.

Here goes.

********

In light of the command to go and share the Gospel, does this matter? When you are on your face before the throne in Eternity, will this matter?

Two questions that came to mind early this morning as I lay on the couch, bemoaning my existence. (To paraphrase Jon Leguizamo as Tybalt in Baz Lurhman’s amazing adaptation of Romeo & Juliet: “Migraine, thou art a villain”). Normally I cannot think deeply when in pain. In fact, I can barely think at all. But clear as a bell, these questions rang through my mind, adding their noise to the discordant symphony already in progress.

The overall, highly generalized answer to both: It depends.

So some dudes who make a lot of money to play a game have been kneeling before said games while the “Star-Spangled Banner” is performed. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began doing so on September 2, 2016, after a conversation with Nate Boyer, a former Seahawk and Green Beret. Before then, Kaepernick sat on the bench during the anthem. Boyer understood the Kaepernick wanted to protest police brutality against African-Americans, but encouraged him to take a more respectful posture while doing so, which Kaepernick did. Others have since followed suit.

This opened a ginormous can of worms.

But oddly, a year later.

President Trump chose to cast these peaceful, lawful, respectful protests as being anti-American and anti-veteran. (I don’t know what’s in his mind, but could this sudden battle have been waged to distract everyone from what’s happening – or not happening – in Washington, D.C.)?

Some believe that these rich, privileged men have no right to protest anything, no right to draw attention to injustice. (Because you have to be poor to protest? Or you have to experience a bad thing in order to say the thing is bad? Or you can’t care about the “little guy” when you’re famous)?

Others say that, instead of protesting, they should give time and money to organizations that will make things better. (I don’t doubt that some are big talkers, but I also don’t doubt that more than a few of these men do just that. We simply don’t hear of it. And if we did, we’d probably skewer them for their pride in parading their good deeds for all to see, because we, the public, are quite fickle and impossible to please).

Another set desires new laws to be made, laws that enforce displays of commonly-accepted patriotism. (That’s what North Korea does. Aren’t we not fans of that kind of thing)?

It boils down to: First Amendment, sure, but not like that.

Parts of the above remain within the realm of “I can sort of see your point” but certain folks take it a step farther and conflate standing for the anthem with worshiping God. In order to be a good Christian, you must be a good American, in the way that the majority understands being a good American. Hot dogs and apple pie and all that. Because Jesus loves America more than other countries.

It bothers me more than I can express to see “render unto Caesar” and “let every soul be subject to the governing authorities” abused in order to prop up American civil religion, a belief system that cannot and will not save. The Bible does not command anyone to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” If that’s what you believe, then, in order to be consistent, you have to be angry with the Amish, Mennonites and other religious groups who neither sing nor pledge. You have to stop reading this blog and shun me forever, because my convictions on this run very contrary to popular opinion.

Do not mistake me: I judge no Christian who stands for the anthem or says the pledge. That is between the individual and God. (To be perfectly honest, I don’t care if anyone stands, sits or kneels. This is genuinely not something that’s an issue to me, which is why I’m perplexed at the passion this has aroused in so many). What causes me to tear my hair out is when Christians scream about those who do not stand or pledge, particularly fellow Christians who do not stand or pledge, as if they do not have the freedom, enshrined in the Constitution we all claim to love, but most especially within the confines of the intelligence and the will that He gave each person, to make a different choice, a choice that is neither unlawful, immoral or disrespectful, despite being discussed in such terms.

(Note here before continuing: Dear reader, I am a pacifist. I have not, do not and will not support violence. I do not believe in being nasty to those with whom you disagree. I have family members in the military and on the police force, and so I know that the majority of people who enter these professions are doing so out of a genuine desire to do what they believe to be right and not because they are hateful, awful people).

I don’t know if protest is always the right way to address anything, but I support the right of these men to take a knee. They aren’t yelling at anyone, or spitting on graves, or shooting at people, or burning buildings. They’re just kneeling for two minutes or less. They are quietly drawing attention to a real problem.

You don’t have to agree with them. You don’t have to like what they’re doing. You can choose to never watch football again.

Isn’t it nice to have that freedom?

What you can’t do is say that they don’t have a right to do this – the NFL makes the rules regarding player conduct, not the viewers or the government. You can’t say that they hate America or soldiers – those interviewed consistently and clearly say that their protests aren’t about any of that. You can’t say that Christians who support these men or who do not choose to sing or pledge are any less saved than you are – salvation is found in Christ alone, not Christ and patriotism.

But let’s get back to the questions that began this post: Does this matter? Will it matter?

I don’t want to present a false dichotomy, a trap I unknowingly fell into earlier this week when discussing these things. You can be upset about the protest and the devastation in Puerto Rico and a whole host of other things that are going on. You’re not required to pick and choose. But, again, does nail-spitting anger over 2 minutes or less and quiet kneeling matter right now and will it matter later?

Or is it all just a distraction?

Now go and read this other long thing, written by someone far smarter than me.

Stop (was a long time ago).

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17 thoughts on “Five Minute Friday: Depend

  1. Marie,
    we must have posted at the same time! West Coast for the win. 😀
    I have had many ponderings on this very topic this week, so I am glad to hear your thoughts. Though I am a peacemaker by nature and shy away from conflict whenever possible. (Flight or fight…I’m fright. I freeze.)
    And, you are right. Christianity and patriotism shouldn’t be synonymous.
    I’m grateful that our salvation does not depend on our performance.
    Great post!
    Love,
    Tammy
    (linked up right behind you at lucky number seven)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You wrote everything I’m scared to write. 100% in agreement here, friend.

    One of my favorite classes in college looked at the history of the US through the lens of our church/Christian foundations through the years. This professor was known to stir up controversy and debate, usually being the devil’s advocate to the point that he made your head spin. I loved it. He made me THINK. One of our debates was on nationalism/patriotism, and oh boy did it get heated. But I stopped saying the pledge and anthem after it. Because my devotion isn’t here– I’m only passing through. My home is the kingdom, and I can’t pledge allegiance to both. Just like you said-“salvation is found in Christ alone, not Christ and patriotism.”
    That class was a turning point for me and my alignments politically and spiritually.

    I just can’t get over people that follow Jesus (or claim to) are more upset about this than all the devastation in the world right now. You can be upset at both, but which one is killing people? Which one has devastated a US territory? It’s not Kaepernick and his kneeling, I’ll tell you that much. It makes me SO angry that people are using the same 1st amendment right to deny said rights from others. It blows my mind.

    Thank you for hitting publish on this one.

    Like

    1. My thoughts on the pledge are similar to yours. I’m afraid to even potentially place anything before God. Some people tell me that I think too hard about this, and maybe I do, but I’d rather be too sensitive to idolatry than not sensitive at all. (I definitely don’t meant that people who say the pledge are idolatrous. It’s different for each person).

      I do hope that we can all turn our eyes to the suffering that’s right on our doorstep and respond with compassion.

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  3. Marie, I appreciate your post. I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic this week. I so appreciate your insightful words here. I’ll admit, as the wife of a retired Air Force soldier, I’ve struggled a little with this issue. I’ve come to the conclusion that, in our country, we are blessed with the freedom to express our opinions. We have the privilege of being able to stand up for those we feel are being unfairly treated. This is a freedom few in this world enjoy. We can agree or disagree with how others express their opinions, and that is our privilege. I believe we need to live our lives sold out for Jesus, and this will looking like us loving others, even when we disagree with them on their political (or other) stances.

    I feel like I’m being too wordy. 🙂 Trying to put my thoughts into cohesive sentences. 😉 Great post, my friend.

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    1. You’re not too wordy at all! I can appreciate that this is a complicated subject for some. I think if we’d all take a step back and listen to each other, we’d all be better for it.

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  4. You said what I’ve wanted to say. As a friend reminded me, if we are honoring America/patriotism more than God, we have a problem. God should be the only one true God. Thank you for this thoughtful post friend. Im right there with you! I’m in the 8 spot this week.

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    1. I think people can be both love God and love their country. The trouble comes when we can’t separate the two, when we place a bit of land that will one day fade away over the Lord who never will.

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  5. Marie, good post.

    In giving the whole thing some thought, it seems to me that the root issue is not patriotism or respect, but good manners.

    If you had gone to a cinema in England during WW2, you would, as an American and a guest in the country, have been expected during the playing of God Save The King that preceded every screening. It would not have signified your Englishness; it would have been good manners to show respect for your host’s values and symbols.

    In a real sense, the NFL is in the same situation. They are the de facto guests of the fans in the stadiums, and of the television viewers. It is not our privilege to watch them play; it is their privilege to perform for us, and this makes them PAID guests.

    Can the team owners vouchsafe their ‘right’ to kneel or otherwise carry on? Sure. But it doesn’t alter the fact that they are before a paying audience who came to see a football game, and did not pay for political re-education.

    It’s downright rude…and though it may be for two minutes, would tolerate two minutes of ill manners from a paid entertainer?

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      1. marie,one thing I heard today was that for the game played in London last weekend, the players for both NFL teams sat for the US anthem, and stood for “God Save The Queen”.

        That would seem to indicate a deliberate disrespect, and I cannot imagine how embarrassing it must have been for their English hosts.

        Barbara said that it’s like going to a different church, and remaining seated when the rest of the congregation stands. I certainly wouldn’t do that.

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  6. I love reading your deep thoughts, Marie. I have never grappled well with things like this but I must confess, I like to listen, ponder and pray…NPR is where I have heard the latest. I so like Andrew’s take too as I just read above. I am with you, asking the concluding question. I keep going back to King Solomon’s words and how he said there’s nothing new under the sun. I hear his words and in a way they give me comfort. Such things that seem so awkward, empty and beyond repair must bow to Hope I say!! Err– sorry I just finished writing thousands of words and am picturing myself in an 1800’s nostalgic movie scene as I type. I chalk it up to watching a BBC show in my free time. God bless and hope I at least made you laugh, as you made me think!

    Like

    1. You did indeed make me smile!

      There really is nothing new under the sun, is there? People oppressing each other, talking past each other, getting angry. May Jesus bring healing and renewal.

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  7. Thanks for your post Marie. I have been thinking recently of the power to define and redefine and ascribe motive. Colin Kaepernick’s motive was to protest police brutality and draw attention to what has happened seemingly unchecked and without punishment to communities of color. But his opponents have made it about the flag and the anthem. The power to define and redefine and attribute motive. Some issues are worth appearing ill mannered to others. And what has happened and continues to happen to members of my community, is worth protesting, using the platforms we have at our disposal.

    Like

    1. That, I think, is what bothers me most about this. People either don’t listen when these athletes explain why they protest, or it’s assumed that they’re lying. That’s neither right nor fair. I wish people would take a step back and really consider what these men are truly saying.

      Liked by 1 person

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