Just Don’t Write About It

Trust

Gentle Reader,

I suppose this has become a series. Should probably think of a title for it.

How does “Everyone is Crazy” sound? Ah, I can hear the protests. Stop using that word! It’s ableist! Everyone thinks differently, obviously, but as someone who takes a pill every night in the attempt to keep her mind functioning properly, I don’t use “crazy” as an insult. I use it as a shorthand for “let’s put some Prozac in the water supply so maybe everyone can chill out a little, okay?”

Anyway.

It’s popular to publish “listicles,” those sometimes-annoying pop-up articles that proclaim to reveal “10 Secrets to Younger Looking Skin!” or “5 Steps to Becoming a Master Underwater Basket Weaver!” The exact opposite of popular is publishing articles discussing the intersection of theology and politics, or, as I like to think of it, pavement doctrine. You know, the way in which we walk out this thing called “faith” on a day-to-day basis. Actually, as I read these sentences, I realize that it’s okay to write about pavement doctrine, as long as you, the author, choose to stay in a specific lane on the road. “Conservatives” have their favorites, as do “progressives.”

When you go hop-scotching around, discussing the flaws on all sides…well, you lose subscribers. Occasionally get roasted on social media, but that’s kind of a badge of honor, right? My skin is certainly thicker than it used to be.

So why put yourself through that?, people ask. Just don’t write about it.

Would that I could. Can’t so I won’t.

Do you know that Christianity is an intellectual faith? Certainly relationship with God is not only about the mind, but nor is it about closing the mind. This is so obvious, so essential to the truth-claims that we make, that I cannot understand how so many operate from a place of…not stupidity (I don’t believe that anyone is actually stupid, meaning incapable of thought), but willful ignorance. Anything outside of the tidy little boxes we prefer is nothing about which we wish to know or understand.

Consider the issue of abortion. I am a pacifist, so I am as pro-life as you can get. The ending of human life by other humans is abhorrent in all its forms. Do you know that this, oddly, puts me outside of the pro-life movement much of the time?

Think about it. The Republican Party has positioned itself as being anti-abortion, correct? The rallying cry is “overturn Roe v. Wade!” Never mind the fact that overturning simply kicks the issue back to the states, who will make their own laws, rather than making abortion illegal. And if abortion were made illegal, would the GOP then legislate things like equal access to contraceptives (men can buy condoms at the store no problem; women need to visit the doctor for a prescription) which would mean shaking free of the insurance lobbyists and actually reforming the healthcare system?

The Democrats are no better. The party fights amongst itself right now, attempting to determine if abortion-on-demand will become a litmus test for membership. Loud voices begin to make it quite clear that pro-life people are not welcome. Never mind that pro-life people would likely help pass things like true healthcare reform and sensible environmental protections, planks on the Democratic platform. This makes it seem as though there is no place for people of faith.

That’s the problem with both party loyalty and single issue voting. Neither allows for nuance.

Our faith should enable us to think critically. We should be comfortable with nuance. That might sound strange, because the truth of salvation is so starkly black-and-white. It is. Jesus, and Jesus alone, saves. And what happens after that? I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: We live as Revelation 21 people in a Genesis 3 world. This means that we should clearly see that all systems are made by humans, who are fundamentally warped, and as such, no philosophical stance regarding the role of government is going to have every answer. No political party is going to get it right every time. No president is going to usher in a golden age.

Because golden ages, no matter what the history books say, don’t exist.

Mediate on these words:

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

– Psalm 20:7 (NKJV)

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Suck It, Buttface

Trust

Gentle Reader,

Last week I wrote about the United States being caught in the grip of a nation-wide panic attack. Everyone seems to be dialed up to “11” at all times, ready to snap at the slightest provocation. Surely there are cooler heads out there, but they are not in control of the narrative. At all. Instead, shouts of “war!” and “enemies!” and “conspiracy!” fill our ears, via the breakneck news cycle and our collective social media addiction.

The confirmation and swearing in of Brett Kavanaugh as the 114th justice of the Supreme Court hasn’t helped.

I purposefully waited to write this, what might be the second installment of a series and what might be just a rather annoyed addition to the previous (I don’t know yet), until after last Saturday’s vote. Like many others, I watched the entirety of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony the week prior. I watched Judge Kavanaugh’s rebuttal. I watched Senators play politics, making speeches that sounded really good but ultimately contained nothing of substance. Everyone voted exactly as was expected. I watched as hard battle lines were drawn – “It’s so hard to be a man in America because those women, they lie!” vs. “All women must be believed!” I watched as Christian men and women shot off tweets and posted think-pieces in which they said, “Well, you know, the Bible does say that there needs to be two or more witnesses to a crime before anyone can be convicted…”

But mostly I watched as disgusting memes were passed around and those on the “winning side” gleefully enjoyed their “victory.”

Let’s break this down.

Everyone voted exactly as was expected: Where, oh, where, are the politicians who will put country ahead of party? Where is this generation’s Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy? Where is the man or woman moved by faith in the Creator, convicted and convinced that he or she must be a good steward of the creation?

I do have to give credit to Heidi Heitkamp, Senator from North Dakota. She, a Democrat in a strong Republican state, could have taken the easier way out and cast a vote that may have earned her a bump in a contentious race. (That’s what Joe Manchin, Senator from West Virginia, appears to have done, from a strictly political, in-the-middle of a campaign perspective, based on what has been reported in both right- and left-leaning publications. Ultimately, I don’t know why he voted “yes,” since I can’t read his mind). She chose to vote her conscience instead, based on her statements. May more rise up and do the same.

It’s so hard to be a man in America: Are you kidding me? Do people really think that women are working behind men’s backs to take them down because…? You know this isn’t true. I mean, come on. Your mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, coworkers and friends do not have a secret website where they share strategy and receive marching orders (probably from George Soros, who I am not entirely convinced is a real person). This is just the latest battle in the gender war that has raged since Adam and Eve ate the fruit. You really think that Satan doesn’t want to divide men and women from each other? To get us to view the opposite gender with suspicion, fear, disdain? To tempt us to try and dominate and abuse each other?

Women aren’t your enemy.

(For sure not all men believe these things or think this way. I’m privileged to know a lot of good guys. However, I’ve also seen some disturbing memes and rhetoric about women, coming from Christian men. This section applies to them. If this isn’t you, brother, please, confront the wrong thinking).

All women must be believed: My response here is nuanced, which we’re so good at these days, so please, do try to read all of it.

Just as man should not automatically be believed because he is a man, neither should a woman automatically be believed because she is a woman. Ah, I can hear the laptops slamming shut. Do not misunderstand me. I fully comprehend sexual assault statistics. I know how common it is. I get that the women who make false accusations are few and far between in the grand total. Men have been inappropriate toward me. I have had people work to destroy my reputation because I have chosen to come forward. I want perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Proponents of feminism and #MeToo have to be very conscious of pursuing just that, justice, rather than grabbing the double-standard that has been used against women for so long and stabbing men with it. We don’t like that men are automatically believed because they are men. At least, I don’t. So I don’t want to be automatically believed because I’m a woman. Basically, gender shouldn’t enter into the equation.

Equal treatment doesn’t mean special treatment. Does that mean we, particularly Christian women who understand and embrace that we are fully the equal of men in God’s design and also understand that the injustices of this world are rooted in sin, are going to have to work to pass better laws, to get church leaders to deal with sin rather than sweep it under the rug, to expose and work to correct often unconscious social attitudes that are biased against women? Yep. And no, it’s not fair. It’s not right. But when I think of all of my goddaughters – six in total – I know that it’s worth it.

Speaking truth and working for justice is always worth it, even when it hurts. That’s a hard thing to settle on, knowing that no form of utopia will ever be achieved this side of Eternity. But we cannot, must not, cease to do good, no matter how strong the wrong seems.

Two or more witnesses: Again, are you kidding me? Nice job taking Deuteronomy 19:15 out of context, guys. Great spin. If the only possible way that anyone, ever, could be convicted for any crime is for there to have been witnesses to the crime, no sexual assault cases would ever be prosecuted. Guess who saw the things that happened to me? Nobody other than me and the men who did them. Does that mean I’m lying?

And this whole issue of lying? People lie when they can get something out of it. Covering their butts, advancing up the corporate or social latter, you name it. Lies are motivated by the desire to achieve something. Again, back to nuance here: I don’t want to be believed simply because I am a woman, but at the same time, what do I or any others who come forward and speak about what’s happened to them have to gain? Nothing but additional problems, in my experience.

(Note: Yes, some women have lied about being assaulted. That doesn’t make all women liars any more than the fact that some men rape makes all men rapists).

Finally, the victory dance: Incredibly disgusting. I saw things posted by fellow Christians that should make them blush with guilt. Really, you want to “crush the left” and “destroy the libtards?”

You think that makes Jesus happy?

That’s what it’s all about. At least, that’s what it’s supposed to be all about for us, the ones who plunge ourselves into the fountain filled with His cleansing blood. What pleases Jesus?

He’s not pleased when we look at our neighbors and sneer, “Suck it, buttface.” He’s not pleased when we reduce our fellow people to soulless opponents in a game that nobody can win because the rules are ever-shifting and the goalposts always moving. He’s not pleased when we think that the Gospel belongs to and is lived out only by the segment of the population who votes a certain way. He’s not pleased when we care more about what CNN or Fox has to say than we do what He says, contained on the dusty pages of our Bibles (or, for us awful Millennials and Gen Z-ers, in our rarely-opened Bible apps).

Meditate upon these words:

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

– Psalm 20:7 (NKJV)

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P.S. – I couldn’t figure out where to fit this, but just so everyone knows: Democrats aren’t fascists. Fascism is a right-wing position. Making that claim is like saying that Republicans are socialists, a left-wing position. If you’re going to engage in hyperbole, at least use the terms correctly. Thank you and goodnight.

Additonal p.s. – Underlined words/phrases indicate editing done after reading Andrew’s comment below. He was right in his point about Manchin. I apologize for being hasty and too broad in my comments. I seek to be even-handed but I don’t always succeed. I appreciate gentle, constructive criticism.

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Xanax, Please

Trust

Gentle Reader,

The United States is engulfed in a collective panic attack, leaving few, if any, members of the population untouched. Hearts racing, fists clenched, eyes darting to-and-fro, sweat pouring down our faces, the awful sense of dread and death. We consume the news (that changes every minute), wondering if we’ll ever be able to keep up with or figure out what is going on. What is this place? Who are these people?

In our anxiety, we allow our desires greater freedom. Not the desires we usually think of – food, sex, shopping, sleep – although they are certainly tempting coping mechanisms. Instead, we indulge in the desire to label. To draw lines. To cast others as the villains of the story. To rationalize, justify and defend our preferences, to the death if need be, even if those preferences are wildly out of line with the ethics and worldview laid out in Scripture.

I am not immune. For over two years I have been swept up in the political chaos. Burned in the dumpster fire. Politics has always interested me; all the movements, personalities and philosophies are part of history, the studying of which is second only to theology in my list of passions. I can still remember the “I’m Just a Bill” song from School House Rock. I once asked a teacher how Thomas Jefferson could write “all men are created equal” when he owned slaves. Theodore Roosevelt (who, yes, was problematic in some areas; I get it) became my favorite president in high school and I love him still for his trust-busting and his desire to preserve and protect nature. I have never, ever understood “strategic voting” or “straight ticket” or party loyalty in general, choosing instead to remain staunchly unaffiliated and doing my best to vote for the best person for each job, which I freely, honestly confess to you tonight has resulted at times in a sense of smugness. Why can’t everyone just be smart like me?

See? We’re all in this together.

It’s all fascinating. The debates, the processes, the great speeches. But this interest has become a sickness. I see it in myself. I see it in everyone else, even those who really do try to steer clear of the swift and churning currents. In this hyper-connected age, our suspicions and tensions are inevitably heightened, the fires of fear stoked by Executive and Congressional branches that want…power.

All of them, even the best of them, are dazzled by the allure of authority. Those who sit in seats of command may begin their careers from a place of service to the country, but few remain in that place for long. When Senator Lindsey Graham thunders, “All you want is power and I hope you never get it!,” he condemns himself along with all the rest, for the clear meaning in his words is: “We, my party, my people – me, myself, I – deserve that power.”

This isn’t new. Skim a history book. George Washington warned against the formation of political parties and believed that the president should stay above partisanship – he’s the only one. As soon as he was gone, the bitterness began. Seriously; John Adams, second president, was generally hated, especially in the Southern states, and served only one term. Andrew Jackson, seventh president, planted the seeds of modern campaigning in 1828, complete with negative advertisements and fake news. Down the timeline we roll, past inspiringly great and truly awful politicians, through great national moments and genuinely depressing ones, until we arrive here, now, in the Age of Nasty.

This is part of our DNA as both people living in the United States and people warped by sin. We fight because, well, that’s literally how the country came into being and we fight because that’s what we’ve been doing since Cain murdered Abel. We want to be on the winning side, with the ones in charge, because that’s how and where we believe we will find fulfillment, peace and safety.

Dominance, at all costs.

That is the way of the world, the hazy society that chooses to turn away form God.

For the Children of God, this should not be so.

This cannot be the way we operate. That hazy society looks at us right now and scoffs, telling us that we are no better than they are. And they aren’t wrong. They really aren’t.

What do we do?

I don’t think we can answer that question until we sit and face reality for a good, long while. We’ve all heard that the first step in conquering a problem is admitting that there is a problem in the first place. Tonight, let’s admit that. We have a problem. We have placed our trust in something and someones other than God. Pause and ponder the confession. Feel its weight.

Then meditate upon these words:

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

– Psalm 20:7 (NKJV)

We’re going on a journey, you and me.

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Brothers and sisters who do not live in the United States: Please, go on this journey with us. I know that you are not in the thick of this situation, but we need you. We need your prayers and we need your outsider’s perspective. We need you to remind us that we who have been redeemed by Jesus are part of a global community, brought together by His blood and grace.

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