Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Jesus Factor

Lately I've been practicing being more mindful of my words, a difficult task for a compulsive blurter and out-loud-thinker such as myself.  Tucked into this study of my speech is a look at what my actions communicate as well.

Partly inspired by the {largely} unnecessary rift my as-yet-unprocessed, somewhat reactionary words recently caused between a friend and me, a large part of this introspective exercise has been prompted by social media and the endemic disregard for viewpoints other than one's own.

In particular, two topics on Facebook recently gave me pause to speculate... election politics and the wild rumpus concerning Chik-Fil-A's disapproval of the LBGT {GLBT, LGBTQ, GLBTIQQTA, LGBTQIA??? So many choices!} crowd.

In situation the first...people on FB have vilified, deducted IQ points from, and {my personal "favorite"} quickly posted propagandist infographics to trump anyone who may have a different viewpoint than their own.  I'll admit it, I've fallen prey to that last one a time or two, but in fairness, I will also say that when people pointed out fallacies in the logic, I removed them.  I can't tell you how many times I've sucked the air in as I've read posts filled with disdain for their neighbor, thinking, "Ouch!"  I've seen die-hard liberals post the most intolerant things and devout right-wingers with hate, and the irony of it all just makes my heart ache.  It makes me ashamed sometimes, too.  Every time I read about how a friend with more Libertarian/Tea Party views thinks that welfare is from the devil, that it should all be done away with and left to churches and non-profits to handle, I think were it not for Food Stamps, AFDC, HeadStart and who knows how many other government interventions, I would not have survived.  Did I, lacking the luxury to choose the circumstances into which I was born, not deserve to eat, have sufficient clothing {far from trendy, expensive, or abundant}or a decent shot at life?  I want to say,"Yes, my parents made crappy life choices that had them facing parenthood far too soon, and you shouldn't have had to shoulder the cost of those choices, in principle.  But in reality, que sera sera, {turns out choices aren't always apparent and thus the discussion of responsibility waxes much more philosophical} and I thank God everyday for the hard-working taxpayers whose witholdings covered our basic needs and equipped me with the opportunities to overcome my origins.  Will right-wingers begrudge the programs that support children in need?

Moreover, do these folks not know that MANY non-profits rely heavily on government funding?   Meals on Wheels organizations generally {not all} receive large amounts of their budgets via federal grants authorized by the Older Americans Act (passed in 1965); domestic violence services rely heavily on funds related to the Violence Against Women Act, which almost didn't get reauthorized this year thanks to partisanship.  

Those thoughts aside, I realize we all come to our conclusions based on our life experiences.  And whether we feed anger and resentment or peace and joy often determines what will win our words, our actions, our 
votes.  Sometimes, when I try to reconcile my interpretation of Jesus against those of people/organizations that feed a sense of inferiority and fear regarding those who live differently, feel differently, I get vehemently angry and go down the "Well Jesus got mad as heck with the Pharisees in the temple" road, but know what? While human, Jesus was also fully Divine and didn't sin in his anger.  I, uh,as it turns out, don't have that superpower.  So....

I think on it.  I try to remember James 1:19-20.  The first part is easy enough, as we've all heard it:  Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.  The second part, though?  It's a challenge because it's God reminding me of my place: because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  Ooof-da.  So what does it look like when we are quick to listen, slow to speak, and yet genuine enough to say, "I feel differently than you do,"; well, Glennon recently showed us how it can go really, really well.  And her closing remarks are spot on:

 ...our world views usually come from the world we’ve experienced, not from the goodness of our hearts. If you’ve experienced the world as loving and generous – that is how you will live, in abundance. But if you’ve experienced the world as uncaring and cold, then it only makes sense that you will continue to live with that world view.
It’s really why we need to take care of each other. Listen to each other. Undig our heels. Surprise each other. We really do.

Because, if we don't take care and listen to each other, if we don't set our pride aside and try to understand {not the same as agree, y'all} we are left with fear.  And the thing with fear is that it doesn't stay static.  It breeds.  Rachel summed it up best:
Fear turns into misunderstanding turns into a lack of care, concern or love. Eventually it ostracizes.
And this goes beyond hobbies and interests. This goes beyond career choice and bleeds into the human response and how we relate to one another at a deep, gut level.
I have never understood the fear of something "different". Fear is power and and a power that is much larger then us so if we let it invade our souls, we become ineffective.
So, with respect to the whole politics thing - we need to respect each other, we need to ask questions rather than assume, we need grace and mercy, we need tolerance.  All of which I have found an example for in Christ.


Now, issue the second...

First let me just say that I've known for a long time that ChickFilA was linked to some pro-traditional marriage events, so I suspected they would be opposed to gay marriage and would probably lobby accordingly.  No surprise there.  I also know that Starbucks is LGBT friendly and that I still happily consume their liquid crack, ahem, fine beverages.  {insert tongue in cheek} I figure my patronage at both places cancels out; no harm, no fowl, right? {pun only half-heartedly intended}

In all seriousness, though...increasingly so, in America, votes are lobbied through the Almighty Dollar.  It's naive to think that Chick Fil A wouldn't be tied to a conservative lobby.  And right now, hot-topic conservative lobbies focus on abortion and preserving traditional  

A good friend posed a great question on FB about this:
I've been pondering the Chick-fil-a brouhaha today, and actually wondering what Jesus would have done. Then I realized that yeah, Jesus was totally in to grass roots legislation. Remember all those times he lobbied the Roman Empire for social reforms? And all those Facebook posts? Remember all those laws he tried to get passed banning different sins? You don't? Hmmm. What do you remember? How did Jesus ACTUALLY deal with sin and sinners?

Seems to me that if you're going to ban gay marriage, you also probably ought to ban divorce?  Especially because divorce is more of a threat to a traditional marriage than whether two people of the same gender getting the same legal protections as a husband and wife would, but that's just me.  Or, how about we skip that whole judging x sin as worse than y sin game and just fund services that serve homebound elderly/disabled, and or foster care kids in need of a forever home?   After all James 1:27 says that pure and faultless religion is caring for widows and orphans in need.

Instead, people began hurling out painful generalizations about this group and that.  On the upside, Chick Fil A does have great service and their food is tasty.  On the negative, side, there were alleged reports of pulling the Muppets toys in retaliation to their pull-out of Chick Fil A business, fake FB accounts to help do damage control, etc.  I really hope that's not the case, because as Christians, we need to really think about what our actions say too.
2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
In closing,  let us all be kinder, gentler with each other, respecting that a person's life experiences give them the worldview they have.  For me, I grew up poor, but I also saw the impact that abuse and trauma can have, left untreated; when your world is so colored by evils that are unspeakable, addiction seems reasonable.  When you have never been offered a choice in life, you might not recognize an option when it presents itself to you, forever sealing your fate in this walk.  I also saw the frightening world that mental illness can create when I worked with the homeless.  And that, is not something one can simply control.

Let us be slower to assume and judge, quick to sincere curiosity, and quicker still to compassion.

1 comment:

  1. And now I understand you as a person much better than I did before I read this. It is refreshing to realize that we are so different, and yet we stand so closely together.