Trade-Offs

it's the name of the game

Politics is all about trade-offs. Compromise. Concessions. Politicians make deals to gain support. Voters, a complex and complicated group, have to decide what is most important, what is their priority, what is their trade-off. Although it’s a serious game, it’s a game.

I can’t look at a news source or open my social media without being drawn into thinking about politics. On social media, I have expressed some of my opinions in ways, that I believe, allowed others to hold on to theirs. I’ve not tried to be persuasive, only thoughtful.

So, having more important things to address at this stage of my life, my last word on politics as I withdraw for a season. Whoever you are, whatever you believe about the candidates, you are simply wrong. Why? Because choosing a candidate in the present age is about trade-offs, at least if you are truly aware of the issues at stake. If you’re honest with yourself, you know your choice is wrong for some reason. Or, more dangerously, if you’ve chosen a candidate and you believe you’ve made no trade-offs, you are more delusional than the candidates themselves. At least they know, deep inside, of the compromises they’ve made.

It’s the whole “putting faith in man” scenario. It’s never worked out perfectly. Choose a candidate. Make it for the reasons you can live with.

End the Fear

I am fortunate because I have friends from diverse cultural backgrounds. However, I am remiss for my failures to consistently seek understanding of the life experiences — the trials and the celebrations — of those who are different from me. I don’t see such things as race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation as a barrier to prevent me from loving them. But perhaps the problem is that I just don’t see. I just don’t fully understand. That is a symptom of my privilege. On numerous occasions I have had to ask for patience and forgiveness as I’ve stumbled from a lack of sensitivity. Sensitivity is only a starting point. Each one of us must take action. That action should begin with a deepening of our relationships. And we must address our fear.
 
We have had too many tragedies triggered because of our “differences.” Whether it be skin color, religion, gender, or political persuasion, we need to understand that all of this is God’s creation. All the differences are part of God’s creativeness and are meant to bring us joy. Instead of joy, we are bringing fear to God’s party.
 
Terrible things have been happening. Some have been addressed. Some answers have come very slowly. Some answers seem impossible to find.
 
Violence is not one of those answers. Sadly, violence is part of the cycle that demands law and order. And law and order can go astray quickly in the face of fear. Those steps backward do not justify the end of law and order. That fear does not justify unequal treatment.
 
Today is a sad day in Dallas, Texas. Our hearts and our prayers are with that city, with the families who have empty chairs at their tables this morning, with the citizens who are enduring a time when fear seems to be the safest place because of the vigilance it brings.
 
But remember that yesterday was a sad day somewhere else — in Louisiana, in Minnesota, in Istanbul . . .
 
If we are to fully accept our roles as God’s children, we have to stop taking sides. We must seek relationship with those who see things differently and even those who adamantly disagree with us. If we don’t, we are left only with fear. No understanding. No blessed intimacy with others who can teach us so much about what God truly wants.
 
Please end the fear. Talk to people. All people. Pray for people. All people. Perhaps while we are praying, God will provide a holy space where we can make better decisions, choose better words, take a different course of action.
 
 
To those among my friends who this post offends or disturbs. I will not ask that you unfriend me or obliterate my blogsite from your internet, although that is your choice. It has become all too easy in this world to press that “unfriend” button. I would ask that you be respectful of me, however. I will be glad to talk with you about anything. Social media can be a wonderful place to bring understanding. However, it often lacks the context of that blessed moment when two people come together. Remember, Jesus specifically identified that space as a place he’ll join us.  Thanks in advance for listening to me, even if you disagree.

Hire a Thug

options for Christian voters

I received an email a few days back from an acquaintance. It was a forward, of course, of a message that had gone out to “reassure evangelical Christians” about recent endorsements from well-known figures within our faith community for Donald Trump. The theme, repeated over and over again, was that God is opening the door for us to hire a thug.

No, the word “thug” was never used. That would be too startling and upsetting. No, this is a direct quote:

Maybe God is trying to tell us something important- that now is not the time for a “nice Christian guy” or a “gentleman” or a typical Republican powder puff. Maybe now is the time for a natural born killer, a ruthless fighter, a warrior.

And some of you who are reading this might agree. That’s your choice.

I’ve heard all of the arguments in favor of the position taken in this recent email, including those “supported” by the Bible. I find it disquieting that none of that comes within the perspective of John 3:16.

I suppose all I’m saying here is that we live in a country where we have a lot of freedom, including that of voting for anyone we choose. Exercise that freedom.

I would also ask that you exercise that freedom in what you communicate. Please don’t dress up a thug in his Sunday suit and try to pass him off as God’s answer. Don’t pretend he’s representing our values when every other statement he makes screams otherwise.

Your choice this election year is a challenge. Vote. Support whichever candidate you believe will be the best President. But don’t use God as an excuse for your choices.

Rushing By

rip tides of the soul

There is a moment almost every day when I pause. Calm is about me. My mind is clear. And then, suddenly, but not without warning, I am pushed into the busy current of life and I see so much rushing by. Most often my urge to join that stream of action propels me forward in my life’s plan. But sometimes, whether from panic or a realization of how little energy reserve is available, I’m simply pulled out and away, another victim of a rip tide.

I know full well what I should do. Not unlike the strategies of a swimmer facing the strong fingers of an ocean’s rip tide, I should keep my head, check my bearings, and move in parallel with the path of intention I was suddenly snatched from. At some point, I will leave the influence of those things rushing by and be able to focus on where I should be and what I should be doing.

Too often these emotional and practical rip tides of the soul tear us away from what we know and what nurtures us in such a violent way that we lose hope of ever finding our way back. When those times come, when we feel ourselves pulled into the boiling sea of worry, anxiety, and busyness, we should take a momentary detour to realign ourselves with the shoreline where we can stand and navigate freely.

And, when our personal will and resolve are spent, we should take the hands of those who reach out to pull us to safety . . . if, for no other reason, to deepen our opportunity to be the one reaching out tomorrow.

Imagine

with a faint apology to John Lennon

When times get tough, we often turn to the words of a poet or a balladeer to give us hope, to soothe our angst, and sometimes, to crank us up. Many paint only a picture of an ideal. . . in essence, a dream. John Lennon gave us that in “Imagine.” Imagining away religion, patriotism, hunger and competition seemed to smooth away all of the ugliness of the world. After all, “with nothing to kill or die for” we certainly would live better lives, wouldn’t we? Imagine such a world as that.

image: Jean-Frederic Fortier/unsplash.com

If I’ve just trashed your favorite song of all time, please stay with me for a minute.

In the later verses of the song, John Lennon writes of bringing the world together and sharing the wealth of the world. While we can dream of a time when that would happen, the writer makes it unlikely by entrusting that exercise to humankind without a higher power.

A dream of that magnitude requires a vision and definite action. While dreams can burn softly like candles, only true vision fueled by process can ignite the fires that bring change and progress. Our prolific Beatle has a point here. Too often, action and progress, framed only in mortal idealism, give way to greed, lust, and attempts at domination. Imagine if there was none of that.

But that same action and progress, when formed in the image of One who is greater, brings about what Lennon is really seeking . . . Heaven on earth.

Imagine walking side by side with that One. Imagine sharing and building together. Imagine loving each other as God loves each of us. At the very least, it gives us something to “die for.”