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.
I’ve always wanted to be a great thinker. Unfortunately, I have discovered that it requires me to be more contemplative.
photo credit: Matthew Wiebe/unsplash.com
Spending time raking through my thoughts is not always my idea of a good time. In fact, at the end of a trying day I often just go to bed and flip that big switch marked “I don’t want to think about it any more.” The great thing is that God made our brains to restore and renew themselves so some sorting and other helpful things happen when I’m asleep. I’ve often thought that I am much more intellectually effective when I’m asleep. Was it not for my snoring, I think that others would agree.
I do want to encourage contemplation — both in my self and others. Watching political debates and “person-on-the-streets” interviews during the last few months has convinced me that most of us don’t do enough in terms of contemplation. Instead, we use our most primal instincts — those of fear and satisfaction of our basic desires — to take a position and dedicate our very being to it. Some of those positions go beyond just being. Some of them will require our very souls.
I saw a meme on the internet this morning. It went something like this:
The Case for Contemplation
The dead are unaware that they are dead. Their existence continues. The consequences of their deaths are felt only by those around them. In that way, striking similarities exist between those who have died and those who fail to think.
We all face tough decisions. It will take an effort. But let’s all be more contemplative.
It is always my hope that I will do better in a new year. Better diet, more exercise, less sin, more friends, and a lot more family.
Yet, I never seem to get there.
Pounds cling to my body, chances to stretch and to strengthen are too often left by the wayside, I do what I want — even when I don’t really want it, I sit alone and I think about me too much.
I’m excited about a brand new year. Despite my failings to improve in my 60+ years, I still have hope. In fact, in many ways I have done better year after year at many of these resolutions. It’s just that I have had such a long way to travel — and the path stretches out in front of me for quite a ways.
As I age, I’m becoming more and more aware of the danger of emphasizing SELF-improvement over a joyous, focused effort to walk closely with God.
Better times are often less a product of what we avoid and more the result of what we actively pursue.
That’s where we should be headed this year. No doubt, we may veer from that course from time to time. But with eyes trained on Him, we can’t help but do better.
I have to admit that there are times that I would like to close down my social media accounts. To bend a phrase of Winston Churchill, “Never was so much bad said about so few by so many.” It is the ease and spontaneity of social media that makes it so great and so damaging — all at once. In fact, observing the rancor and the vile ideas that are often promoted, I have found myself becoming socially medium.
“Socially medium” is the online equivalent of the passive bystander — quietly observing the mayhem of a moment and then slipping unnoticed into the crowd.
I wonder how many of us are out there being socially medium.
Don’t hear this as a call to join the boisterous inanity of those who attribute evil to practically everything. And, you know who you are. Perhaps we all should be thinking about who we are and what we stand for and make sure that we are, indeed, standing.
I know. Being socially medium keeps us out of the controversy and safe from the attacks of others. But being socially medium also allows us to simply not think and never do if we let it become our standard.
A step away from being socially medium takes us to a place where we think, where we explore new ideas and perspectives, and where we become curious. Dialog builds relationships. Relationships build communities. Communities, when bonded over care and concern for others, become the birthing place of all manner of goodness.
Care to join me as I think more, explore more, and feed my curiosity?
This morning, I relived a special feeling when Toto’s “Africa” fed through my earphones. Its signature lines about the great continent bring fond memories. In just a couple of weeks, it will be one year from the date six incredible people allowed me to join them on an adventure to Rwanda and Kenya. And even though we spent many hours together preparing for our trip, it was the trip itself that set our relationships in a framework that can only be viewed as remarkable and led to our claim to be “the Africa family.”
In regard to the song, I should note that we never heard live drums echoing in the night, nor did we see Kilimanjaro. Our closest parallel to the imagined journey portrayed in the lyrics was our time on the Serengeti. Even those rains eluded us. We preceded the rainy season by a couple of weeks.
Still, as I listened to the melody cascade over the distinctive drum track, I came face-to-face with special moments. Quiet conversations were frequent. Laughter was a major feature of every single day. What I remember most deeply is the feeling of comfort I had when I was with my Africa family. Thousands of miles from home, that little group became my touchpoint.
When you experience a time of life with a close-knit group of friends, you encounter not only your own feelings, but are immersed in the perspectives and emotions of those around you. I believe that my memories of this particular group of people will always bring me comfort. Thanks Betty, Allison, Robyn, Aaron, Dan, and Malcolm! You changed me.
So, to my Africa family, I want to say “thank you” for sharing that incredible journey. But, more importantly, thanks for opening your lives to me. Over time and the separation of distance, our family will lose some of its familiarity. I hope that you will never lose the feeling of community that was created. I know I never will.