Some Focus Would Be Good

Ten – count them, TEN – Republican presidential wanna-be’s will take the stage to debate this evening at 9 (EDT). And then there are seven – SEVEN – Republican presidential hopefuls who will appear earlier in the evening. They did not make the “Top Ten”, so they will participate in a “forum” at 5 PM, which is prime time for driving home, or getting dinner on the table, or grabbing a beer and reading the paper. I know it is early in the campaign game, but having this many candidates in one party makes me think things are terribly out of focus.

Or, maybe it’s just that Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show and his departure is making many folks feel out of sorts.

Or maybe it’s that 70 years ago the first atomic bomb was dropped on a city and we are still trying to see through the resulting residual cloud.

Or yet another possibility is the Catholic liturgical calendar which celebrates the Feast of The Transfiguration on this date. There were clouds and voices and dead people talking to Jesus on top of a mountain (which tends to be an oxygen-deprived environment) and a proposal to build shelters and instructions not to tell anyone until after resurrection had happened -maybe all of this has left me squinting for clarity.

Someone said to me recently that the church I pastor needs FOCUS – and the person who said it is a self-avowed sufferer of ADHD. When someone like that suggests the need for focus perhaps it is time to listen. Go focus yourself! I wanted to say to him, but thought better of it.

Some blame the internet and the proliferation of the mobile devices to which we are joined at the hip – or the earlobe – always looking for something else to take a picture of and something clever to post. They say the shortness of our attention span has been intensified by the practice of “surfing”. We flit from web site to web site, from one Youtbe video to the next. For the majority of people who look at a web page they stay less than 15 seconds. And people don’t want to look at what is called “evergreen content” – that is, information that is relevant for an extended period of time. No … they want NEWS – as it happens. And after it happens, they move on.

Maybe that is why there are seventeen Republican candidates for their party’s nomination – we can quickly move from one to the other. After all, we prefer to go wide rather than deep.

I’ve noticed our congress doesn’t like to fund things for more than several months at a time. So instead of actually governing, they are constantly catching up to the can they previously kicked down the road, only to have to kick it again. They just can’t focus long enough to actually pass a meaningful transportation bill. They know how to obsess, but that’s not the same thing as knowing how to focus.

Maybe it’s the cereal aisle – That’s it! Therein we find the extent to which we Americans struggle to focus. Wikipedia says there are 512 breakfast cereals. No wonder I have such a hard time focusing in that part of the grocery store! At this rate we may have as many candidates for president as there are breakfast cereals! I wonder how many Lindsey Grahams of sugar we can tolerate. If we aren’t careful we could all end up in a Santorum.

With Jon gone, who is going to provide the analysis and force us to think?

Will congress approve the deal put forth by the Obama administration in an effort to curb Iran’s nuclear program?

The resurrection is over; do we get it NOW?

Sometimes, when I am charged with getting cereal for the family, it all feels a bit overwhelming, so I just pick one. I hope that’s not the strategy we use when it comes to electing a president. It’s time to focus, people.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.