Three things: 1) The Angel speaking to the church in Laodicea has nothing good to say about being “luke warm“. 2) How we use words and our tongue can take us – and others straight to hell. 3) A life that is faithful is one that trods a narrow way.
One of the frustrating and blessed things about the Judeo-Christian Scripture is the nuance, the “either / or” quality, the refusal to allow any one exclusive perspective. The ancient texts are so different from today’s politics. It seems a politician can use their rhetoric to incite violence with impunity. Tom Friedman calls such rhetoric “playing with fire”. Balancing on the moderation of middle ground is seen as a weakness. “Extreme” is in; compromise is touted as a weakness rather than a strength.
Depending on whose side you are on, you allow your guy or gal to “walk back” what they said, to reinterpret threats, to re-cast invitations to foreign nations to spy on opponents, to re-frame verbiage suggestive of behavior we would put a kindergarten child in time out for. We force our leaders to make promises we know they can’t keep. We push them to assure us we won’t have to pay for college, health care, social services. Why, we want them to tell us there won’t be any estate tax (which there isn’t for something like 99.8% of the population), that we will bring jobs back (even the ones that simply don’t exist anymore). We criticize them for telling us the lies we make them tell us.
There is nothing “luke warm” about the present condition of American politics. “Fair and balanced” – what a joke! The only “balance” we want is the one that tilts in our direction.
So as not to conclude this piece on a “rant”, I confess that I go to Bible Study and worship and participate in Christian community in a church where many different sides of issues are expressed because I know I need balance. The teachings of Jesus simply don’t let anyone off the hook. They hold us together, in tension, in humility, in prayer. The fact that a full range of the theological spectrum is represented does not make us insipid. In fact, the strong – dare I say, extreme – views of individuals are represented in the context of the larger community, the diverse conversation that offers all of us hope.
Not to be too “christocentric”, but where have some of the current crop of potential leaders come from? Who trained them? What have we been doing in our faith communities, Christian or otherwise, that has resulted in the legitimization of the extreme? Are we going to be able to “walk back” the hatred, the destructive innuendo that makes the front page every day? If being a “successful business person” is what Donald Trump represents, then the marketplace has ethical fractures that are terminal. I don’t expect perfection from politicians; I do expect a modicum of civility.
And PARENTS – what are the sources you use for the ethics and morals you are teaching your children? People have to learn that being the ‘bully” is to be far less than their best self. It’s not a matter of being politically correct. It’s much more a matter of living together in community, of taking the words of Jesus seriously, of seeing the complexity inherent in our common existence. Things have to change. Our very lives are hanging in the balance.