April 28, 2017

Hey America…We’re All Here

I haven’t written anything political in a while, but I find myself wondering….

Are we really as stupid in this country as the main stream media make us seem to be?

After more than two and a quarter centuries, are Americans really as clueless about their country as we seem to be listening to ourselves every night on television? Are we really as shockingly naive about America as we seem to be in the comment threads of so many political web pages and call in programs?

Do we not know that…..that we’re ALL here in America?

All of us.

Do Christians really not know that there are approaching 20% of Americans who claim no religious faith at all?

Do the irreligious and the atheists really not know that 60% of Americans are religious, and about 40% of Americans are religious enough to go to a religious service once a week?

Are reporters really amazed that Pentecostals- like Governor Palin- pray with intensity, talk about the devil, ask God to do miracles and generally have a vital and visible Christian experience?

Do we actually have religion reporters in America who are stunned to hear that Roman Catholics believe in the teachings of the church, aren’t seeking to overthrow the pope, don’t plan to ordain women priests and aren’t reinventing Christianity according to the latest polls?

Do the media actually not understand that evangelicals of every type are overwhelmingly pro-life, anti-feminist and anti-gay marriage? Do they not know that evangelicals believe they have the truth in the Bible and that Jesus is the way to heaven?

Do Christians not know that a substantial chunk of their own numbers aren’t pro-life, are pro-feminism and promote gay marriage? Yes, there are Christians who are Democrats!

Are there really people out there who don’t know that America is almost evenly split in many places between conservatives and progressives? And that some Americans haven’t made up their minds what they are and probably won’t any time soon.

Is someone actually surprised that the diversity in our country includes families with four children who keep the fifth one, even when he has Down’s Syndrome?

Is someone actually surprised that somewhere on some university campus there’s someone who will advocate the aborting of Down Syndrome children as a moral obligation?

Are there people who actually think every conservative agrees with Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly?

Are there people who believe that every liberal agrees with Al Franken or Chris Matthews?

I know there are some people who still haven’t gotten ahold of racial and cultural diversity in America, but isn’t it about time they did?

American is no longer white and black, Protestant and Catholic, Democrats and Republicans. It is far more diverse than any two options can ever describe.

We’re not divided into the good guys and the bad guys. Every election isn’t about the triumph of Christian civilization or the end all we believe and hold dear.

We’re a quilt of diverse culture, a stew of diverse politics, an almost endless collection of points of view and the factors that make us see the world differently.

We can’t make everyone else shut up, change their minds or go away.

Writing a great column, speech, blog post or sermon doesn’t end the discussion. Publishing a book or doing an expose’ on CNN doesn’t end the competing opinions on everything.

Yelling at the television won’t change anything. Surrounding yourself with people who agree with you, withdrawing to a homeschool and forming your own church won’t take away the diversity of America.

At Columbia U, Iranian President Ahmadinejad could say there are no gays in Iran, and smile as if saying makes it so. In America, we should know better than that kind of nonsense.

There’s no use in imagining that we are all going to be Obama supporters or McCain supporters, Christians or secularists, atheists or superstitious simpletons.

Some of the best and worst people in the country have beliefs exactly like you. Some of the best and worst people in this country are completely different from you. And they’re all here.

We’re all here. All the big, diverse, irreconcilable mess of us. And we aren’t going to move away or go away. Arguments won’t make us vaporize. Being witty and snarky won’t change people and their beliefs. Big conventions and Youtube videos won’t end the discussion. Million dollar ads aren’t making the world into your mirror.

America IS diversity. That’s our contribution to history.

We know the other guy is there. The other guy is us. All of us. We are a diverse nation that doesn’t kill the other half of the country every four years. We hand over the keys to the White House and the nuclear bombs to the other party, and we all go back to work.

We defend the other person’s right to be different, even if it deeply offends us.

We are that diversity, and we accept it as being the very soul of America.

So could we stop talking to one another as if the loudest, angriest, most outraged will suddenly get the power to make everyone else change their mind, change their politics or just go away? Can we stop acting as if the rest of America is an illusion to be chased away with political discourse turned up to eleven?

We’re all here, and that’s what America is all about.

Comments

  1. One of my English professors at Georgetown College in Kentucky told a story (perhaps apocryphal) about two “old birds” talking at a crossroads general store. One said of the country, “I guess it takes all kinds.” To which the other replied, “It don’t take ’em, but we got ’em.”

    Yes, we’re all here, and so is God.

  2. Greg DeVore says:

    A couple of thoughts stimulated by your post. I think people are lying to polsters about their religous observance. I do not believe that 40% of the country is in church on Sunday or synagouge on Saturday or mosque on Friday. I think its much, much less. At least out here in California if 10% showed up on Sunday there would not be enough pews in the state to hold them.
    Secondly, some Christians who vote democratic are pro-life and anti-gay marriage. In the LCMS I know democrats, libertarians,socialists, republicans, greens and everything else. Almost everyone is pro-life and against gay marriage. They just see other issues as more salient in their voting.

  3. “We’re not divided into the good guys and the bad guys. Every election isn’t about the triumph of Christian civilization or the end all we believe and hold dear.”

    Growing up in a conservative, small town church and then going to college in a big urban city (less then an hour away) really made me aware of the polarization within the Church.

    This way of thinking has forced me right out of the political debate into a complete state of apathy.

    Excellent piece, as always, Michael.

    Grace and Peace from the One not defined by red or blue!

  4. Chad Winters says:

    Unfortunately, the decline of journalism into “media” has helped feed a mentality of 2 minute shocking exposee’s that are really nothing like their portrayal in the media. Unfortunately, most of don’t know usually know enough about the topic to see the distortion.

    The few times a “media” story has applied to those things I am well-taught in, I have been amazed at how little it resembles the real world concept. And ashamed about all the stuff I just believed because they said so and I didn’t know better.

    We’re amazed at the caricature of Christianity others see us as….and yet when religion intersects with media…reporters don’t ask careful thinkers like J.P. Moreland or Dan Wallace or Greg Koukl, etc. They just ask Joel Osteen or Falwell, etc., what we think.

    As a physician I cringe every time they discuss the latest medical breakthrough that isn’t or has been standard care for 5-10 years.

  5. Thank you so much for writing this!

  6. What advice would you have for pastors who think exactly like this but see no way to say these things without being condemned by the culture warrior types who hold sway in so many churches? Or who feel that getting into discussions about these matters only leads to fruitless discussions, debates and arguments that can never truly be resolved? Is it the place of the pastor to deal with these matters, and where is it on the priority list?

  7. Scott Miller says:

    You nailed it on the head. People surround themselves with people like them.
    You ask “do people really believe that…?”
    Of course they do! Or they want to. Christians, especially here in the Midsection, really do believe that you can’t be one of their flock and not be pro-Republican. My friend, who is a Democrat, gets wide-eyed looks of horror when he states his leanings.

    The media believes what they preach. They seem genuinely shocked that Obama is not widely revered. They act like they don’t “get” the red states.

    You ever been to Massachusetts? Most of the stop signs have been spray painted “Stop Bush”.

    Although we are a melting pot, our children are taught to revile history. They don’t know their diverse origins. And they too surround themselves with people like them.

  8. Mike, I know I’m not Michael, but I gotta say, “Say it anyway.” I challenge the concept of a culture mind-set frequently. I’ve lost some folks, and been worried the I would leave my family homeless. It comes down to what you’re more concerned with, offending the “culture warriors” or God.

    If you think what you have to say is true, and you can make a decent Biblical case for it, don’t back away from it. In the end we pastors, like all people, answer to Jesus.

  9. Thanks for this reminder, Michael. Just this morning I perused the NYT and came across this piece that is also a reminder of every president’s most far reaching task — nominating Supreme Court sitters.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/28/magazine/28law-t.html?em

    Whomever is elected in just a few weeks — HOORAY — will hold sway for four (or, God forbid, eight) years then he’ll be gone. His court nominees, however, will be with us for 30-50 years.

    Whatever ones color (I’m so far right, they haven’t assigned a color for me), don’t let your view of abortion, marriage, economy, war divert your from the most important role of a president.

    Dan in Reno

  10. Sarah Palin is a Pentecostal?……..thats is dope….truly dope. Palin is the whole package…..sexy, smart, and charismatic. Peace out.

  11. Rob Lofland says:

    Living in Texas I get to see this from several perspectives but mainly these two.
    1. My friends and relatives are stunned that anyone anywhere is actually considering voting for Democrats and believe the election will be a Republican landslide. They don’t believe it’s true.
    2. When watching or listening to any national media they (the media types and “entertainers”) are equally as stunned and amazed that there are these gun-toting, superstitious neanderthals out here in the waste lands than don’t fall down and worship at the feet of the more enlightened progressives of the East and West coasts. The derision is caustic.
    Both views would be equally amusing if so much rancor were not caused by them.

  12. Rob Lofland

    Living in Texas I get to see this from several perspectives but mainly these two.
    1. My friends and relatives are stunned that anyone anywhere is actually considering voting for Democrats and believe the election will be a Republican landslide. They don’t believe it’s true.
    2. When watching or listening to any national media they (the media types and “entertainers”) are equally as stunned and amazed that there are these gun-toting, superstitious neanderthals out here in the waste lands than don’t fall down and worship at the feet of the more enlightened progressives of the East and West coasts.

    Thats hilarious. Almost as funny as a former NY’er friend of mine claiming Jesus was liberal, and that he can’t believe pastors or even serious Christians could be republican because as Christians you are “supposed to be compassionate”.

  13. >>>Sarah Palin is a Pentecostal?……..thats is dope….truly dope. Palin is the whole package…..sexy, smart, and charismatic. Peace out.

    and a moose killer too…whoa!

  14. I guess I’m really starting to be the contrairian around here.

    The way I see it, we all live in America but we do not all believe America is a good country. If you say you love your wife yet want to change her height, weight, how she laughs, the way she talks, her opinions do you really love her? What if you feel that way about your country?

    Both sides are guilty of this to some extent. Freedom is the cornerstone of this country. Freedom to succede, to fail, to associate with who we want, to say what we want, read what we want, watch what we want to follow whatever religion (or none at all) we want.

    At this point in our history, the Democrats want to choose who we can associate with,what religions should be expressed publically, to punish those who succede with high taxes and give it to those who fail or never even tried, and limit what we can say with “hate crimes” legislation.

    The Republicans want to take away our freedom to associate with who we want, seem to want to make laws enforce Christianity and marginalize (though not punish) all other religions, regulate what we can read and watch, encourage locust like success with little or no help for the failures.

    I could probably go through each ammendent in the Bill of Rights and point out where each party is trying to walk over it.

    If you tell me you want to kill your neighbor, ask me for a loan to go buy the gun to do it, am I complicit when you go shoot and kill your neighbor? What if you tell me specifically that you want the money to buy the gun to kill your neighbor?

    Is abortion any different? If you provide support for people who are open about the fact that they want to kill unborn babies aren’t you complicit in those murders?

    While we may all be Americans we are NOT all on the same side. We are all after what’s best for us and those like us or seems to be best. When was the last time you heard an elected official say “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” and mean it?

    DD

  15. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    At Columbia U, Iranian President Ahmadinejad could say there are no gays in Iran, and smile as if saying makes it so. — IMonk

    It’s not just “saying makes it so.” Iran is gay-free for the same reason (and similar methods) the Third Reich was Jew-free.

    Grace and Peace from the One not defined by red or blue! — Jordan

    You DO know Obama’s starting to get nicknamed “The One”, don’t you? (I believe it started out as a Matrix reference directed at his highly-vocal fanboys.)

    We’re amazed at the caricature of Christianity others see us as….and yet when religion intersects with media…reporters don’t ask careful thinkers like J.P. Moreland or Dan Wallace or Greg Koukl, etc. They just ask Joel Osteen or Falwell, etc., what we think. — Chad Winters

    Osteen or Falwell?
    Not Fred Phelps?

    My friends and relatives are stunned that anyone anywhere is actually considering voting for Democrats and believe the election will be a Republican landslide. — Rob Loftland

    Encountering something similar here in SoCal, behind the Orange Curtain. Reminds me of the Mackinista who witnessed to me (in the mid-Nineties) how Apple WOULD drive Microsoft into bankruptcy by the year 2000. When pointed out this wasn’t realistic, his face turned purple, his eyes bugged out, and the screams of “DIE, HERETIC!” began.

    It’s not just the USSR and its descendants who made Politics into a religion. This election is actually following a Pre-Mil End-of-the-World script (at least in mythic overtones):

    Since 2000, through Bush Derangement Syndroms and other Conspiracy Theories, Bush has been cast as The Antichrist, and his time in office as the Great Tribulation, a time of unrelenting darkness.

    After years of dystopia after dystopia, you either go nihilistic or suicidal. Or look to a Man on the White Horse to Save You from the unrelenting darkness — Messiah Politics.

    Enter one Barack Obama, charismatic Chicago Machine pol. Just as Bush has been cast as The Antichrist, so Obama has stepped into the role of the Coming Christ figure who will cast Bush the Beast and all his works into the Lake of Fire and usher in The Kingdom.

  16. Thank you for the reminder that, as much as some of us try to see politics and the world as either red or blue, reality exists in infinate shades of purple.

  17. “Yelling at the television won’t change anything.”

    Yea, but it does make me feel better… 😉

  18. Patrick Rowe says:

    “yelling at the television does not change things”??? And all this time I thought I was participating in the American democratic experiment.

    “Is it the place of the pastor to deal with these matters, and where is it on the priority list?”-Mike

    No, the role of the Pastor is to shepherd the flock the Lord has placed him over and teach Biblical truth. The Pastor should encourage us to participate in our community and pray for our leaders as scripture commands us to but not how to participate. As far as priority: preach/teach the Gospel, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, heal/comfort the sick…, it is way down the line. Our Lord did not tell the Centurion or the tax collector what his politics should be. By the by, I am about as far right wing as you can get if you are into name calling and grouping.

  19. Stellar post, and a nice reminder in this age of people shoving their personal causes in your face via the Internet.

  20. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Do we actually have religion reporters in America who are stunned to hear that Roman Catholics believe in the teachings of the church, aren’t seeking to overthrow the pope, don’t plan to ordain women priests

    Okay, the term “woman priest” is one of those fingernails-on-the-chalkboard screeches with me.

    English already HAS have a feminine form of the word “priest”: PRIESTESS.

  21. Bart M,

    If she kills moose I think thats kind of cool. I prefer women who are on the outgoing side.

  22. Holy crap!

    I just found the blog post to end the discussion. This one! 🙂