It’s one of those soggy days in southern Ohio that presages autumn. It’s also one of those days where my mind reels from a whirlwind of small thoughts, many inspired by the political season now upon us. So consider today a showcase. Maybe one of these will grow up and become a bigger post someday.
- I’ve been thinking a lot about silence. (I guess if you perceive silence as a friend, you HAVE the ability to think.) If “Be still and know that I am God” is one of the hallmark verses of the Old Testament, what does it say about our ability to know God that we fill our days with noise and a blur of activity? I find it strange that I know adults, not children, who confess that they can’t sit in silence for a half hour without squirming and whining about it.
- One other verse that strikes me as unknown in America 2008 is “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” If we treat fellow Christians who disagree with us like the spawn of hell, how is it possible that any of us could muster even a mustard seed of love for our genuine enemies? And why is it that we are so quick to disagree angrily yet so slow to pray for opponents? Notice, too, that I use the word opponents. It’s a long road from opponents to enemies. Someone please invite me to the next prayer meeting wherein Christians spend an hour praying for their enemies. I sadly suspect I’ll need a very expensive plane ticket to get there.
- If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, why is it that American Evangelicals seem to have no concept of what it means to practice peace or work as ambassadors on behalf of it? Time and again, it seems to me that Evangelicals who discuss political issues are quick to include that they are “for the war effort,” yet NEVER, EVER say they are “for the peace effort.” Does a peace effort even exist in American churches outside of dead, liberal mainline denominations and a handful of Quakers?
- Every year, the comment that “America is a Christian nation” loses more of its cachet. Consider that four people out of five in this country self-label as Christians and then ask a critical question: What would our nation look and act like if those four out of five were replaced by Christians from Palestine circa 70 AD? Am I the only one believes the difference in practice and influence would be a startling one?
- What is the goal of an education? For much of the history of our country it was to create adults with a high, lasting understanding of civic responsibility. In that, education was never viewed as self-serving, but as a necessary means to strengthen society and the body politic. Now it’s viewed as only a pathway to greater amounts of personal income. Is it any wonder then that our nation is in trouble economically, socially, morally, and spiritually? When George Barna polls Evangelicals and finds that a greater percentage are worried about getting their kids into a prestigious college than ensuring they know Christ, then the wheels have not only fallen off the last vestiges of Christian education in this country, but the entire vehicle has burst into hellish flames.
- It’s bizarre to me that people seem to be baffled by the denominational affiliation of Sarah Palin. Since when were the Assemblies of God considered to be a fringe group? This is what happens when all your political pundits are lapsed Episcopalians or Presbyterians-in-name-only.
- An independent is running in the 2nd Congressional District in Ohio, my district. This has long been considered one of the most Republican districts in the entire country. Republican candidates have in the past won this district with nearly 80 percent of the vote. This has not been the case recently as the GOP has consistently let conservative voters down. In fact, when a real alternative was offered to the GOP incumbent now in office, game-playing by party reptiles snuffed out his candidacy. This is just part of the reason why I will be voting for David Krikorian (I). I think many other people will be voting for him also. That an independent has received the endorsement of the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police is astonishing to me in these days of party politics. The irony is that the GOP alternative candidate who was torpedoed by the GOP bigwigs in town had consistently garnered the Cincy FOP’s endorsement in the past in the local offices he held.
- More than anything else politically, I long to see genuine orators and statesmen return to lead our country in the days ahead. I believe they will not be these men and women of privilege, these millionaires we keep electing, but average Joes and Janes of principle and conviction. Those people are out there. We just need to stop voting for the ones who keep them down. I think that every Christian in America needs to stop supporting parties and start support worthy candidates. If that means abandoning long-held party affiliations, then we must. Character counts, and too many people in office today are sorely lacking it.
With the local forecast for the next five days filled with clouds and rain, I suspect that I’ll be doing more thinking in the days to come.
What are you thinking?
12 thoughts on “Thoughts for a Rainy September Friday”
Dan, you might be interested in this group.
I stumbled across it while searching for one of my old college professors, Dr. Paul Alexander. On his page (http://www.pcpf.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=128&Itemid=46) there is a link to an article he wrote called “Spirit Empowered Peacemaking: Toward a Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship.” It really is excellent.
Interesting link. I checked it out.
I couldn’t help but think of “Blazing Saddles” when I read that line…
Either that’s a compliment for being able to mimic a classic movie accurately OR it’s a poke for purple writing!
Thanks for sharing those thoughts. These last couple of weeks during the conventions have been troubling to me in many ways. This idea of loving our enemies and praying for our opponents has been the theme reverberating in my heart during this season. It really does seem to be a foreign concept. Understandably, it can be a real struggle, but last week when I questioned one of these would be christian pundits on his caustic tone toward a political “opponent” he wrote another scathing post on the virtues of being an arrogant, caustic christrian, and continued posting in the same vain using scripture to justify sinful attitudes that God says he hates. All in the name of politics in the name of God. We have to really guard our hearts from this sort of thing, especially during election season when emotions run hot.
Like I have said in past posts, people would rather be right than loving. They’ll do anything they can to show how smart they are, but won’t lift a finger to be gracious. That’s nothing but pride and self-centeredness.
Just a short comment regarding silence. Every year I attend a Catholic (I’m not Catholic myself) retreat at the Manresa Retreat Center in Convent, Louisiana. Almost three days without talking, without TV, without radio, just silence under the oaks. It’s run by the Jesuits and retreatants practice the “Spiritual Exercises” of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
While I’m part of a group of 100 men, I’m essentially alone with God. A wonderfully refreshing, spiritual experience. Highly recommended to Catholic and Protestant alike.
Until you’ve experienced the joys of silence, you’ve missed out on one the great things our Lord has for us.
People who are not comfortable with silence are ultimately not very deep. You can take that reality to the bank.
My mother and I took my little nephew for a day on the town today as my younger brother and his girlfriend held a yard sale. When I asked him if he wanted to go “night night” or “take a nap,” he always would say, “No,” even before he fell fast asleep on the way home. Before he went to sleep, his activity level spurted, as most children’s do when they use more energy to try to stave off tiredness. Thirty minutes of silence cause adults to squirm and whine, too, before they fall asleep from doing too much.
The Word of God instructs us to pray for the peace of where we live. But most politically minded prayers tend to talk about judgment, not peace.
I am against the war in Iraq. I want the insurgents to surrender. Let’s have a peace movement indeed, where we implore those who fight against America to lay down their arms. That would lead to peace, too, right? Why do peace movements almost always take issue with America and not so much with America’s enemies? (Because most peace activists know, and will admit, that they would be assassinated in the Middle East, and/or, at the least, their words would fall on deafer ears there than here.)
“Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this” (Eccl. 7:10 KJV). It seems these days are worse than those days because, as kids, we had little concept of how bad the world was back then. It was just as evil then as it is today. Indeed, it was just as evil after the Fall as it is now. Only now, we have the technology to spread various sins and their grotesqueries faster. Indeed, if America ever was a Christian nation with high moral standards, why did we need two Great Awakenings, Azusa Street, etc.?
The goal of an education is to get as much money out of my pocket and the pockets of taxpayers as possible while providing as little value as possible. I am taking classes I probably will never use in my probable career path. I surmise that I am forced to take these classes just so colleges and professors can rake in more dough. If they really gave the student body a choice, most of us would take as few classes as we thought prudent to receive the education we need.
If Palin were a confessional Episcopalian in the Anglican Communion under an African bishop; or if she were a Reformed Presbyterian with ties to charismatic renewal groups, she still would be cast as a fringe lunatic. Indeed, if she believes God’s Word is true, she is fringe to the left-wing media and probably to most Americans.
More genuine Christians need to run for office.
Not sure if this relates to the posting, but I wonder if Abraham Lincoln would be as outraged at abortion as he was over slavery. Because it was the issue of slavery that ultimately provided the impetus to go for him to aim for the White House and stamp the practice out, for good. I suppose one main difference between abortion and slavery is that there was a heavy regional component to slavery, which helped divide the Union from the Confederacy. Although, keep in mind that the Civil War was never fought over the issue of slavery.
To deflect one potential criticism, no I don’t think abortions will drop to zero if the law changes. Slavery still exists in parts of the world, including the U.S., though definitely not the way it once did. Perhaps with a change in the abortion law, the whole option of an abortion will not even come across people’s minds, people who want to obey the law (and have a respect for human life).
Old Old Dire Dan: “Does a peace effort even exist in American churches outside of dead, liberal mainline denominations and a handful of Quakers?”
I dunno. But what constitutes a “peace effort” in your view? Please tell us who are so ignorant.
However, in explaining things, do avoid flighty abstractions and do make specific proposals involving real-world countries and conflicts. There are a lot of mean, nasty people out there. What happens when some of them really do want to kill lots and lots of people?