Friday, January 15, 2010

On shared beliefs with morons


First of all, like any human being with feelings, I can't help but be saddened by what has happened in Haiti.  That so many lives can be lost in such short time is tragic.  That the government of Haiti has been in such chaos and turmoil for many years, thus diverting funds that could have made for safer buildings and better infrastructure that would have reduced the calamity is evidence of the unspeakable evil that permeates our world.  Think about it.  With all the complaints in the USA about the situation and response that was the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the death toll in Haiti is at least an order of magnitude bigger than Katrina.

And as a note: if you are able, skip a cheeseburger this week and give to help out.  Find a blood drive, pass on some money.  But give smartly: Red Cross Disaster relief, Samaritan's Purse, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, or the ABSC has a link to give.  Give through other organizations that you know! Disasters bring out the extremes in people---and some people are extremely wicked and will steal donations.  Give to a reputable organization. All of the above also will meet other disaster needs with overflow donations: if the situation in Haiti reaches a point that there is enough money or the money is being misused, they will be able to redirect to other disasters in other places, so you don't have to be concerned that you've given too much.

It's the best and worst that I want to address right now.  As always, when people start asking the question "Why do these things happen?" some people provide really bad answers.  We find ourselves cringing at the statements made by people that claim to have the beliefs we do.  The same thing happened after Katrina, 9/11, the tsunami in 2004, and many other disasters.  And then there are the inevitable complaints, rebuttals, denials, and disavowing of such statements.

We also have people that we share a majority of beliefs with, but then they say dumb things.  Really dumb ones.  Take those who are praying that President Obama dies or those that rejoice when abortionists are murdered for their murder of children. 

How do we handle such things?  Because, really, it's a hard road to navigate.  For example, I would agree that natural disasters happen because of sin.  Not, typically, any one person's or people group's sin, but because sin has corrupted this world.  Natural disasters are the normal forces of this world out of proportion: you need rain and wind, but not hurricanes.  Continental drift goes into sea-floor subduction and renewal of the earth's crust, but earthquakes are bad.  Yet it is not, at least typically, that God uses a massive calamity to bring judgment on a nation.

Why? Because Biblically, you're hard-pressed to make that point under the idea of the New Covenant through the blood of Jesus Christ.  It's about individual people brought together into the new holy nation under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, not about Haitians and Americans.  There are few disasters that strike only unrepentant humanity.

But about the people that will gladly lay blame and express their hatreds while claiming to agree with me: This is why I think we should all be much clearer and more definite about what we do and don't believe.  And be more careful who we associate with.  By extension, we should also learn to be more careful how we judge people by their groups.

For example, politically, there are some real useless human beings in the Republican Party.  Governor Mark Sanford comes to mind, and a few others.  While I think former Speaker Newt Gingrich has some good things to say, I also have difficulties with his ethics and various other things.  In all, while I agree generally with the wide group of Republicans, I can't simply choose to be happy with all Republicans.  Neither can I be unhappy with all Democrats, although it's much easier to do so.

Likewise with religious groups.  I personally have trouble separating Islamic fundamentalists that blow up buildings from Islam in general, but I would certainly like to separate whacky people like Pat Robertson and Wiley Drake from myself as a conservative Christian. 

What is to be done?  First and foremost: generally people have a visible role because it's given to them by the groups they claim to represent.  We Christians have given Pat Robertson a stage.  If we don't take it away, we have to live with him.  So, we must be much more cautious about creating superstars in our worlds.  When we hang the fate of our religious group, political group, or ideological movement on a small group of people, we're toast when they fail.

Second, we need to establish accountability as people rise through to lead us.  Pat Robertson gets to say what he wants because he answers to no one.  Sarah Palin can say what she wants because there is no one to question her.  As these people have risen, they should have been mandated to be part of groups to hold them accountable to the people they claim to speak for.

Finally, we need to disprove bad words with good action.  Note, that we don't disprove bad words with bad action.  That I think there are loose cannons on the political right doesn't mean that I will endorse bad ideas from the left just to prove they don't speak for me.  I will not participate in voodoo to prove I'm concerned for Haiti right now.  I will pray, I will scour our checkbook to see what we can give to help.

We cannot force people to shut up.  Freedom of speech includes the freedom to say offensive things, because you cannot entrust to others the authority to determine "offensive."  We can, however, live lives that show that people who talk this way and claim, for example, Christianity as their religion, don't fit with real, everyday Christians.  The problem isn't that Pat Robertson doesn't really speak for Christians (or for Christ).  Anybody could see that, if we as Christians would live and speak for Christ honestly.



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