I Harangue in Haste


It’s a media bias day.

I had breakfast to conservative complaints about the liberal bias in the media, then I had a little research period over lunch where I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable with the conservative bias in my religious news. Being a Christian moderate makes a certain amount of whiplash inevitable.

But that’s ok. It’s what I have instead of roller coasters.

I HATE roller coasters.

Here’s the thing: I keep reading all of these alarmist Christian reports about the lurking dangers of the Arab Spring and how it means terrible things for the persecuted church, and while I am 100% concerned about the persecuted church, there’s something unsettlingly political about the rhetoric that I don’t really appreciate. Some underlying assumption that the only way Christians will be safe in the Middle East is if the West can maintain some sort of controlling role there. That makes me pretty uncomfortable, because [personal theory alert] it seems to me that one of the major reasons Muslims don’t tend to be the biggest fans of Christians is that the West is still loosely synonymous with Christianity. And the West has done a significant number of unawesome things in the Middle East lately.

Although, admittedly, it’s way easier to rely on the Ishmael vs. Isaac theory of poor relations in the Middle East because then we don’t have to take any responsibility. It’s Abraham’s fault!


I’m not saying the problems in the Middle East are all our fault. That’s equally silly. I guess I’m just saying I wish it was easier to be a Christian and be an advocate for the persecuted church without getting funneled automatically into all the fear-mongering about “Muslim states.” I don’t see anywhere in the Bible that says our mission as believers should be to set up Christian governments around the world, but I do see lots of places that teach we should take care of the oppressed. In the Middle East, that might mean Christians. Here in the States, guess what? It might mean Muslims.

I don’t know if this makes it clearer or all a bit murkier, but my basic feeling is this: I want religion in my politics, but I don’t want politics in my religion.

I’m thinking more and more that if we want to be close to God, we should probably spend more time thinking about the things God is as opposed to the things God is not. God does not belong to a political party, so let’s be careful about getting too attached to those identities. God is not gendered, so let’s not waste too much time or teaching on that either. God is not a tribal or national deity, so let’s be wary of getting sucked into “Christian nation” thinking. And, my personal favorite, God neither sins nor ruminates on sin, so maybe it’s time for us all to evaluate what percentage of our spiritual energy is directed at feelings of guilt or judgment.

What would it look like if 90% of our energy was directed at doing good, loving others, and taking care of the commitments God gives us, while only 10% of that energy went to thinking about and dealing with sin?

Or maybe that’s already true for most of you. I don’t know. I never thought about it in terms of percentages before. Will have to keep an eye on myself and see how much emotional energy I expend on things.

Which is approximately 2 blocks from where all this started, but what can I say? Lunch breaks don’t always lead to the most organized of thinking.


Happy Friday, everybody. May all your hatches be battened and your weekends relaxed.


3 thoughts on “I Harangue in Haste

  1. I sympathize. I find myself in conversations with progressive friends who see Christians as persecutors (Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, and , I don’t know, JESUS, anyone?) and Muslims as victims (as if the 700 Club is a bigger threat to gay rights than the Taliban), and conservative friends who see Christians (even, inexplicably, American Christians) as victims and Islamists (and “other” liberals) as persecutors. And then I have friends who celebrate gray area over a couple of pints. I enjoy engaging in all three conversations, but the polarization in the first two perspectives is frustrating.

  2. Heh. Just try being an ultra-conservative who recently realized that Jesus probably MEANT that “love your enemies” thing and the part about his kingdom’s NOT being of this world (kind of precludes its being America and all). To the conservatives, I’m one of those dreaded pacifist “Hate America” people. And to liberals, well, I dress like a Mennonite, what could be scarier? (And yet am NOT a Mennonite–they wouldn’t be able to swallow the Zumba.) Anyway, I’m learning that the whole “us and them” thing is pretty pointless. I just have to forgive people their judgement and try to love them anyway, which is sort of what you came to at the end of your post, too.

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