“Evangelicals are not alone in shifting their view of the role moral character should play in choosing political leaders. Between 2011 and last year, the percentage of Americans who say politicians who commit immoral acts in their private lives can still behave ethically in public office jumped to 61 percent from 44 percent, according to a Public Religion Research Institute/Brookings poll. During the same period, the shift among evangelicals was even more dramatic, moving from to 72 percent from 30 percent, the survey found.”
Cynicism is easy.
Cynicism is toxic.
Cynicism is deceptive.
A cynic believes they have corralled all of reality into their own little brain and determined that things are bleak indeed. There is, however, a very big problem. No one can know all reality, except God. And God tells us that a mark of being a Christian is hope.
So, since no one is omniscient, no one has the right to be cynical. There are all kinds of realities the cynic does not know about that would change their pessimistic outlook.
“We gain awareness of ourselves and others from setbacks and difficulties; we get used to a world that is not always about us; and those who do not have to cope with that are brittle, weak, unable to endure contradiction, convinced of the necessity of always having one’s own way. The rich kids I met in college were flailing as though they wanted to find walls around them, leapt as though they wanted there to be gravity and to hit ground, even bottom, but parents and privilege kept throwing out safety nets and buffers, kept padding the walls and picking up the pieces, so that all their acts were meaningless, literally inconsequential. They floated like astronauts in outer space.”
The rest is here (HT: My sister Lisa)
Sadly, my piece in The Huffington Post from seven years ago is still relevant:
I resonate with these words:
“Whoever meditates on the mystery of his own life will quickly realize why only God, the searcher of the secrets of the heart, can pass final judgment. We cannot judge what we have no access to. The self is a swirling conflict of fears, impulses, sentiments, interests, allergies, and foibles. It is a metaphysical given for which there is no easy rational explanation. Now if we cannot unveil the mystery of our own motives and affections, how much less can we unveil the mystery in others? That is, as we look into ourselves, we encounter the mystery of our own, the depths of our own selfhood. As we sing things like ‘Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings within and fears without, O Lamb of God, I come.’ And having recognized the mysteries that dwell in the very depths of our own being, how can we treat other people as if they were empty or superficial beings, without the same kind of mystery?”
The rest is here:
The eminent Catholic scholar, Michael Novak, has died. His quiet genius influenced many of the more popular names you may know. In any case, there is a nice tribute to him below.
One of the best quotes from him on the possibility of humans creating some utopia: “To know oneself is to disbelieve in utopia. To seek realism is to learn mercy.”
Eventually, Wallace said his father considered his life’s greatest victory to be not his four terms as governor or the millions of presidential votes he secured around the country, but his faith and relationship with God.
After the assassination attempt, Wallace wrote to the gunman, Arthur Bremer.
“He told him that he loved him and he had forgiven him. And he told Arthur Bremer if you’ll ask our lord and savior Jesus Christ into your heart, we’ll be together in heaven,” Wallace said.
“He told me once, ‘If I can’t forgive him, the Lord won’t forgive me.’ ”
Let’s get one thing quickly out of the way. I believe homosexuality is contrary to God’s design. I also believe marriage is between one man and one woman.
The legalization of homosexual marriage to some degree makes me feel like Marshall McLuhan who went to movies not to watch the movie, but to observe how other people watch movies.
Some good things have been said by Christian leaders. Unfortunately, there are too many other Christians depressed over what all this portends for America. This declinist narrative focuses like a laser beam on how the sin of homosexuality is to blame for a myriad of societal ills.
My concern may be best stated by using an illustration. Imagine that you want to start a landscape company. You eagerly knock on your neighbors’ doors and announce the new venture. The responses you receive range from amusement (“you can’t be serious”) to outright anger. Why? The answer is simple. Your yard is terribly overgrown and quite the eye sore. You’ve received regular warnings from the Homeowner’s Association.
I’m not a cynic about the church, even here in America. It is God’s primary means of accomplishing His will. Some of the best people I know go to church on a regular basis. And that includes some pastors!
However, I do have grave concerns about our laser-like focus over the horrors of legalizing homosexual marriage. Yes, we need to say something, but I’m afraid our quickly cutting to the chase on this issue leaves many important things unsaid.
My suggestion would go more along these lines:
We believe homosexuality is a sin. We also believe that gluttony, gossip, adultery, sex outside of marriage, racism, unscrupulous business practices, the love of money, divorce, and a whole host of other things are sin. Unfortunately, we have not done a very good job in communicating a comprehensive view of sin. We have been selective. Too many times we have been motivated by fear. We have avoided addressing certain sins for fear our giving at church will plummet. Too many of us have come across as both hating the sin of homosexuality and the homosexual. We could go on with other specifics, but hopefully you get the point. Our selective outrage has made us not act like Jesus. We have been rather poor at modeling the “grace and truth” approach of Jesus.
In our quest to proclaim the righteousness standards of God, I’m afraid our selective outrage presents a gospel which is no longer the gospel. Consider another illustration. Picture that you are driving a car. In the passenger seat is a non-Christian. You tune into your favorite radio station. The problem is that you are not fully tuned in. You are so accustomed to the static that you fail to hear it. You turn to your non-Christian friend and expectantly ask what he thinks about the “amazing” music. Surprisingly to you, he is not impressed. You are baffled by his lackluster response but your habitual listening to music cum static has dulled your ears.
I’m afraid many Christians in America love listening to music cum static and therefore think it worth telling others about. Our penchant for focusing on some sins and not others (especially those which are common in the church) has made us tone deaf to what we believe are courageous and prophetic pronouncements, but could more accurately be labelled Pharisaical.
During my years of doing radio interviews, I had the chance to interview Cal Thomas. Thomas was one of the major leaders in the Moral Majority. I was interviewing Thomas on a book he co-authored with fellow Moral Majority leader, Ed Dobson. The title gives away the thrust of what the authors were trying to address: Blinded by Might: Why the Religious Right Can’t Save America. It was a courageous and candid confession of zeal gone awry. Among other things, the Moral Majority would purposely give prominence to certain social issues knowing these would increase their financial giving.
I’ve been reading through various statements on the recent ruling about homosexual marriage by the Supreme Court. In the pages of Christianity Today Mark Galli reflects the tone that should be more widespread in the Christian church:
Another temptation now is to point the finger at the forces—political, social, philosophical, spiritual—arrayed against the church and its moral teaching. Without denying the reality of “principalities and powers” (Eph. 6:12), we do well to ponder this: What actions and attitudes have we imbibed that contribute to our culture’s dismissing our ethics? Our homophobia has revealed our fear and prejudice. Biblical inconsistency—our passion to root out sexual sins while relatively indifferent to racism, gluttony, and other sins—opens us to the charge of hypocrisy. Before we spend too much more time trying to straighten out the American neighborhood, we might get our own house in order. Blessed are the poor in spirit who mourn their sins (Matt. 5:3-4). (Emphasis added)
In the same vein, my dear friend, Pastor Jeff Teague, likes to expose how much we Christians tend to be insensitive to our own sin. Utilizing his considerable acting abilities, Jeff asks with faux disdain, “Why is it that Jesus only hung around sinners?” Many bite and respond with something like, “Yeah, that’s right. He did hang around with a lot of unsavory types.” By their response, many reveal that they feel different and therefore distant from the sinners Jesus regularly spent time with. Then Jeff answers his own question, “Because sinners are the only people who exist!”
So yes, be ready to share about God’s design for marriage, but realize your answer may cloud more than clarify if it does not come with some honest comments about the sins which many times find safe harbor in the church.
Do you eat fish?
MARILYN ROBINSON (PULITZER PRIZE WINNER)
I’m generally a vegetarian of the ovo-lacto type, minus the ovo, yet I’m keenly aware of the fact that Hitler was a vegetarian. When he visited Mussolini in Italy he rejected the state dinner. He didn’t drink or smoke. I hold him up as an example of how an aversion virtue can be a negative sign.