I must be out of my mind.
I have to admit – I’m really confused these days. It seems that the whole world is up side down. I lived half my life in politics and thought I understood campaigning and politics – I’ve certainly done enough campaigns to make a legitimate claim to understanding. Yet I find myself speechless when I look at the political world. Nothing seems to make sense this political season. Candidates who wouldn’t have gotten the time of day in the past aren’t just seen as legitimate, but winning. It seems as though what is legitimate now is outrageous language meant to incite fear and anger and division.
I’m confused about religion too. Again, you’d think someone who has spent a good portion of his life thinking about, contemplating, praying, studying, etc about theology and God and religion would be able to claim some mantle of understanding about the subject. Yet I find myself dumbfounded when I look at the so-called spokespersons of Christianity in the US. Nothing seems to make sense. I don’t understand so-called Christian leaders speaking words of judgement, exclusion, anger, fear, and nationalism. Where is the hope, joy and grace?
The list could go on, but I think you get the point. When I look out at the world, so much doesn’t make sense to me right now.
John Pavlovitz wrote an article about this recently. When I read it, two paragraphs spoke to me and express how I feel pretty well.
I’ve always thought that caring for the poor and sharing my blessings and walking humbly and showing mercy and seeking peace were all inherent in my calling as a Christian, yet from what I can see I really dropped the ball somewhere along the way, because these are certainly not on trend in the Church I’m seeing on the news and in Christian Universities and out on the campaign trail. I seem to remember the Jesus of the Gospels shunning status and opulence, casting aside power and privilege, bending to serve and feed and heal, but that can’t possibly be right given the headlines.
Apparently we Christians are supposed to fear and resent and vilify those who don’t look or talk or believe or love the way we do, we’re supposed to wield the power and be the bullies and seek retaliation and shut down disagreement. From what I can tell based in what I’m seeing, followers of Jesus were commissioned by him to go and be angry, crass, affluent, racist, misogynistic, homophobic warmongers, known in the world by our incendiary rhetoric, our stockpiled arsenals, our doomsday predictions, and our flag-waving bravado. (Funny, I always thought it was by our love, but that shows you the level of deception I’ve fallen victim to).
I find myself following a Christian path that seems unpopular, at least in the wider American culture.
It’s been said that you have to be out of your mind to follow Jesus. His way is not the way of the world. His way is not the popular and historical way of dealing with the world.
The way of the world is empire – conquer and eliminate those that would contest that power. Peace through fear. The leaders of empire speak emotional words meant to rile the masses to do their will. The angry and irrational mob has become symbol of this. There is no possibility of rational discussion with this mob. There is no opportunity for reasonableness. There is no chance to have discussion – where there is listening and speaking. There is no compromise for the angry mob – it’s either their way or the highway.
This isn’t new in history. It has happened many times in human history. Apparently, we haven’t learned this lesson yet.
Which is all the more reason for me to follow a different path – one that doesn’t make sense to the world (or at least to American culture and even popular cultural Christianity). the path charted by Jesus – the way of peace and love and service. I must be out of my mind. Thank God for that. If the way of the world made sense to me, I’d be concerned about my mental health.