My wife bought me a cool MP3 player for my birthday - it looks kind of like a jump drive, and you load music on it (and recharge the battery) by plugging it right into a USB port on your computer. I've been listening to it on the way to work using an FM tuner - a handy device that you can plug into your MP3 player (or whatever else) and transmit a signal directly to your radio. I've been using 88.3 as the signal, and as fate would have it, that station is the local American Family Radio station. I had forgotten why I stopped listening to AFR a number of years ago, but as I heard them over the airwaves Thursday morning, I began to remember.
They were so negative. What sticks out in my mind is the constant barrage against Disney, though the specifics escape me now. For a network that considers itself Christian, I was often put off by the negativity that seemed to exude from it. When I turned the car on Thursday, I was immediately assailed by James Dobson taking a stance on what appear to be the only two issue important to Christians this election season. They are, of course, gay marriage and abortion. I recalled an article I read awhile back - an interview with Brian Mclaren - where he talks about the amount of energy spent to discuss the danger of someone like him. And he says, "what about the danger of Jerry Falwell, or...James Dobson or...Pat Robertson." And I remember thinking, What?!? The danger of James Dobson?? But, I think I'm beginning to piece that together. When you take a look at the "religious right" and how they are supposed to represent Christianity, and thereby represent Jesus, it makes me wonder what kind of message is being sent to the world.
I'm reminded of a recent post on Mike Cope's blog about the stewardship of our world. He talks about how the National Association of Evangelicals had taken a stance on the care of God's creation, and how a letter addressed to the NAE, from several leaders of the Religious Right, including Dobson, seemed to imply that they should stick to more core issues - like abortion or gay marriage. (Read that post for a more in-depth discussion.)
Is this the best way to carry out the great commission of Jesus? I have strong feelings on these issues, but I'm not sure that making them the central part of a religiopolitical campaign is how Jesus wants us to share what He's about.
And, are these the only issues Christians should be concerned about? This is why people have the view of Christians that they do, and why they have a view of God as primarily judge, jury, and executioner. This is in direct opposition to John's statement that God is love. I don't think that means we ignore what He wants and how He wants us to live; but when we put that face to the world, that that's what God wants more than anything; I think we're turning people away.
What about love? Compassion? Helping the poor and needy? What about what Jesus said were the most important commands? What about Paul said was of first importance? What about what James said about pure religion? Are the answer to these questions found in politicking against homosexuality and abortion?
Maybe I'm reading my Bible wrong - but I seem to recall that the most important commands have to do with love; that what was of first importance was Jesus; and that pure religion is helping those in need.
There are a lot of bad things in this world - genocide, war, starvation, a global AIDS crisis, widespread prejudice. Are these things even worth campaigning about?
We're worried about the breakdown of the traditional family in America. What about the breakdown of love and compassion over the entire world? I'm worried that we are becoming more concerned with our personal rights and our personal way of life more than we are about sharing Jesus with the world, or about sharing compassion and love.
What would happen if we truly acted like Jesus? As a whole, as a Christian community; what if we truly walked in His footsteps? Would we have more or less impact on society?
But maybe I'm just full of crap. I often soapbox here - it is called Jim's Running Commentary, after all; but I don't tend to get political - I tend to leave that to Krista, who's much smarter than I am; I figure I'll just end up looking stupid. And I don't normally solicit comments, but I think that most of the people that read this are people I know personally. What's your take? I'm really curious to hear.