Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cutting off debate

In case you didn't hear, last week Rev. Jesse Jackson was waiting to be interviewed on FOX and whispered his frustrations with Presidential Candidate Barrack Obama, including a pretty graphic and gruesome description of how he'd like to neuter the Illinois Senator.

It really is unfortunate that the focus from the left will be that Fox is practicing shabby journalism and that the focus from the right will be that Jackson must be a hypocrite for using such vulgar language while complaining that a Black political leader would encourage personal morality and responsibility in the Black community.

It's sad because one of the important differences between Republicans and Democrats is the emphasis of the right on individual morality (sexual orientation, drug use, abortion) and the emphasis of the left on collective/societal morality (justice, poverty, war, corporate and government responsibility, environmental stewardship).

Both are legitimate and both are important, but both sides seem to argue past each other, discount each other's concerns and even accuse each other of being somehow amoral or even immoral when in fact both camps are have deeply held "values."

As someone who majored in History at a Lutheran university, as someone who's faith and country are both very important to him, I think that these is things which we need to be able to discuss openly and civilly.

Recently a prominent Black pastor commented on this balance (or imbalance):

"My appeal was for the moral content of his message to not only deal with the personal and moral responsibility of black males, but to deal with the collective moral responsibility of government and the public policy which would be a corrective action for the lack of good choices that often led to their irresponsibility,"

This pastor's concern is that lecturing people that they need to be better parents or get a job or stay away from drugs or stop listening to Gansta Rap isn't needed as much as addressing the problems of institutional racism, housing and job discrimination and the failures of education and government to provide equal opportunity to minorities. You may not agree with him, but in essence, he's saying, "stop picking at the specks in other people's eyes and worry about the log in our collective national eye (Matthew 7:1-6)."

One side wants to prevent abortions, the other wants to help parents be able to afford to keep and care for the babies they have. One side wants to incarcerate young men who commit crime or sell or use drugs, while the other wants to provide a better education and a better chance for those young men to get a decent job and feel valued by and involved in something other than a gang.

One side is reactive, the other side would like to be proactive. One side wants to prohibit sin, the other wants to actively do good. Both have their own idea of how to make "Thy kingdom come."

It's a never ending debate. Way back in the 16 and 1700's political philosopher John Locke believed that all men were created equal and capable of self government while Thomas Hobbes believed that we're all selfish and in conflict and need to be governed forcibly. Both sides are partly right but both sides are missing half the picture.

Whichever side you agree with, it's about time that we recognize that the James Dobsons and John Haggees do not represent ALL Christian thinking. Not all liberals and progressives are atheists bent on debasing all our traditions. I'll betchya anything that when you die and go to Heaven, youĂ­ll be surprised by how many different political viewpoints are represented by the other people there.

Both Republican Mike Hukabee and Democrat Obama have shown that Christians are concerned about more issues than white, Fundamentalist Southern Baptist extremists may like to admit. Of course we also have to be careful to not assume that the likes of Jesse Jackson and Jeremiah Wright represent all Black people let alone all Black Christians.

Like it or not, if Jesus were here today, he'd probably be cavorting with freaks and sinners (Mark 2:14-17). Granted that's not to say that He'd condone any of their sin, but I for one think that His grace, love and forgiveness are messier than Jerry Fawell's Moral Majority would approved of.

The new, younger faith talk focuses on helping the community (Matthew 25:39-46), whereas the traditional "family values" talk of the last 30 years or so has been much more focused on how America is going to Hell in a hand-basket (Romans 1:18-32).

It's too bad that we can't "come reason together (Isaiah 1:18)" and find out how we can work together instead of accusing each other of being bad, wrong, evil, or a tool of the Devil all the time. I know, I know, who am I to talk when I draw cartoons like last week's that throw Dr. Dobson's words about Obama back at him? But that's what cartoonists do.

That pastor who made the statement about wanting Obama to deal with "collective moral responsibility?" ... Jesse Jackson.

If only he had had the manhood to say it that way BEFORE Fox caught him saying it in such a base, offensive manor, maybe then he could've castrated the arguments of his opponents instead of emasculating his own credibility.

Galatians Chapt. 5

2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9"A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." 10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

13You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love. 14The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

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