Living in This World, Political Theology, Politics

Feel the Burn

The grown-ups at my house don’t watch a lot of TV outside of baseball season, but this being a presidential election year, I have been drawn into watching some cable news coverage. I’m undecided most days; my spouse is not (sorry, I won’t tell you more); our voting age children #FeeltheBern.

When I turn on the foolishly big television intended to make us feel like we’re sitting at the ballpark, and I punch in the channel for the latest debate, press conference or expert analysis, I often find myself watching and listening to distressing behavior at what feels like an unsafe distance. It’s up too close, the red-faced hostility, the fallacious allegations, and the self-aggrandizing claims.

I wonder what the world is coming to, how we will avoid destroying ourselves, and things that matter to us. I feel some mixture of frustration, apathy, and despair. I exercise my privilege, therefore, to press the mute button, or I change the channel to see what’s on HGTV, or I turn the darn thing off and go to bed.

Daddy, Tommy and me – Monumental Methodist Church, 1966

It’s the truth that I grew up starry-eyed about politics because the politician I knew best was my daddy. We practiced our own civic religion; our polling place was at the Methodist church where he learned about faith. I remember vividly walking there from our house and going into the booth with him before I was old enough to read the names on the ballot. I associate goodness with the sound of that lever being pulled to register his vote and open the curtain that revealed us again to the world. Everything about his speech was thoughtful, careful, strong, but gentle.

I wonder how I would have felt if I had been in the Temple courtyard that day Jesus came in and started turning over the tables, knocking over the cages and freeing the birds intended for sacrifice, shouting that his Father’s house had been turned into a den of thieves? Did he not raise his voice? Did he not cause a disturbance? Did he not protest the way things were?

How do we discern the difference between righteous indignation and attention-seeking tirades?

We ask ourselves, what is the underlying intention of the person raising his or her voice? What is the agenda of the person causing the disturbance? What is the desire of the person protesting the status quo?

If we’re people of faith, we ask ourselves, do these loud voice do more than invoke God? Do they align with the values Jesus lived and died to teach us? And, perhaps even more importantly, do they express our Resurrection hope?

I’m not looking for a savior among political candidates, nor do I think that only certain varieties of church-going Christians can express that hope. I am looking for an affirmation of what matters to me, which will allow me to be faithful as I mark a ballot. I hope I’ll feel that burn.

4 thoughts on “Feel the Burn”

  1. Hello Martha,

    I appreciate your words. Without meaning to be presumptuous I am sending you what I wrote to my congregation on March 2nd. I was moved by the words of Carrie Newcomer which I have included.

    With Christ on our side we can have the courage not to join the others in jeering or jesting or pointing fingers or packing our concealed carried certificates or stepping onto the platform of being forever right. With Christ on our side we can humbly admit to being lost, to needing him, to entering the realm of not knowing, but trusting and hoping, walking in the realm where there is room for mistakes and success. Walking with Jesus we will lose ourselves in the newness of everyday and the familiarity of discoveries. Lost is never alone. Kindness is always in love.

    Sally – a servant of Jesus, the Son of God, my Savior

    Carrie Newcomer March 2 at 3:00pm · Bloomington, IN ·

    A Speed of Soul Conversation “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” Lao Tzu

    Belittling make us small, love expands our life and our hearts. Intolerance & bigotry are small, boxed in ideas. Violence as a way of solving problems is a small idea. Name calling and language that pulls the entire conversation down into the gutter is small and makes us small. What we say matters, because what we say is the precursor to what we choose to do. I agree with Quaker author, Philip Gulley, who says, “We become what we honor. ”

    So today…I honor civil dialogue. Not just being “nice”, but to be in active dialogue through thoughtful and sometimes tender conversations. Today I honor finding the places where our values overlap and working from that point. Today I honor the beauty of diversity and the power of community working toward a common good. Today I honor education and taking care of those who are in need. Today I honor a healthy (not mean spirited) sense of humor as well as our interconnectedness to the natural world and to one another. Today I honor love as the greater power and the final word.

    What do you honor today?

    Sally Harrington

    4495 B Dr S

    Battle Creek, MI 49015

    269 719 2823

    1. Hi, roanie. Do you follow via an email from WordPress? I think what you need to do is change your email notification address with them. I can’t actually edit my list of email followers. I wish I could help!

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