Reexamining the Culture War
I have a confession to make. I am a veteran of the Culture War.
I used to rah-rah for a political party. I would spend precious hours of the day arguing with people online about current events or hot-button issues. I would read a variety of news sources and consume video that echoed my particular political positions.
It spilled over even to spiritual conversations. I would be talking with a friend about Jesus and somehow we’d end up on a discussion concerning campaign finance or a foreign war.
For a time, I defined the priorities of my faith not by the authors of the faith but by the pundits who promoted the marrying of American politics with Christian tenents.
Enough is enough!
Some people relish this sort of thing, but for me, it wasn’t destined to last. I eventually got sick of the whole kit and kaboodle of talking points and talking heads.
I got sick of the scare e-mails promising dire doom if I didn’t contribute funds for a cause.
I got sick of bloggers predicting the end of civilization as we know it if the _____ agenda wasn’t stopped dead in its tracks.
I got sick of politically-motivated theologians interpreting the Bible to fit a pre-conceived agenda and turning spiritual topics into matters for the State. (ALL sides are guilty of this.)
And, more than anything, I got sick of who I’d become as I remained trapped in this paradigm. It wasn’t helping me to love more, care more, do more, be more, see more, feel more, or even particularly think more.
So I quit, packed my bags, left the front lines, and went home.
Here’s what I’m doing instead.
I’m investing more genuine energy into people’s lives, spending more time taking the pulse of the local community in which I live. I’m putting more effort into listening to what people who think/believe differently than I do actually think/believe. Does that mean I’ve become a pushover or abandoned my strong convictions? No, by no means, no! All I’m saying is that I’m interested in debates that are meaningful conversations between two people who have previously built a foundation of mutual trust and understanding, rather than abstract arguments to be won over an increasing decibel level. Differences don’t always have to be divisive. Rather, they can sometimes be catalysts for discovering common ground, or arriving at a more holistic view of a matter.
It’s a shame such thoughtful and often genteel discourse doesn’t seem to pay the bills in our ad-fueled partisan climate. I guess the thinking goes: who wants to watch a TV show or donate to a political campaign where everyone is “nice?”
Now I, like most people, have no qualms with a little heat now and then. But at some point, I felt I had to make a choice, and I decided I wasn’t interested in using the little time I have left on this planet we call Earth caught up in foolish quarrels. As I continued to read more about the people who actually founded the Christian faith — Jesus and His apostles — I realized that they could have easily spent their entire time railing against the very real injustices and tyranny of the political system of their day, the Roman Empire. Believe me, there was plenty to get worked up about. But they didn’t. Instead, they tended to the immediate needs of the local community.
They fed the hungry.
They healed the sick.
They comforted the poor.
They preached a message of forgiveness, even of one’s enemies.
They told us what pure religion truly is: helping widows and orphans in their afflictions, and keeping oneself unstained from the world.
(Honestly, I have no idea how anyone can enter into today’s political climate and remain unstained.)
So that’s what I’m starting to focus on. I’m unregistering from any one political party, and I will be very careful and deliberate who or what I vote for in any immediate elections coming up.
Empires come and go. In the end, even the majesty of the glorious Roman Empire came to an end. But Christians…well, we’re still here. Some of us are even trying to do what Jesus did: love others abundantly and sacrificially even when they least deserve it. What would the world be like if more Christians did the same?