Chris and the Dragon

Random thoughts, findings, & loose threads on faith, culture, & parenthood

Posts tagged politics

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Putting Down the Hatchet

An excellent blog especially in light of the political season that we just went through. You should read it all, but the take-home quote from Irwin is this:

But what I learned from this experience is that if you’re a Christian — left or right, it doesn’t matter — and if your religious convictions lead you into political activism,do not bring Jesus into it unless you’re prepared to let him shape not only the causes you support, but the way you go about it — and above all, the way you treat your political adversaries.

Filed under faith politics

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This Makes Me Sad

I have a ton of respect for Rev. Graham, but I want to reiterate something I wrote a few days ago. 

[W]e should always remember that no political platform is going to come close to representing the scope of what God wants for this world. So we must be careful what fallen piece of politics we’re pinning our hopes to.

My disagreement here is not so much Rev. Graham’s political choice, but the way in which his choice is presented. One can certainly choose what he or she thinks is the best option and even base that choice on their faith, but there are far too many holes in each party for either to pass a “biblical values” litmus test (which in and of itself is a bit of a complicated minefield).

All of this is not to tout one party over the other, it is simply to remind us—myself included—that any political party is a flawed, fallen option that does not come close to representing what God desires for this planet. I could very well be wrong about that, but I have to respectfully disagree with Rev. Graham.

Filed under Billy Graham faith politics

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Let’s Have a Chat About Politics & Loving Neighbors

Typically when I mention the Presidential election or the debates on social media, it’s with tongue planted firmly in cheek. During the VP debates last night, I wrote:

I know how to make the debates 10,000 times better: Double Dare. Obama/Biden vs. Romney/Ryan. If a fact checker says you lie, you do a physical challenge. Winning team gets to do the obstacle course and if they complete it, they get Rhode Island’s electoral college votes.

Now I do believe that would be awesome, but I usually make those comments to throw some levity on the situation. Also I do this stuff because politics have become somewhat of a farce. Narratives are spun, facts are twisted, and both sides get self-righteously indignant even though everyone does it. 

I am incredibly frustrated by many of the tweets and Facebook statuses posted during the two debates and the general Presidential season. Frustrated and heartbroken. The general comments made seem to equate the other side with stupidity, arrogance, and outright evil. I don’t have a problem with civil disagreement. But some statements—not all, mind you, but enough for me to write this—veer into a place of ugly attacks. Both sides do it.

The reason this disturbs me so greatly is that I know both Republicans and Democrats who are highly intelligent, moral, and—since the religion card often gets played—committed to their Christian faith. And I hurt for my friends when someone says the other side is dumb or misguided. I hurt for my Democratic friends when someone calls that side a bunch of godless baby-killers. I hurt for my Republican friends when someone calls that side a bunch of greedy bigots.

It hurts me too. Cards on the table: I’m a moderate. I have voted for a Democrat and a Republican in Presidential elections. I am leaning a certain way, but I am also strongly considering not voting at all for certain reasons (besides my vote does not really count seeing as I live in a deeply red state). And I put a lot of thought into how I go about this civic duty. As such, I feel like I am in the crossfire of this war of online words and it sucks. It truly does.

Compounding this problem immensely is that most of the people whom I know swapping fire are involved in the church. It’s one thing for random people to do it: the professional politicians and the cable talking heads. It’s another thing for the people doing it to be individuals claiming to follow the guy that said to love your neighbor as yourself and that we should even love our enemies.

I am not saying that we should not disagree or be passionate about issues. Do not misunderstand me, I think there is a place for us to have civic dialogue concerning our problems with either party’s platform and express preferences. But we should put what we say, whether online or in person, in that context of loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. We should ask: How would I feel if what I am about to post was being said about me or my views? Am I genuinely making a point or am I simply belittling the other side to make my side look better?

We can disagree in a civil way. We don’t do a good job of it: not in our society and not in our churches (we have a schismatic history). But if we are ever going to move forward we have to work with those whom we disagree. We have to love each other and treat each other with respect. Otherwise it is a standstill of name-calling and finger-pointing.

Plus—and this is another blog entirely—we should always remember that no political platform is going to come close to representing the scope of what God wants for this world. So we must be careful what fallen piece of politics we’re pinning our hopes to.

In conclusion, let me say something to my brothers and sisters online that I mean quite literally: For the love of God, stop. Stop tearing other people down maliciously. Stop thinking that your side is the sole possessor of the right way. Remember that in spite of the yahoos and charlatans, there are good and intelligent women and men on both sides.

Republicans and Democrats have their knives out for each other right now, but Jesus—even knowing we would have disagreements—said the world will know we are Christians by our love. So let’s show the world what that looks like.

Filed under politics faith Presidential election

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Sacrificing to the Gods of the Bottom Line

I have a knack for falling in love with low-rated, critically-beloved TV shows. These shows bring me so much enjoyment, but they are watched by so few people that there’s this constant fear they’ll get the ax at any moment. This started with Sports Night during my teens and continues today with my two favorite shows: Community and Parks & Recreation. Thankfully those two shows are coming back in the fall, but the former is coming back without its creator Dan Harmon. This is a bit disconcerting.

I’ve said before that while Community is not as consistently excellent as Parks, it has a higher ceiling because of its go-for-broke, absolutely anything can happen nature. You could have a relatively normal episode or you could go inside an 8-bit video game, a paintball war could break out, you could venture into multiple timelines, zombies could invade, or it could be a more subdued character study. It is one of the few utterly unpredictable shows on TV. That’s possibly why it’s low-rated and definitely part of why I love it so much. By accounts of the cast and crew, the lion’s share of that comes from Harmon’s vision.

This isn’t to beatify Harmon. He himself has said that he can be a incredibly difficult man with which to work. No doubt that is one of the reasons why Sony decided to hand the keys of his kingdom to someone else. However much has also been said that the studio is hoping that the new showrunners will broaden the appeal of the show. The word “broaden” basically means “to make it more like the other shows that are on TV.” In other words, to dilute the creativity, to make it more predictable, to make Community less like what is quintessentially Community.

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Filed under faith arts Community politics business

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A Modest Proposal for a (Possibly) Temporary Ban on Two Words

In virtually every episode of Law & Order I’ve seen, a lawyer will toss out something about the witness that they know will be stricken from the record. However, they do it regardless in hopes that the heinous nature of the implication will stick in the jurors’ minds. In Community's pitch-perfect homage to L&O last week, one of the “lawyers” accused a witness of being a “Holocaust-denying 9/11 pedophile”—which makes no sense—and immediately said “Withdrawn” with a smile.

It’s dirty pool. Ideally, you’re supposed to make an argument through reason or moral uprightness. But the hope here is that the label you throw around your opponent’s neck will drag them down in the eyes of whomever you are trying to persuade. It’s mirrors and smoke. It also seems to be the first shot fired in every political debate and—this is where it’s most difficult for me—most church disagreements.

That’s why I propose we stop using these two words: liberal and conservative.

What the heck do those words even mean? It depends on who you ask. Are there differences between the two? Yes and they are fairly big differences. But if a conservative uses the word “liberal” and a liberal uses the word “conservative,” you can almost guarantee that what they mean is “Holocaust-denying 9/11 pedophile.” It makes no sense and yet people eat it up.

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Filed under faith Community politics liberal conservative