Sunday, April 1, 2012
Hurt feelings and an off morning
Sundays sans church have become weird for me. My alarm went off this morning and was greeted by a lovely case of vertigo. By the time I stumbled out of my bedroom, Melissa Harris Perry's show was on MSNBC.
I'm really enjoying it and hope it has a long life on the channel...it's simultaneously smart, deep, relevant and light, covering everything from the impact of the death of the Notorious B.I.G. to economic policy reform. Harris-Perry, a professor at Tulane, is openly Mormon and liberal. One would expect to to hear explanations of Palm Sunday and quotations from the book of Samuel from more conservative stations, but no, this was happening, and does happen, on the most liberal of the cable news stations.
I believe Harris-Perry is a bit of a special case...being Black, the world expects her to be a member of the faithful, despite political alliance...and I think she opens up an important door in Christianity. The one labeled "Liberal Christian"...or at least "not-Republican Christian." She facilitates the discussion of faith in politics from a seldom-heard perspective and has kicked off the discussion of how liberals can frame political discussions around faith, an area where they are particularly weak.
I've watched the Christian Left since their inception as an organization jump, dive and parry with the Christian right over many issues, hoping that, even in their occasional misguided steps (there are quite a few issues and concepts I disagree with them on), they would redirect the focus of what it means to be Christian in America toward something deeper than a shared cultural expereince. I saw this morning's show and discussions of climate change policy as a function of Biblical stewardship as a step in that direction.
One point she made was in reference to the way Rick Santorum, the candidate with the most religious platform, speaks. She made the very accurate observation that his speech is very much centered around his own people and protecting his own kind. I knew exactly what she was saying.
Why does it ring true for me? Well, I feel a lot of personal dislike for my kind and widespread disregard for humanity in general from the Right. I'm no Democrat, but the all-too-frequent cries of pro-life in the same breath as being pro-war and pro-death sentence strikes me leaves me questioning the party's true overreaching values and unable to see ties to some of the most important and self-sacrificing tenants of Christianity.
That point though, is still a bit removed. I get reminders every now and then of the hearts of some of those who claim the title of Christianity in my life. Those reminders hurt on multiple levels. The Trayvon Martin case has been the most recent instance. I saw too many people entirely too willing to bear false witness in the form of doctored articles about the dead teen passed around Facebook. Normally, I stay out of these frays. Good seldom comes from detached arguments in cases like these, but one of the pictures passed around was an outright lie and had been outed as such by the creator. I responded briefly to one post, mentioning that it was a fake, and saying that I had learned a lot about all the people around me, Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Black, White, Asian, Gay, Straight and otherwise, by how they responded to the case. The response was that I was too hastily judging and that I couldn't know people's hearts (mind you, I didn't post what I actually thought of anyone).
I gave that some thought, and I quite confidently believe that to be untrue. Luke 6:45 tells us that "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks". That is where my issue with the Republican party lies...it's deeper than seeing general disdain for people who have my skin color. It lies in the core of policy and attitudes. I still though, do not measure individuals by the groups they align themselves with...people's reasons for joining things are just too broad, and anyone could find many faults with me for being a contributing member of the Christian church...my problem, is that I see callousness in policy and that same callousness in too many Christian individuals who are members of said party.
I say all that to say that all churches and individuals, The Christian Left and The Christian Right, need to put down the political box they want to put God in. He's much bigger than either side.