Sunday, June 18, 2006

What's gone wrong with the Left?

Ayeeee! It's been too long since I've posted. I'll admit, I started a post on the relationship between "You can't serve God and Mammon" and "Don't be anxious about you will eat and wear", and found the topic became rather large for just one post. I'm still working on it, and will post when I've got it down to non-novel length.

Meanwhile.....Yesterday Not long ago A while back, I went to a Ken Medema concert. Ken is one of my favorite musicans from back in the Jesus Music era (I've still got a couple of his vinyl albums from that era). Ken's theme for the concert was heroes. One of the heroes described, Bill Campbell, was a civil rights leader. The situation was the aftermath of a clash between a civil rights group and some Klansmen, which resulted in the death of a Klansman. In this situation, though having 'every right' to be resentul, Bill Campbell was able to go to the widow of the slain Klansman and sincerely say "If there's anything I can do to help, let me know." In the midst of the civil rights conflict, he waa able to hang on to the truth of forgiveness.

As Ken was telling this it hit me that what seems to have gone wrong with the current "Left" is that they've lost touch with the truth of forgiveness. With the original civil rights leaders, there was room for forgiveness of the bigots and racists who opposed them. As I look at the actions of the current "Left" who claim to be the successors of the original civil rights movement, I don't see that insight. Whatever the pluses and minuses (and I know there are some who only see minuses) of President Bush, when you see the left in general comfortably, proudly, and aggressively proclaiming, by word and deed, their hatred of President Bush and others who they see as opponents, it's hard to believe the truth of forgiveness is much in view.

Now in some ways that might sound a little odd coming from an admittedly conservative writer. You might think I'm just making another "Look how bad the left is" argument, but it's more like I'm saying that the left has lost something that would make them more effective. While I disagree with a lot of what the left has to say nowadays, I think we need some people who fill a roughly 'leftist' position in life (perhaps more like what has been called an 'old-style liberal' than what we have now, but we still need them). As I've put it before in another context: "There are some people who think that if you're in business, you automatically must be an evil person motivated solely by greed. They're wrong, but they do make a good counterpoint to those who think that if you're in business, you automatically must be a saint whose opponents are motivated solely by envy." Those of us who (rightly) insist that there are real moral absolutes in the world that you ultimately can't get around probably need some people around who will make us remember that there is a merciful side to the God who set up those absolutes. It just seems a bit strange that the people claiming to be on the merciful side are forgetting to show mercy and forgiveness towards those with whom they disagree.

Ken has a song about Ananias being called by God to visit Saul (Acts 9:10-17), at the time when Saul was widely known as the most active persecutor of the Church. Ananias balks at first, then goes. As Ananias enters the house where Saul was staying, the first thing out of his mouth was " Brother Saul". As Ken puts it in concert: "Did you hear that? I called him brother! Do you realize the theological implications of calling my worst enemy 'Brother'?!" Later in concert he brings out that we may have Sauls waiting out there for us, enemies who we'll have to go to and call 'Brother'. Saul might be Nicaraguan, or Red Chinese, or any of a whole litany of people we might see as enemies. What the current left seems to have forgotten is that for some people, Saul might be a Republican, or work for Haliburton or even like Anne Coulter. Until they remember this, I have my doubts about what worthwhile change they might bring about.