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.

5 comments:

the reverend mommy said...

Yeah, it has been a long time.

Of course, I blog and THEN read blogs and not the other way around. Not that one way is superior or anything.

Of course, I'm reading blogs when everyone else is at church b/c of the bad cold thing. Sigh. Oh well. Church of the Blogs.

I have problem with political extremes, anyway.

I like the Lectionary text from Eph this week -- to be held accountable in love. Yeah, I'd like to see some of that on either extreme. A little less hatred and a little more grace.

Blessings, oh BIL.

jockeystreet said...

This is a good post.

It's tough. I'll fully admit, as a committed member of the "left," that this is one of the hardest things to do. Not with the people I can actually see and know. I have many close "conservative" friends and as much I am sometimes horrified by what I hear them saying, it doesn't break that frienship, I can't simply write them off, deny their good intentions. But those people that I get to view only from afar... people like Bush and Cheney, the Coulters and O'Reilly's and Limbaughs and DeLays... it's so easy to filter out any compassion or recognition of humanity and just feel fury.

Whyte Stonne said...

Dear Oloryn,

I found myself forced, and then persuaded, by the Scriptural diversity of gifts and callings, to accept as a positive virtue my rigid and doctrinaire brothers and sisters in Christ.

The next step is to not simply tolerate their rigidity, but celebrate their doctrinal rigidity. That will be a bit tougher!

I present my diversity application of Paul’s Body metaphor about half way through MacArthur’s "Raising the Error-Alert" post. (Have you read it?)

You wrote, “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).”

I think that near the end of this post you specified exactly why we "need them," these “old style liberals,” in the Body of Christ. You value their presence because of the “worthwhile change they might bring about.”

I share what I believe is your appreciation for the intrinsic value of diversity in the Body of Christ, the Community of Believers. For some people, continuity with the past comes easily. For others, change from the past comes easily.

It really is too bad when the rhetoric and invective of traditionalists and dissenters is so strident that they can’t tolerate being in the same organizations. They lose the strengths the others could bring to the task of ministry.

Oloryn said...

I present my diversity application of Paul’s Body metaphor about half way through MacArthur’s "Raising the Error-Alert" post. (Have you read it?)

Yes, I've read it. My own approach to a lot of this is rooted in a gut-level sense that individuality is a God-given thing (what little aesthetic sense I have is rooted in an appreciation of "that which is distinctly itself"). In people I tend to look for what God has distinctly given to them, however twisted it is by the fall. I am, though, a bit wary of the way 'diversity' has become a buzzword nowadays. You might say I value the diverse gifts, people and personalities God has placed in the body, but I'm also aware that diversity can become an idol. Diversity by itself is no guarantee of quality or goodness, but God can (and intends to) cause the diverse gifts and people He has given us work together for the good of the whole, if we will let him.

If you haven't read G. K. Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" yet, read it. The concept in chapter 6 of balance as "the collision of two passions apparently opposite" is quite valuable here.

I think that near the end of this post you specified exactly why we "need them," these “old style liberals,” in the Body of Christ. You value their presence because of the “worthwhile change they might bring about.”

Liberals, almost by definition, want change. That change might be worthwhile, or not, depending on what the change is rooted in. I want that change to be worthwhile, but that is by no means guaranteed.

Whyte Stonne said...

Creativity with a questioning attitude creates a kind of "heuristic orientation" to life in general, and to the Christian life in particular. This "heuristic" generation of ideas simply produces ideas, which then need to be tested, evaluated, experimented with, etc.

You might disagree with the idea of "change for change's sake." I learned two things in Psych 101. First concerned habituation. In life, we become unaware of whatever stimulus is constantly present.

When I worked in the blueprint room of an engineering department, the stench of the ammonia used for developing was overpowering first thing in the morning. But after an hour or so, I didn't notice the ammonia fumes at all.

In the realm of ideas, we become habituated to the constant reiteration of a single idea, or a single viewpoint. The meaning and significance of such habituated input ceases to register with us.

Second, an example of "change for change's sake" involves the tiny movements of the eye called saccades or microsaccades: 30 to 70 eye movements per second so that the world doesn't go blank in front of us.

Just a thought. This could simply be a justification for continued preaching and teaching. Or it could be the rationale for more substantive changes.