08.31.12

the election

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:11 am by Administrator

i don’t write much about politics anymore, which is a very good thing. but this year’s presidential election does deserve some reflection, because the presidential race and the issues being discussed are fascinating.

for one thing, one of the main foci of debate during this election season is actually a substantive issue—healthcare reform. we’ve waited decades to have real, vigorous debate in the political forum about how to implement healthcare reform, all while being subjected every four years to the usual drivel about family values and America’s leadership in the free world. healthcare and social security—i was taught in the 5th grade that they were the two most broken systems in America, and here we are twenty-five years later, finally trying to fix them.

for another thing, this election features a Mormon matched up against a black man. ten years ago, such a race would have been unthinkable. my dad always told me that a woman would be elected before a black man; and who would’ve thought that a Mormon would ever be in the discussion? but here we are, an electorate somehow unrestricted by its sundry prejudices. in this, i’m pleased, i’ll admit.

and yet, as striking as this rivalry does appear, i feel disengaged. four years ago, casting a vote for Obama was a powerful expression of identity, an urgent necessity in light of the history that could be created. now, i don’t look at Obama as a black man or as a representative of my background and beliefs; i look at him as a man of fine rhetoric and baffling missteps. he is a man who on the one hand demonstrated a unique capacity for long-term vision (as a first-termer!) and yet who on the other hand failed to convey any real message to his constituents during a time of crisis. whether for political expediency or for his own legacy, he took on real enemies with sharp words, but he fought badly, and he hurt his friends instead.

being the left-leaning man that i am, i can say that i’m happy that we’re out of Iraq, and i’m happy that a comprehensive healthcare reform bill was passed. i’m happy that obama held Israel at arm’s length during his administration, and i’m delighted that he finally took a real stand on same-sex marriage.

but i’m a practical man too, and i feel deep frustration at the manner in which obama bungled his job as a politician. he inherited a country in wide-reaching financial crisis, and yet his priority in the first year was to push a healthcare reform bill that taxes the young and dumps the chronically ill onto struggling private insurers. that’s “universal coverage” in name only. overall, what obama did was to conflate the struggle of the uninsured with the economic plight of the nation at large. that equation was not only confusing but also anger-provoking for many Americans. this is why obama lost his Democratic congress and the faith of the American people, despite the fact that he had, in some ways, accomplished a visionary thing. the hit to his credibility wasn’t just a political loss; the wide perception of his failed leadership created a fiercely partisan congress that was unable to accomplish any meaningful legislation after year one.

and with regard to this visionary thing he did—the Affordable Care Act—i continue to feel deep ambivalence. the two things most necessary to the solvency of the American healthcare delivery system are pharmaceutical price controls and the restructuring of Medicare reimbursement. obama did neither. in fact, he got in bed with big pharma, trading a political pass on a Medicare formulary for a fat pharma donation to his health reform advertising campaign. on Medicare, his administration hasn’t even begun to tackle the matter of scaled Medicare cuts, despite how necessary these are, and how carefully these must be implemented.

i think that when doctors and patients really look at the ACA from the inside, what they find is chaos. at the ground level, healthcare reform is pandemonium—sweeping shifts of clients into overwhelmed health plans, disruption of care continuity, painful bureaucracy, poor access to primary docs and specialists. the patients, the doctors, and the insurers have to play along; they have no choice. they feel disempowered, out of control, and ignored. they fight through tensions and obstacles every day, and every day they realize the gap between reality and the promises of “Obamacare”.

theoretically there is one cohort in America that is immediately realizing a benefit because of health reform, and that’s the poor, uninsured American citizen who is chronically ill but unable to qualify for SSI disability. that patient will benefit from Medicaid expansion and won’t have to get his primary care through an emergency room anymore. that cohort is not trivial, but it’s only a small percentage of the people who are being impacted by health reform. aside from this cohort, just about everyone else is suffering through this transition, sometimes inordinately.

i feel anger and frustration for Obama because i look at him as a peer who botched our common cause. he took something we both believed in but then he ruined it, by hurting the wrong people, by bedding the real enemies and their powerful lobbies. he played politics to get something done, but in the end, he proved himself a consummately poor politician. because, in the end, a good politician makes long-term solutions through long-term relationships. Mr. Obama made short-term fixes through an exceedingly transient Democratic congress. now, he has no friends; and he has no real results to be proud of.

not that i like his opponent, Mitt Romney, a consummately spineless man who strikes me as almost too smart to take himself seriously. Romney is a difficult man to hate because he stands for nothing; but i dread the idea of him pretending to be leader of this country, because he’s sure to humiliate Americans worldwide with his tactless witticisms and his unwitting buffoonery. it’s a real discredit to the Republican party that they ended up with such a thoroughly mediocre presidential candidate. what they needed was a real foil for Obama—a white Protestant woman from the Midwest with a spotless conservative voting record and an ability to avoid gaffes of the PR variety. had Bachmann said fewer stupid things, the GOP might have had a real play in this election. as it is, the only platform they have is the “anti-Obama” platform. but that won’t be enough, because in the end, the undecided and Independent voters want someone with real leadership capacity.

it’s an intriguing presidential race, and the issues at stake are quite important, but the candidates themselves are both tainted and thoroughly uninspiring. i look forward to the Romney impersonations but little else, as we move into the frenetic Fall season. if i could vote for anyone, it’d probably be Hilary Clinton. it seems that the only thing that really moves me in the end is the making of history, and i believe now that she couldn’t have been a worse president than the man we’ve had to bear with for the last term.

08.28.12

salvation

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:55 pm by Administrator

it struck me this morning how odd the christian lingo must sound to followers of judaism. when evangelicals determine that all of scripture was meant to point to the person of Christ, i imagine that this statement must make followers of judaism terribly upset. after all, Christians are contending that followers of Judaism have entirely missed the point of their Torah. it must be a very upsetting thing to hear. i would be insulted, in any case. i think it’s fairly remarkable that there isn’t more incendiary rhetoric between Jews and Christians over religious matters; but this might be because we’ve already had these sorts of arguments for thousands of years, all culminating in mass murders and generally proving that ongoing discussion on the matter of Christ is probably pointless.

this morning, i was specifically intrigued by the Christian fascination with “salvation”. i think that in the O.T., prayers for salvation were very specific and situational, unlike the very broad appeal for salvation consistently expressed in the New Testament. our forefathers in faith prayed for salvation when their nation was beseiged or when their physical lives were endangered by enemies; in other words, they prayed for salvation only when they were humiliated or imminently threatened. for an Old Testament Jew to pray daily for salvation, he had to live in a state of ruin. he cried out for salvation in the exceptional situation of pervading failure.

Christians, on the other hand, take it for granted that the prayer of salvation is prerequisite for every imaginable blessing of God. it’s hard for them to understand that once upon a time the prayer for salvation was reserved for the dire situation destitute of God’s blessings. it is ironic, if we consider this, that Christians express a need for salvation while so readily claiming victory through Christ. it is like a young man who has lost both of his eyes now experiencing constant euphoria on account of his seeing-eye dog. it’s a little weird, if not somehow false.

what i wonder is how much we recognize that our prayers for salvation reflect the profundity of failure, not only in our personal lives but also in the world that we live in. once upon a time, a man faithful to God did not need to pray for salvation; He stood justified, in every sense of justification, because his nation was God’s vessel for blessing to the world, and because the existence of his nation promised justice and restoration for the world. followers of Christ in the new covenant do not (and cannot) pretend to a similar idea. integral to the Christian belief is the new and sobering realization that a godly kingdom in this era is a shattered dream; there can be no restoration and justice through human rule, until the destruction of the world and the second coming of Christ. even within ourselves, there is no longer hope for personal restoration and reconciliation to God outside of His total mercy—grace conferred only out of incredible personal cost to Himself.

we pray for salvation because our bodies, our minds, and our societies are in decay and beyond restoration. we might claim victory of a kind; but we are also embracing a profound sense of failure—a failure which implies our individual futility and humiliation.

i recognize now that when i submit to God in prayer and express my wish to obey, i do so as one who wishes to be saved from my deserved fate, the terrible fate of my entire generation. i am not like King David, dancing in the streets as the Ark is brought into Jerusalem. i am like Daniel, in a time of great terror and destruction, witnessing Jerusalem torn to pieces and the people of God herded to their destruction. my prayer of salvation is not and cannot be a one-time deal, a key by which i gain entrance into a glorious inheritance once and for all. my prayer of salvation is the marker of my place and my time—a testament to the shambles that i live in. there is both victory and joy for the believer in Christ; but it is not like the victory and joy of the conquering Jewish kings. it is like the yearning and hope of the old prophets, who gave themselves over to a dream of a new Israel, reborn and fully evidencing the glory of God.

ah, how i yearn for your favor, God, not as one who has received it in full but rather as one whose eyes have been opened to its possibility. i pray for salvation even now, because the failure of my kind surrounds me even as it pervades me, convincing me that there is no goodness or hope in my life outside of you. i see in the life of Christ so much grief for what we have become, and i feel it now—deep and overpowering grief for this world, for what we are becoming. i pray for salvation, not only so that i might survive death, but also so that i might live to see my great hope redeemed. i wish to see the world restored, a godly kingdom renown for its justice and prosperity, the proper testament to the virtues and greatness of its creator. i pray for salvation, not as one who has received everything that i have desired, but as one who was reborn, now with this aching desire to see your work completed in my world.

i too bewail jerusalem. i dream of the new Jerusalem. save me and my brothers; save us from what we have built and from what we have become. let us live to see the world recreated. let us obey you to the very last, so that we can stand with you when the kingdom of heaven descends from the sky, to be established on this earth for the rest of time

08.20.12

To Obey

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:19 pm by Administrator

six months ago, my life fell apart, and i’ve gone through a lot since then. i reconciled myself to my wife; i went through a course of marriage therapy; i withdrew from all ministry activities at church; and i began to actively share my story and seek forgiveness from other people in my life. what began as an effort to save my marriage became a process of completely rebuilding my life. i can look at myself now and confidently say that i’ll never be the same, as a social creature, as a husband, and as a father. i have begun to grapple with certain deep psychological injuries from my childhood; and i have finally learned how good real intimacy can be.

as good as this process has been, it has been incomplete. and i knew throughout this process that one thing remained to be done in my life. i didn’t know it would be the last thing, but i did know that it would be the most important. i did not know how or when it would happen. it is always this way with the favor of the Lord.

one of my brothers has been trying to get together with me for months, and finally we found a time for him to come over. we were catching up about life in general, and he asked me how my “spiritual life” is doing. i found myself talking about the Bible—about how hard it is for me to read the Bible, about how defensive i become when people quote scripture, about how much i have come to view the Bible as a weapon in the hands of self-righteous people. i realized as i was saying these things that there was real passion welling up inside of me, and the best way to describe that passion is grief. i was grieving my broken relationship with scripture, even as i was talking about it. and as much as i could see how much my struggle with the Bible captures my generation’s struggle with the Bible, and as much as i could understand how my childhood idea of “quiet time” was formulaic and self-serving, i felt sad when i admitted that i don’t read the Bible anymore.

my brother reminded me of Samuel and Saul, in the aftermath of the battle against the Amalekite people. Saul, flush with victory, had his spoils. Samuel, seeing the spoils that should have been summarily destroyed, grieved for Saul, because Saul, unbeknownst to himself, was now a fallen king. “to obey is better than sacrifice”, Samuel told Saul, as he lamented the sin of his friend and king. my brother told me that devotion to the word of God is not a matter of mere discipline or respect; it is a basic matter of obedience. and all the good fruit of relationship with God—wisdom, restoration, and influence—comes out of obedience. a man has the favor of God when he fears God, and he shows fear of God when he obeys God with utter attentiveness and devotion.

“to obey is better than sacrifice”, my brother told me. “is God pleased when you choose not to listen to Him, as you were commanded?”

i read the passage last night. i read what came before it and what came after. and i realized, after the words and their story had settled a bit in my mind, that the favor of the Lord is an inestimable prize. it is not easily conferred; it is easily taken away. we can define ourselves as God’s people, and we can claim to be both saved and justified, but in a certain and specific way, the favor of the Lord is not ours to take and to take for granted. God sees the things in the heart that men cannot see. He looks for the things that men cannot easily discern. He craves the heart—the totally undivided life, fully devoted to Himself.

whatever i have done to others, my greatest sin has been against you, my God. i can repair some of the injury and trouble i have caused others, but i cannot begin to redeem myself in your eyes. i cannot make a gesture that will please you; i have to beg for your grace, so that my unfaithfulness to you might be forgiven. where do i begin with you? all that i can do is to say, to my utmost humility, that i have disobeyed you because i have not loved you with my whole heart. i love idols, so many of them—money, women, glory, and ultimately myself. i have believed myself to be your vessel, among other vessels. i have proved myself to be a fraud. i wish that i could start my whole life over and make these thirty-six years the story of undying and total devotion to you. but i cannot do this. i have to live with the consequences of my sins, past and present, and i must reckon with the fact that i am a coward, a fool, and a beggar for your mercy.

your word is true, and it is far better than anything i have chosen to counsel me. give me the strength to break the idols in my life; give me the strength to do this once more. let me take a flame to the high places; let me tear apart the graven images that fill my rooms. let me tear out the idols with my fingers and my teeth, until my teeth are torn from my mouth, until every one of my fingers is bleeding and broken. let me lose the hair on my head from my anguish, and let my breath turn rotten so that people will disdain me. let me be ugly to the world, so that my soul might live, and so that my life might get free of my terrible arrogance. feed my rage against my idolatry, until everything that i worshipped is crushed to pieces. then, when there is nothing beautiful in my life anymore, let me eat from your hand, let me give you my life. i beg for your forgiveness. i wish for your favor. you are the author of my story, whether for greatness or for ruin. i am subject to your whim. and i am nothing, nothing at all.

here where i am, i tell you God that i will obey. i will devote myself to you, in every way possible. i will pay my tithe; i will search your word and remember it; i will seek you in prayer; and i will worship nothing and no one but you. my days are a gift from you, and i will endeavor to make them worshipful, every one of them.

have me, this broken heart, this rotten man. take me back, because you are merciful. save me, not for my salvation but for your pleasure. what am i, if i am not yours?

i will obey you, God. i will love you, by obeying you

08.16.12

synergy and consensus

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:47 pm by Administrator

my pastor and i were debriefing this morning about a recent meeting we had, and i came up with a contrast of terms that i thought might give us some insight into what we are trying to accomplish.

on the one hand is consensus. on the other hand is synergy.

in this particular meeting, as with most of the meetings of this particular group, i think the focus has been on consensus. the assumption has been straightforward: if we can truly align, then our unity will naturally create structural results. the biggest obstacle to achieving consensus is disagreement; and specifically the main threat to the process is the empowered, uncompromising naysayer.

last weekend’s meeting featured some fairly heated conflicts which demoralized a few of the members. the general frustration was easy to explain. previously, we had thought that we were verging toward consensus. but the conflicts we witnessed seemed to be deeply rooted and difficult to resolve. in the aftermath of the meeting, we wondered if consensus will now be that much more difficult to establish.

i want to look at the situation differently, partly because i’m also convinced that consensus will be hard. my question is this: is consensus necessarily the objective? is it possible, despite our lack of deep alignment, to nevertheless move forward as a community? could our differences, properly managed, afford us something more powerful than consensus? my word for this scenario is synergy.

i don’t always tolerate disagreement well, but when i do, i feel a remarkable capacity to connect with others and to learn from them. i’d say that perhaps my most fruitful times in life happened when i had to work with people with whom total alignment was impossible. these situations prevented me from relaxing; i was constantly negotiating, processing, and testing the waters. these kinds of relationships made me more self-aware, and i grew. granted, one of the nagging issues i had to deal with was my difficulty in respecting (and feeling respected by) the people i was unaligned with. my challenge was to not let my personal feelings obscure the validity of small, incremental results achieved by my team.

“synergy” for me is about disciplined perspective; it’s about continually, repeatedly, and intentionally contextualizing my feelings, so that i can be a vessel of something consistent and transcending. i know that i’m experiencing synergy when i can overcome my competitive or combative instincts in the heat of a disagreement and arrive with the other person at a point of true, mutual understanding. this sort of understanding does not mean agreement; but this sort of understanding is nevertheless powerful.

in teams, communities, and work, i’m finding myself less preoccupied with keeping score. i think this is because i recognize that the only person i know thoroughly in all of these situations is myself; and when i am honest with myself, i recognize that i’m more wrong than i care to admit. if right and wrong were my obsession in life, i would be unable to succeed. rather than fearing failure or wrongness, i’ve started to assume it, both in myself and in others. i look at team interactions as a chance for us to discover something that is greater than the sum of our right’s and wrong’s. synergy is that magical property that emerges when people stop keeping score and instead choose to enjoy that journey toward real understanding. that journey does not have to end in agreement; but that journey can nevertheless transform lives.

today, i experienced synergy with my pastor. i also experienced synergy with my friend Charles, who rejected my fantasy football trade offer after much mutual processing and analysis. in the end, the dialogue actually helped us to see more value in our own players; the process of negotiation and ultimate disagreement made me feel more sure about my team. that’s synergy—value that is created out of challenging interaction.

in any case, i’ve decided that DeMarco Murray is my guy this year. i hope that he synergizes with Matt Ryan on my fantasy roster

08.10.12

the NBA: where dumb shit happens

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:17 pm by Administrator

i haven’t really had anything good to say about the National Basketball Association for the past five years. but today, i think, is a brand-new juncture for me. i used to be angry because i cared; but today, i realize that i’m numb because i’m no longer a fan. i’ll always love basketball, but i’m finished with the pro game. and i think that i may never again feel a linkage to the NBA, the philadelphia 76ers, or pro basketball players in general.

the dwight howard trade to me is just part of a bigger story of greed, corruption, and betrayal to the fans, a story that has come to define the NBA over the past fifteen years. with all its image problems, impressively retarded players, and spectacularly dysfunctional franchises, the NBA has had to engineer a marketable product that appeals to the lowest common denominator of sponsors and fans. they have done this by rewarding a few dominant franchises with a steady stream of prime talent, at the expense of smaller-market teams. thus, we have a league which functions as a farm system for the Los Angeles Lakers, a team that is perpetually expected to win, a team whose success drives television ratings, revenue for the league, and the veneer of a dynasty.

we can quibble about the meaning of fairness and true competition when it comes to pro basketball, or we can step back and see this product for what it is: dumb fans, dumb players, and a manipulative brain trust behind it all, tailoring the matchups according to its financial strategic plan. Buss, Stern, and the rest of them—it’s big business masquerading as a beautiful game. in fact, it’s all smoke and mirrors, a “showtime” performance worthy of vaudeville. i don’t pay to watch cabaret, and i certainly don’t have time to waste on the NBA.

to the NBA, and to the Lakers in particular, i have one thing to say before this season. fuck you. i won’t be eating your bullshit anymore.

08.07.12

body of work

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:18 pm by Administrator

today i interviewed two candidates for an administrator position. what was interesting for me is that the interviews were back-to-back, and they were each over an hour long. the experience allowed me to see immediate contrasts between the candidates. but i won’t get into that.

the candidates were middle-aged people with lots of relevant experience, and their body of work was extraordinary. both of them demonstrated a lot of insight, and their self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses was impressive. in short, these were two people who were very good at telling me the stories of their lives, and i was very moved by their journeys. in the end, i really did come to believe that both of these people can succeed at whatever career pursuit they devote themselves to.

interviewing people like this does change my perspective on myself. compared to these two candidates, for instance, i’m really young. and it’s not simply on account of my age. the candidates have decades of experience with success, failure, difficult relationships, and breaking new ground. their paths into management have profoundly shaped them, in ways that have made them uncommonly skilled at leading others. while i understood many of the insights they shared with me, i recognized that what i was understanding as a concept was something that they have come to understand as core identity. in other words, they’ve earned their wisdom. they’ve earned it by sticking it out, living life, and surviving to tell the tale. this is something i just haven’t earned yet. in most areas of my life, i’m really just a newbie.

one thing i can’t fail to recognize about my life is how little my social circle includes mentors of greater experience and wisdom. i’ve remarked on this before, but i think that my previous entries on this were largely driven by my frustrations with my own ignorance or failures. today, i’m looking at the importance of older role models through a different lens—a more objective one. there are people out there who just know a heck of a lot more than i do about everything, and it’s because they’ve lived more life than i have. it doesn’t make sense for me not to seek them out, if only to avoid needless mistakes and suffering. and yet, when i look at the group of people that i regularly interact with, i have no one who fills this role in my life. and i think that’s partly because i have marginalized (whether consciously or unconsciously) the older members of my social circle. because they have less in common with me, i consider them less relevant. and this is ironic, when i consider the fact that in my work environment, i would sooner entrust my colleagues to the care of an elder than i would to someone of my experience and tendencies.

i don’t know how much longer i have to live, but here’s the funny fact that i must reckon with today. i’m just beginning my career journey. every couple of years, it seems, i want to derail my life and start over. i think about quitting and trying something new. but my pastor points this out, as has my friend Won Ho. i give up too easily. and people who move around and try new things all the time don’t have the privilege of building a body of work like the two people i met this morning. they don’t earn the authority to apply some of life’s deeper lessons for the enrichment of others.

i’m reminded of something i heard in my mind at Sunday’s church service. i don’t know if it was God telling me this or my own soul. in any case, what i heard was this: “if these people don’t grow, then you will not grow; you will not receive blessing unless these people are blessed.” sticking it out with a company, or a people, or a church is a hard thing. sometimes it’s not even the right thing. but there are certain things you just can’t experience unless you do stick it out. and i’m reminded this morning that some of the things that i most value are the things you earn by sticking it out, by giving your life year after year to a people, and by reaping the fruit of that labor gradually and over time. life is a process. what we earn is a testimony. and what we give to the next generation is our story. it’s all we have in the end. it’s the only thing we take with us, to the next life

08.05.12

the Eagles

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:45 pm by Administrator

generally when i talk about the Eagles, i lavish the organization with so many invectives that people invariably have to ask me why i consider myself a fan. i tell them that rooting for the Eagles is a compulsion. what else can i call it? management changes; ownership changes; players come and go. all that remains, in the end, is just a brand. it’s not much to be loyal to.

except that with regard to the Philadelphia Eagles, there is one guy who’s been around for as long as i’ve been following the team, and that’s coach.

anyone who’s talked to me about the Eagles knows that i’ve repeatedly blamed the Eagles’ failure to win a Super Bowl on Andy Reid’s shortcomings as a head coach. fans of other teams are always quick to remind me of Reid’s winning records, the team’s NFC championships, and its perennial status as a playoff contender. these are the same fans that expressed incredulity over how much Donovan McNabb was loathed in Philadelphia prior to his departure. i’ve told these people that only Philly fans can understand how this team has been built to fail any real tests of character.

a few years ago when Andy Reid’s sons were first busted for drug dealing, there was a lot of talk on Philadelphia sports radio about Reid’s personal life. everything about him was on full display: his weight problem; the chronic misbehaviors of his sons; the emerging mediocrity of the Eagles. the central theme of all the commentary was Reid’s self-control (or lack thereof); and the question we asked was whether the stats were a testament to Reid’s genius or more of a smokescreen for his total mess of a life?

today, i remember some of that speculation we engaged in. perhaps it strikes me now as not a little vicious and unfair. and when i think of what Andy Reid must be going through right now, i feel sadness for him, the kind of sadness i would feel for a friend. it’s odd and unexpected, but i’m realizing that Reid’s life and family have come to mean something to me over these fifteen years.

Lurie says that he expects Reid to be back with the team in the near future, and i don’t know how that’s a good thing for the team, the fans, or the man. he’s lost his son. i won’t judge him if he comes back quickly and pours himself into the team this year. it might be the only way he’s got to move forward with his life. but it’s possible too that this is the time for Reid to put coaching on hold and just get away from the business that has taken over his life. this year, Reid’s role with the team was supposed to be bigger and more demanding than ever before, and it may be nearly impossible for him to walk away from that. but deep down, i want him to. because even a Super Bowl, as important and redeeming as that would be for Philadelphia fans everywhere, might not be worth his time and energy right now.

there are two guys who have come to represent Philadelphia sports for me: Allen Iverson and Andy Reid. i’ve wanted so much for both of them to succeed, but the success i hoped for was success of a certain of kind. in recent years, life has been chaotic and painful for both men. when i consider this, i feel bad about being part of the horde that has driven them toward empty achievement and the veneer of glory. i think about all the guys whose lives and bodies are consumed by the incredible machine of professional sports, and i wonder if, in the end, all the money and words and obsessions do not inevitably leave a man empty in the end.

i’m not a fan of the Eagles today. i’m just a guy who has followed the life and work of Andy Reid, as one who likes him and wishes him the best. i hope that he can find his family during this terrible time. and i hope that we, the people who watch him, will let him heal

08.02.12

why does Dan Cathy make me so angry?

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:50 am by Administrator

in this post, i want to touch on three things:

1. why dan cathy’s comments on marriage make me so mad.
2. why my anger is ill-advised, immature, and even destructive.
3. why i believe that dan cathy and those like him are wrong.

Number one: why do dan cathy’s comments on marriage make me so mad?

Dan Cathy’s comments on marriage make me so mad for a couple main reasons. first, in his interviews and public statements, he seems remarkably entitled to his opinion on this very controversial issue, despite carrying no special authority on the matter. if there’s one thing very clear from the Biblical story, it’s that a man standing before God is entitled to nothing, much less an opinion. and the more influential one is in his society, the less entitled he can afford to feel regarding his feelings and opinions, because he is a representative of far more than just himself.

second, Dan Cathy makes comments on the basic “emotional DNA” of human beings which are presumptuous and derived not from biblical interpretation but rather from culturally-based biases. his sweeping generalizations imply that the children of same-sex couples invariably develop profound dysfunctionality as a result of lacking male and female role models in the home. his primitive mode of argumentation is remarkably analogous to that employed by those who have argued a biblical case against miscegenation.

Number two: why i know that my anger against him is ill-advised, immature, and destructive.

underneath my anger at Dan Cathy is my deeper sentiment about American Evangelicals who hold to the belief that homosexual marriage should be illegal. i hold them in more contempt than i regard Christians who picket abortion clinics or protest evolutionary teaching in schools. i feel this way because i am struck by the impossibility of their hypocrisy. Christians cannot discount gay marriage on account of a biblical concept of marriage without concomitantly discounting heterosexual marriage between nonbelievers. yet, this camp is not advocating that a declaration of faith in Christ be a legal prerequisite for marriage. what they are issuing is a targeted protest of homosexual marriage; and specifically, it is a targeted attack against the dignification of monogamy in gay relationship. when reframed as the latter, the viewpoint strikes me as arbitrary, prejudicial, and counter to the biblical premium placed on monogamous fidelity.

in holding this belief, i know that i am not unique. and i know that i am also not unique in my focused antipathy against other Evangelical Christians. it is not a stretch for me to say that i dislike self-professed Christians more than i dislike their non-Christian peers. people of the Book have always reserved their deepest hostilities for one another; and they have particular revulsion for each other because heresy is worse to them than unbelief. i don’t think it’s an exaggeration to state that American Evangelicalism is finding itself at a crossroads on account of this very issue of gay marriage.

it’s when i write these words, and when i position myself within this crisis of the church, that i realize my anger will be my undoing if i do not overcome it. my anger isn’t wrong because the battle is not worth fighting. it is absolutely worth fighting, or else the church will continue its journey toward irrelevance in American society. but my anger is ill-advised because it accomplishes nothing; and it is immature because i’ve already learned that my feelings are not my best guide on matters right and wrong. above all, my anger is destructive because it compels me to discount the faith experiences of those whose views on gay marriage might possibly be enmeshed with something that is true.

yes, i sense a threat in the manner by which Dan Cathy has presented himself and his views. but i need to stop short of roundly judging this as something innately inimical. Dan Cathy, among other things, is a symbol of something, and it’s something i must endeavor to understand if i’m going to dedicate myself to the church at large. i may disagree with him; but i cannot reduce his whole life to the one thing about him that i most loathe. i must constantly press myself to do the one thing that the popular media makes most difficult for me: to restrain myself from blanket judgments and swift anger; to submit myself and my opinions absolutely, to the point of self-effacement.

Lastly, number three: why Dan Cathy and his camp of outspoken gay marriage opponents are wrong.

what i’ve written thus far are the reasons for my anger, but they are not the reasons why Dan Cathy and those like him are wrong. Dan Cathy is wrong for what he has expressed because his public views on this issue subvert the cause of Christ in postmodern America. the one thing that Dan Cathy and i can agree on is that the worship of anything other than Christ is futile, tragic, and terrible. but Dan Cathy and i have learned nevertheless to survive and to persist in a pluralistic society, despite our daily witness of the godless practices in it. we have learned that marginalizing nonbelievers, disdaining religious tolerance, and agitating for uniform theocracy does not win hearts nor glorify God. thus, when we pick battles in the public arena, we do so not to legislate our morality or to punish those of other faiths but rather to demonstrate Christ’s most obvious characteristic: his love, made perfect in compassion.

if our goal were theocracy, then debating the morality of homosexual identity (not to mention marriage) would be imperative. but in this era, we are woefully misguided when we perseverate on an issue that accomplishes nothing except to remind others of the boundary that exists between those of conservative and liberal persuasions. what do we gain by obstructing the legalization of gay marriage when the most reprehensible marriages continue to be heterosexual marriages that are abusive, self-serving, and self-idolizing? what do we gain by legislating a moral stance on this one issue when there are so many more matters of conscience—extreme poverty, racism, violence, addiction, and other forms of antisocial godlessness—that demand action? does God really wish that in this place and time He be represented as the God who selectively despises homosexuals, while giving tacit blessing to the heathen heterosexuals who flaunt their social privilege?

i am wrong about my anger. but Dan Cathy is wrong about the way in which he represents himself as a man of faith. i fear him and those like him. i will never stop being afraid of these people and their beliefs. i make it my aim to stand up to them and to counter their social action with an equal and opposite reaction. i do it because if God is to be worshipped, then they cannot be entitled to their opinions—not in public, and not in this way

08.01.12

chick-fil-a

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:59 pm by Administrator

i never really was a big fan of chick-fil-a anyways, so they won’t miss my business.

to dan cathy: take my God out of your politics. you shame me; you shame us all.