Category Archives: politics

Talkin’ ’bout proselytizing . . .

I admit, I am woefully out of touch with the political/popular culture/news networks/word-on-the-national-street scene.  I am.  But this whole Brit Hume thing hit my radar last night and again this morning.  Last night I heard about it on the “Daily Show with John Stewart” and this morning one of my friends linked to the article I just linked to.  Now, sure, sure, the fact that I watch the Daily Show says something about me, politically.  It does.  I admit.  But probably not as much as you might think.  I’m more of a political misfit than anything else.  That’s my full-disclosure disclaimer.  And I’m not going to say a whole lot specifically about the Brit Hume thing because I figure you can Google it and find out everything you want about it.

What struck me most about the article linked above is not the article itself, but comment #4 under the article.  I didn’t even read beyond comment 4.1 because I want to hope that 4.1 is accurate and I don’t want to discover otherwise.  And comment 4 was enough to get my dander up and start my rant a’ragin’ about proselytizing in general.  Although, I was using the word evangelizing.  In my world, they’re the same thing.  I looked up proselytize on the Mirriam Webster dictionary site and it says, “to induce someone to convert to one’s faith.”  When I look up evangelize, it says, “1. to preach the gospel to; 2. to convert to Christianity.”  So, to my reading, evangelizing is the Christian form of proselytizing.  I suspect I’ve lost some people right there.  That’s OK.

Now I’m going to say something shocking:  I don’t have a problem with proselytizing or evangelizing.  In fact, I make a living doing it.  Well, at this point I make a pittance because I do very little of it professionally, but still.  Ultimately?  It is my job not only to proselytize, but to equip others to do the very same thing.  My form of proselytizing is called evangelizing because of the root of that word, evangel, is a form of the phrase Good News and that’s the same as Gospel and that’s the story of Jesus I’m telling (that involves Greek and if you want me to draw it out a bit, I will, but I didn’t want to waste words flaunting my Greekiness 😉 ).   And, because I’m trying my darnedest to convince people that this Good News about Jesus is true–and, consequently, exclusively true–then, yeah.  I think you could safely call it proselytizing.

Now.  That being said . . . There is a way to evangelize and there is a way not to evangelize.  And to determine the effectiveness of one’s evangelistic tactics, I’ve devised a simple tool:

When you evangelize, do people

A.  run toward you, to hear more?  Or

B.  run screaming to get as far away from you as they possibly can, as fast as they can?

If you answered (A.) . . . Congratulations!  You are indeed evangelizing!  You are sharing Good News that is, apparently, being perceived as Good News and there is a strong possibility that God will use you to enlighten and enliven people to his Truth.

If you answered (B.)  . . . Sorry.  You lose.  Even if what you are sharing is Good News, it is not worth a darn if people don’t hear it as Good News and want nothing to do with you or your News.  Rather than evangelizing–or proselytizing–you are demonizing the Good News, presenting it in such a way that it sends people running as if from demons.  You are making a bad name for all Christians and, most heinous of all, for the name above all names, no other by which we must be saved, the Lord of all creation, Jesus Christ.

So.  Should Brit Hume should be called out on the carpet for proselytizing?  Well.  Probably not in the way it’s presently being done.  Because really, he wasn’t proselytizing.  Well.  He probably was proselytizing:  he might have been convincing people to convert to some faith, just not to his own Christian faith.  But whatever he was doing, he was not evangelizing.  Even if your News is Good, when you present it all wrong, you’re not going to convince anybody.  The fact that non-believers are running in the opposite direction should be proof enough of that.  So, really, the people being most vocal in their fury toward Brit Hume really have nothing to worry about, as he is doing nothing to convert people to Christ.  And the people who should be most annoyed by him, who should be doing the calling out and holding to account, are Christian believers, ones who are striving and doing their darnedest to succeed in making disciples of all nations.



Filed under Gospel living, politics, theologizing

A Day in History

I spent half the day today completely immersed in the Presidential Inauguration.  Tears streaming down my face.  Mostly I can’t get past the fact that, in the words (more or less) of the new President, 60 years ago his father would not have been served in a restaurant in DC.  And here he is.  That fact blows my mind.  The image of the new President and his family streaming into classrooms across the country, little kids for the first time seeing a president who looks like them, standing with his own children who look just like them, there on the television screen before the whole world.  Images of senior citizen African Americans with tear-filled eyes.  I can only imagine what all goes through their minds, what memories, what experiences, what gratitude.  What hope.

I’ve written about it before, but I couldn’t help writing about it again.  What a phenomenal day in the history of our country.  Now, I don’t know what the future holds, the man might drive us further along our path to ruin, but, frankly, I have that fear every four years.  But the inauguration of a President of the United States who looks so very different from the first 43 . . . stirs feelings of hope.  For all of humanity.

I neglected Hannah for half the day as I sat in front of the TV.  I tried to impress upon her what a HUGE day this was.  But.  She’s four.  She can’t possibly grasp it.  I’ll be happy if in the end she remembers this day as the day her mom got really excited about the new president and spent the day on the couch crying while she begged her to play.  I’ll be even happier if her brain struggles to wrap itself around just why, exactly, it was such a big deal that an African American was inaugurated president, so little will race matter.  Happier still if she has experienced seeing the inauguration of a president who looks like her.

Leave a comment

Filed under politics, presidential race

Presidential Race

So my last post was my first foray into things political. You may or may not have picked up on my trepidation. You may or may not have picked up on my desire to project somewhat of a neutral posture. You may or may not have bought into my neutrality. But I’m going to continue to try to maintain it as I reflect some on the results of this week’s election.

It’s been historic, this week. An African American president of the United States. Wow. I mean, growing up I was told it could happen. I was told to believe it was true. But still. It was so hard to wrap a head around.

I’m heartbroken over the fact that there are people who can’t just stop and appreciate that for what it’s worth, who are unwilling to stop and appreciate what it says about where we as a nation have come. That we have reached a point when this could happen. I mean, had Obama’s father been a US citizen, he still would not necessarily have been able to vote. Or vote easily, anyway. Obama’s father. One generation. One generation from “No, you can’t sit there.” “No, don’t use that entrance.” “No, your water fountain is over there.” To “Good afternoon, Mr. President.” Wow. I don’t understand how, whatever your political view, you can’t pause in wonder over that. How you can’t just give thanks for that little bit of good. Sure, you might be worrying our country is now well on its way down a paved path to hell. But come on, for just one moment, consider the possibility that our progress on racial prejudices distanced us, even just a tad, from our final, flaming destination.

I just keep thinking of all these little kids who learn in their social studies classes that anyone can grow up to be president. Anyone. And then one of them looks at the pictures of all the presidents and doesn’t see anybody who looks like him or his dad or his uncle or cousin. “Really? I can be president? But clearly I’m not qualified. I don’t look like a president.” We told him he could, but it really doesn’t look that way.

This concept was illustrated by my kids the other day. We’re not terribly political people. I mean, we pay attention, and we have our opinions, but it’s not a big part of our family discussions. My husband and I spend most of our time talking theological/church shop talk. However, this week, this historic election week, we have talked about it. We’ve probably talked about it because Isaac talked about it in school, participating in a mock election last week. So Monday or Tuesday dinner time, Hannah told Isaac that she wanted to be president when she grew up.

“No, Hannah, you can’t be president.”

Just tuning in to the conversation at this point, I asked, “What, Isaac?”

“Hannah says she wants to be president, but I told her she can’t.”

“Why can’t she be president?”

“Because she’s a girl.”

Hunh. Funny he should say that because less than six months ago I was introducing Isaac to Mrs. Hillary Clinton, a woman aspiring to be president of the United States. So, somewhere in his head is the notion that a woman can try to become president.

“Well, Isaac, why can’t she be president, even if she’s a girl?”

“Well all the presidents are men.”

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, all the presidents are men, therefore Hannah can’t be president. Come to find out Isaac’s library has poster portraits of all of the presidents on the wall. So, he’s seen the line-up and noticed Hannah doesn’t fit the profile.

“Isaac, women can be president, too.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

He’s not convinced. And I know we’ve had this conversation before. I know we’ve talked about how a man or a woman can be president. But he’s seen the evidence and he’s not convinced.

So I’ve started reflecting on that from the racial standpoint. “Sure,” we tell the boy or the girl with darker skin. “Sure you can grow up to be anything you want. You can grow up to be president!” Really? Because I don’t see any evidence of that fact. So I’m not sure I can believe you.

My experience with Isaac this week tells me that just telling a kid something doesn’t make it so in their heads. Really, anyone who has spent any time with children or studying about children knows that just telling a kid something doesn’t make it true for them. Children are, by their very nature, experiential learners. I mean that’s how they land on this planet: exploring their worlds to learn about it. That’s why baby’s eat everything. You can’t truly know something until you’ve tasted it. Thus says the baby brain. But seriously, all kids learn through doing. Mommy says don’t pull on this electrical cord. But does she mean it? Here. I’ll try again. And again. And again, because maybe she doesn’t mean it today. Even my Boy, a month or two ago felt like he had to experience why we tell him not to touch a hot iron. I mean, how hot is it? he needs to know. So he touches it. Yep. He touched the hot, unplugged iron. Because our telling him it was hot and would burn was not enough. He needed to see it, touch it, experience it.

So if my kid—who is of reasonable intelligence, I assure you—couldn’t believe a hot steaming iron would be incredibly, burning hot two minutes after it’s been unplugged, how’s a kid going to believe the up-until-now theory that anyone can grow up to be president? He has no empirical evidence whatsoever to show him that this is true. In fact, he has a line-up of 43 white guys telling him that the exact opposite is true.

Now, I’m not saying no kids can buy into it. And I’m not saying just because you can’t believe it when you’re a six-year-old experiential learner that you’ll never believe it, clearly that’s not the case. However. I am saying it matters. I am saying that when you’re six and you’re feeling that surge of independence from your parents and the first stirrings of aspirations for your future, you need to believe anything is possible. You need to see and feel and touch and hear what is really possible, in order to believe that you, too, can do it.

Going back to Isaac who didn’t think Hannah could be president because all the presidents were men. When I told him she could be, he changed his story to “Well, when Hannah grows up she can be the first woman president.” And despite the fact that I told him several times maybe there would be another woman president before then, he continues to go back to “Hannah could be the first woman president.” Not because he wants that honor for her, but because that’s all his head can wrap around. “She would have to be the first, because I have seen the others and they’re all men,” his brain says. He can’t extrapolate. He can’t think through the fact that there will be another 8 presidents before Hannah would be eligible to be president (please don’t check my math on that). He can’t because he’s six. No, if Hannah wants to be president, she has to be a trail-blazer. And that takes a whole other set of skills.

I want it all out there on the table before these kids. I think when you’re six you shouldn’t have to start confronting your obstacles right then. I don’t think that at this young age you have to muster the wherewithal to envision yourself blazing a new trail. I want you to know it’s possible for you because you’re human. And a US citizen. And that’s all that matters.

Not every person is gifted to be a trail-blazer. And I, for one, think that’s OK. Because I believe in gifts coming from a Gifter and I trust his shopping skills. Today I am grateful that all those kids who don’t look like the line-up of 43 don’t have to be gifted as trail-blazers to aspire to go as far as one can in our country. Today I’m grateful that those kids can look at number 44 and say, “Oh. You’re right. I can be president. And if I can be president, I can be anything.”

Now if number 45 would help my then eight- and five-year-olds see and know that they too can be president, that would be great.

Leave a comment

Filed under politics, presidential race

I get to do something really exciting today.

I get to vote.

I haven’t done any political talk here on my blog and I’ve barely done any political talk on my favorite message board. I’ve been thinking a lot and reading a lot, but not really talking a lot. And I’m really going to keep it that way, at least where the specific candidates and issues are concerned. Some are gifted with great political minds and are called to speak about such issues. I am not one of those people.

Theology is my game. And it’s not that theology does not inform political thoughts and opinions. On the contrary. Theology should be at the core of any Christian’s political convictions. But I don’t feel called to tell anyone what political conclusions to draw from Biblical, theological convictions. Only to remind people to do just that. To completely intertwine one’s theology–one’s faith–with one’s assessment of all things social, cultural, and political. To ask not What is best for our country? but What is best for the furthering of God’s Kingdom? Because at the end of the day, that is where our primary citizenship lies. In God’s Kingdom.

Before we are a Democrat or a Republican, before we are a liberal or conservative, before we are an American, we are Children of God. Citizens of God’s Kingdom that is already established and yet to be consummated. And because of that, we can take comfort in knowing that even our great nation is not completely sovereign. Not over us as individuals and not over itself. All nations are nations “Under God” whether they say it or know it or not. All of life is under God. His will, his sovereignty, his power.

My trust for the future, whatever it may be, lies in knowing the One who holds it in his hands. The One who calls all things to work together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. The One who led his people through the desert for forty years, guiding them and holding them lovingly in his hands, even as he didn’t give them exactly what they wanted. The One who opened up his covenant promise to go beyond a nation, to extend to individuals–man, woman, child–who are called to him as children and joint heirs to the Kingdom. The only Kingdom that really matters.

Today I get to do something very exciting. I get to be a part of my beloved nation’s history, casting my vote for the candidate for whom I believe, after prayer and reflection, God is calling me to vote. But more than that, I am participating in God’s history. Taking part in God’s sovereign plan for all of humanity, for all of his children, regardless of their earthly citizenship. I don’t know how it will all look in the meantime, but I do know, beyond a doubt, that the meantime is in God’s hands while the end culminates in God’s ultimate victory. Thanks be to God that He knows what He’s doing, especially when the rest of us do not.

Leave a comment

Filed under politics, theologizing