August 21, 2009

The New American Religion Behind the Growing American Rage

The New American Religion Behind the Growing American Rage

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I do sense there is this murky prelude to culture war (or holy war as Richardson calls it) brewing. I sensed it in 2004 when broken crosses were used to spell "God Bless the USA" on our campus lawn in front of the chapel. I sense it today in this anger over health care that is really nothing about health care. Richardson's interview is interesting and he helps us to relate and empathize with his subject, while at the same time leaving the reader, me at least, with the same sense of forboding that he himself feels.

I agree. There are people who are strongly convicted on both sides. My fear is that a war is brewing, a war that none of us really want to see happen, a deep cultural war that will tear apart our communities. I'm not in the middle on this cultural divide. I know what side I'm on. I know what side family and friends are on. And I'm so tired of family being torn apart that perhaps this struggle just seems like a little too much to handle right now. I don't even want to think about what will happen if the flood gates really open.

Perhaps it's always been like this. Perhaps my twenty-seven year old mind is just a little naive to think that we are the first to have these conversations. I know that nothing is new under the sun. I know that Jesus said that we must hate our mother and father, meaning that there are times when we have to let go of those family ties to stand up for what is true. I know these cultural wars surrounded Vietnam, and McCarythism/Red Scare.

But what are the roots of these differences? How can I and my neighbors really be so different? Don't we have the same internal anatomy? Don't we all have flesh and blood and hearts and minds? Aren't we all living in the same world? Hearing the same news? (well, no, actually)

It's not just generational. It's not just religious. It's not even just political - although there is where the line seems to be most clearly drawn. These differences seem to be so deep that when we encounter the same issue, we see completely different things. When we see the same news story presented, we feel different things. When we talk about an issue - we can use the EXACT SAME WORDS and have the EXACT SAME CONCERNS (as was the case in my conference's debate on the world-wide nature of the church amendments) and vote in the exact opposite way! Because our minds are already made up. The fear and distrust is already there. The lines have already been drawn and we know what side we are on.

I recently found out about outlawpreachers. It's kind of a nebulous term loosely used to describe a bunch of ministers and christians who preach nothing but the love and grace of God. At least that's how I am hearing it. That's what I'm clinging to right now. In the midst of the division and fingerpointing and name-calling, and fear on both sides, I'm clinging to the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ. That's it. That is the source of all hope and promise. And it may be the ONLY way out of this mess.

(All of this being said - this is the very first post that I have tagged the words hate and religion. That says a lot.)


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  2. Yeah it sure does feel as if we are all talking past each other. My wife and I (well mostly her) have carried on conversations with members of my own family where we have to just say "nothing we will be able to say to one another will can change each others minds." Honestly it scares me what might happen to this country if someone makes it impossible for our Prez to complete his 1st term in office.