If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop.The word on the news is that the media misconstrued what you said, Pat. Yeah...it sure sounds like folks misconstrued your statement. After all, you were pretty ambiguous there, buddy. If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.
(the now-infamous comments from pseudo-Christian Pat Robertson calling for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez)
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (spoken by the guy Robertson is supposed to be following, in John 13:34-35, NIV)
When will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?
(the chorus from the folk song, "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?")
The good news is, you now have a lot more in common with former president Bill Clinton tonight than you ever did, Pat ol' boy...because now you are both debating the definition of what "it" is. There's some real irony in that...
All in all, it's just another brick in the wall, I guess. Over the weekend, my good friend Tom S. was waxing somewhere between philosophical and opinionated about the way Christians have either actively persecuted the Jews, or looked blindly aside as Jews were being persecuted or murdered. Even in his small-town-Wisconsin upbringing, there were enough hurtful memories to rouse an impassioned response, decades later. Then he caught me a little slack-jawed when he said something to the effect of, "I sleep with one eye open around Christians."
I don't know if my face said it, but my very first thought was, "I'm a Christian...do you feel that way about me?" Then I thought, "As a matter of fact, your partner is a Christian, many of your good friends are Christians..." Then I thought, "Well, that depends on what you call Christian, doesn't it?"
Many times, I've wanted to say to people, "Yes, I'm a Christian - but not like them." Tom and I have had this same kind of discussion about Lutherans, and Luther - how at the end of his life, Luther wrote some hideously bitter, vitriolic crap about Jews being "the Christ-killers" (which he did, sadly) which was later used by Hitler as justification for turning millions of Jews into air pollution. And, of course, the majority of the Lutheran church (and Catholics, and the whole of Christianity except for bold saints like Dietrich Bonhoeffer) stood silent as it happened.
It's at times like this that I've wished that there was a way that the 90% of Luther's theology that focused on justification by grace could be preached (and lived) while actively denouncing the tragic anti-Semitism that colored the last years of a triumphal life. I hope that's what I'm living - but evidently it doesn't show.
And of course, Tom sees the loving, caring, accepting way that 95% of the Christian church reacts to gays, and justifiably sees his Jewish history happening to him all over again. The voices of evil are very loud - especially in the church - and the voices of good are ever so soft. I can't remember who said it, but it's true: The only way for evil to triumph is for good to be silent.
On another front, the 50th anniversary of the August 28, 1955 murder of Emmett Till has been in the news here lately. Emmett Till was a former Chicago resident, and much of his family was still here, though he was living in Mississippi when he was kidnapped and brutally murdered by racists. The trial and acquittal of the accused murderers galvanized the Civil Rights Movement and forever changed American society. In the Chicago media lately, there has been this same kind of very justified talk among the black community: "They did it to Emmett...they've done it to lots of us...and if they get the chance, they'll do it to us again." They see the collapse of the institutions which fought for civil rights, the erosion of the government policies designed to protect those rights, and they wait for the white men to come. And I, as a white man, become one of "them" by default.
Over the years, I've had friends. Some have been Jews, some have been Catholics, Protestants, straight, gay, black, Hispanic...it hasn't mattered. No matter the social gaffes I've made, the innate prejudices and attitudes that I've been raised with, I was always raised to accept people on their actions, not their appearance - and I was never raised to hate anyone. So it smarts (more than a little) to be tarred with the same brush as racists, anti-Semites, and gay-bashers.
I deplore violence; very early on, I fell in love with Isaac Asimov's great line, "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." But because I'm white, male, and believe in Christ, there is the assumption that I'm part of the ones who will be coming for the Jews, the blacks, the gays, the women, the underprivileged and the powerless (or I'll stand aside while others do the dirty work) - because that's what white Christian men have always done.
So the sin of guilt by association goes on. I guess I was a little hurt by Tom's comment on Saturday - but after some reflection, I can see how he (and a lot of folks) justifiably feel that way. I shouldn't be surprised when people who supposedly know me can look past my present actions and see a long history of injustice, abuse and violence, and "sleep with one eye open."
I just wish there was a way to denote follower of Christ* or white* or male* or American* that carries the asterisked footnote, "...but not like them." I guess the old song is really true, in the end - only way they'll be able to see the true Christians is by our love.
God, let me show that love today - let my actions speak louder than other people's preconceptions.