Angst

I exist
in the prison
of my attention deficit desires.
I AM passionate.
You could accuse me of THAT!
But my passions run
hither
                                                                  thither
                                                                                                                                               and yon.
I want
to do/say/write/speak/act
amilliondifferentthingsatonce.
Therefore,
I am often paralyzed
and NOT
effective.
I. shut. down.
What will become of this
fr                      ag                    me                  nt                ed
young man?
What path will I travel?

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No, I’m sorry, but no…

On August 29th, 2008, Barack Obama said in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention:

“America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise – that American promise – and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess. Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.”

I heard that speech in its entirety.  It was, by and large, a pretty decent one.  But to the section I’ve quoted above, I have to say, “No, Barack.  I’m sorry, but no.”

Your speech was full of good, solid thinking on the problems of America and some solutions we can strive for together.  But I was deeply saddened at your last few sentences.  I’m not knocking the American promise; we can work together as people for the good of this country.  But Barack, the American promise is not the hope that we confess.  You claim to be a Christian, a claim that should not be made lightly, and Christians are held accountable to the Scripture that roots us as a people.  Last I checked, in that Scripture you quoted a little bit of, Jesus is the hope that we confess, and his global kingdom is the goal we progress towards as people, not America.

Barack, you have shown a balanced, principled approach to leadership in this country.  But in pursuit of being “balanced,” you have either allowed your discipleship to be co-opted by your political interests or you have presented yourself as someone without any serious, totalizing commitment to Christ that might make you look foolish in the eyes of others.  Whether this is a method or the real thing, Barack, Jesus expects more out of you, and it saddens and angers God when we place other things or commitments in the place only he can occupy.

And Barack, one more thing.  I know you have to say “God bless America” or you’ll be written off as a unpatriotic heretic.  Another one of those hurdles you have to jump through to be elected in this country. But please, in your politics and in your speech, will you represent the larger blessing we pursue, the one that reads “God bless the world”?  Clearly, America is not God’s kingdom, but there is a Biblical commitment among those who are blessed (in this case with material things); they are blessed to be a blessing.  Blessed to have a genuine concern for all the world’s citizens and all the rest of God’s creation; the kind of concern that leads us beyond America an into the major global moral issues of our day.  Please talk about/exemplify that, Barack.

 

On September 3rd, 2008 at the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney said:

Just like you, there has never been a day when I was not proud to be an American. We inherited the greatest nation in the history of the earth. It is our burden and privilege to preserve it, to renew its spirit so that its noble past is prologue to its glorious future. To this we are all dedicated and I firmly believe, by the providence of the Almighty, that we will succeed. President McCain and Vice President Palin will keep America as it has always been – the hope of the Earth. Thank you, and God bless America.

I also listened to his whole speech.  I can’t say much good about his larger message, but especially in the above quotation, I was horrified and now must say, “No Mitt.  I’m sorry, but no.”

America is not and has not ever been the hope of the Earth.  As a disciple of Jesus, I firmly reject your statement.  In the incredible, beautiful letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul makes a powerful statement.  It is  may not come with the weight of an entire army behind it, nor will it come with economic might, but it is the truth nonetheless.  Here is Paul’s confession;

“For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written:

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing hymns to your name.” Again, it says,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and sing praises to him, all you peoples.” And again, Isaiah says,
The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
the Gentiles will hope in him
.”

Mitt, you’re a Gentile like me, so this passage is addressed to us.  It seems that the prophet Isaiah proclaimed that Jesus rules over the nations, and that the Gentiles (joining with the Jewish people) will hope in him.  So no, Mitt, America is not the hope of the earth.

And Mitt, isn’t it a little myopic of you to make the claim that America always has been the hope of the earth?  Are you aware that America has only existed for 232 years?  And if you’re looking beyond the relatively short existence of America to make a larger claim, are you trying to say that all of history has anticipated the rise of the American nation so that it may, finally, have hope?  Mitt, forgive me for being direct, but that’s, frankly, deluded, not to mention deeply vain.

I would encourage you, Mitt, to read a story of someone else that got a little too big for his own britches, trusted a little too much in his own power, believed that every other nation had anticipated his people’s rise. His name (a little confusing to pronounce) was Nebuchadnezzar.  For all intents and purposes, his kingdom was the most powerful around.  People quaked in their boots when they heard ol’ King Neb was coming.  King Neb had a dream, though, a disturbing one. You can read about it in the prophetic book of Daniel, chapter 4.  The dream was about a great and beautiful tree. In King Neb’s words,

“Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.”

Pretty amazing tree, right?  But in the King’s dream, the tree was cut down by a certain “holy messenger.”  It disturbed the King, so he asked one of his royal advisors, Daniel (or Belteshazzar), what it meant.  Daniel had some bad news.  Forgive me for quoting his whole answer, Mitt, but I doubt you’ll go to read the chapter, being that you’re more interested in attacking liberals than in seeking the Scriptural truth.  Here’s Daniel’s words.

“My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air- you, O king, are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.”

Does that sound a little like America, Mitt?  I’m going to bold the parts you might like to reflect on for a bit. Daniel continues;

“You, O king, saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live like the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’

“This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

Mitt, I’m not sure if you caught that.  Not only did King Neb get the reminder that he wasn’t the Grand Kahuna (or “the hope of the earth,” in your words), but Daniel reminded him of a social reality; good governance that God blesses is that which is “kind to the oppressed.”  In addition to recognizing who’s the real hope of the Earth, if you’re able to look past your political buzzwords that flush the faces of partisan hacks, America’s material prosperity is intended to flow from us outwards in a conscious commitment to the oppressed.  

Here’s a couple good questions, Mitt.

Who are the oppressed in our world?  

Who or what is oppressing them?

And how are these people reacting in order to gain a voice in the world?  

These are compelling questions that may lead you to dis-ease with your confident pronouncements.

I’m sorry about ranting a bit here, Barack and Mitt (well, not really).  

You see, I’m tired of politicians invoking the name of God while essentially spitting in his face as they do whatever they want.  I know that’s not just the politicians’ problem; heck, it’s a general global one.  But I’m about to the end of my rope with you guys, and profoundly dissatisfied with how American politics has descended into a conversation I could imagine with first-graders in my local elementary school.  

“You’re stupid.”  
“No, you’re stupid.”
“You have a fat nose and you’re poor.”  
(The other kids’ varied responses  “Ooooo” “Oh no you didn’t!”  Some laughing, others appalled).  

Barack, you’ve shown a commitment to attempting to rise above this stuff, and so far you’ve done an OK job.  I hope you keep to that.

In closing, I will say that I hope that both of you understand why I don’t expect a whole lot out of you, with the present state of things being what it is.

Again, who’s responsible?

As I asked in my post below several days ago, I will ask again.  Five Afghan children were killed yesterday by NATO forces in a botched artillery strike.  Five people created in the image of God, people sustained actively by God.  People who, if we have an consistent pro-life ethic, should be bitterly mourned.  Who will be prosecuted for their deaths?  Where will their parents turn for justice?  

Who is responsible?

That’s my boy!

jimmy carter

I don’t know if you had caught this developing story today or not, but Jimmy Carter (a man I look up to very very much) is working hard for progress in the Palestinian/Israeli peace process.  Today, he met with senior Hamas officials in Cairo in the hopes that some common bond could be built.  What made me say, “Attaboy Jimmy!” was the first couple lines from the article,

Former President Carter met with senior Hamas officials in the Egyptian capital today, rankling the Israeli and US governments, which say it runs counter to their policies of not negotiating with terrorists.

Later in the article, the same thing stuck out to me.

During his stop in Israel, most officials- including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert- refused to meet with Carter, angry over his insistence that Israel should talk to Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union.

I hope you don’t misinterpret my “Attaboy!” for a blank check endorsement of Hamas as a legitimate governing authority, because that’s not my intent at all. In fact, Hamas has done a tremendous amount of violence and evil on its part over the years that have burned bridges with Israeli people and deeply set back the Israel/Palestine peace process.

My attaboy really has two main dimensions;
1) Jimmy Carter’s got some serious stones to do what he’s doing now

Bigger ones than Ehud Olmert, Khalid Meshaal, or George Bush, at least. Either these “leaders” are so completely blinded to the complex issues that surround seeking peace in this area or are continuing to willfully play off others’ fears, because there’s been plenty of black/white simplistic answers coming from these parties.Jimmy’s in pursuit of solutions and healing, and he’s willing to ask hard questions and meet with the unmeetable because he knows peoples’ lives (both Palestinian and Israeli) hang in the balance. And peoples’ lives are always, ALWAYS more important than the wounded pride and ego of choosing to embrace those you have hated so long you almost don’t remember why.

2) Jimmy Carter’s smart enough to know “terrorist” is just a label that all kinds of organizations throw around, usually to demonize the opposing party in the hopes that your folks will come off smelling like roses, all righteous and stuff. Terrorism is in the eyes of the beholder.

I wrote a few posts awhile back highlighting this fact.

1) One post focused on the reports early in March of a Tomahawk cruise missile attack on an al-Qaeda operative in Somalia.

The Pentagon confirmed that the U.S. military struck a target against a known al-Qaeda terrorist, and I’m sure this was the point at which your average story-reader (especially American) stopped reading. But buried at the bottom of the article, we’re told that the strike destroyed two houses, killed three women, three children, and wounded another twenty people. Now in the bigger scheme of things (beyond the Pentagon thinking they rode in on their white horse, accomplished justice, and rode back out again), how much do you think that missile strike affected that town of Dhoobley? The families of the killed? The injured? The memories that will remain for generations in that small town? The (justified) hatred that Tomahawk will inspire in them? Who comes off as a terrorist organization for the people in Dhoobley? I’ll let you handle that one yourself.

2) Another post focused on a story that emerged April 1 also related to the American government. The story, reporting on a Justice Department memo to Bush, stated

The president’s wartime power as commander in chief would not be limited by the U.N. treaties against torture. Legal counsel John Yoo wrote, “Our previous opinions make clear that customary international law is not federal law and that the president is free to override it at his discretion.”

What would be the definition of a terrorist organization? Maybe one that openly flaunts international law and does what it decides is right, with the good of all over-ridden by their own interests? The U.S. fits the description in this case.

3) And the third post had to do with the very Israeli/Palestinian relationship Carter is addressing right now.

It seems Hamas got a sweet whiff of what might bring lasting positive change in the shattered relationship by choosing not to suicide bomb a marketplace, but instead mobilize the people of Palestine in non-violent protest against the unjust security wall Israel has been building. Israel caught a whiff of this plan, and here was their response;

The army intends to prevent the marchers from advancing on the fence when they are still inside the Strip, using various means for crowd dispersal according to a ring system: The closer the marchers get to the fence, the harsher the response.The army plans to fire at open areas near the demonstrators with artillery that the Artillery Corps has been moving to the area over the past couple of days. If the marchers continue and cross into the next ring, they will face tear gas. If they persist, snipers could be ordered to aim for the marchers’ legs as they approach the fence.

It’s not an un-related point that Israel has been building the security walls inside the borders of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while acquiring land for settlements by driving Palestinian farmers off the land, refusing to let them back on, and squatting on the land until they declare it “unoccupied” and thus free for illegal settlers to move on.

It is Israel’s handling of this situation that led to Desmond Tutu calling the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians “apartheid.” I think Desmond Tutu would know. It also led to Jimmy Carter writing a book entitled “Peace not Apartheid.” Both men have been charged with anti-Semitism, a challenge that carries baggage since the Holocaust happened only 70 years ago. In this situation though (with both men being followers of Jesus) Jimmy and Desmond weren’t spitting hatred but speaking truth to power, and thinking of the long-term good of both Israelis and Palestinians.

A good example of what not to do, of simplistic and close-minded thinking came from Condolezza Rice (who could’ve been working on this relationship for three and a half years already), who said she found it “hard to understand what is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is in fact the impediment to peace.” Well, Condi, Hamas plays a role in the problem, yes. But so does Israel in their state terror on the Palestinian people. And so does the United States in giving a blank check to Israel of support. You’re the Secretary of State of the United States of America, and that’s all you can come up with?

*UPDATE TO ADD* Carter made a speech today (4/21/08 ) as a result of his talks in the region that (surprise surprise) includes concessions Hamas would be willing to make as a result of direct talks. Here’s a quote

Carter urged Israel to engage in direct negotiations with Hamas, saying failure to do so was hampering peace efforts.

“We do not believe that peace is likely and certainly that peace is not sustainable unless a way is found to bring Hamas into the discussions in some way,” he said. “The present strategy of excluding Hamas and excluding Syria is just not working.”

Taking out al-Qaeda?

A U.S. submarine fired a Tomahawk missile into southern Somalia today, directed towards a suspected al-Qaeda operative named Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.  The Pentagon confirmed the hit, which was carried out near the town of Dhoobley, Somalia.

Here’s the link to the story

Take care to ignore the last few lines for the sake of the “ignorance is bliss” principle. Besides, they were just “collateral damage” anyways.

collateral

On Paradoxes (some Monday thoughts)

A mini-letter to the church, and some honesty to challenge me.

I am needed.
I am important.
I am special.
I am not needed.
I am a grain of sand in a seashore full of them.
This world will go on without me.

Sound contradictory? Explanation provided by Barbara Brown Taylor in Leaving Church;

“I decided to take a rest from trying to be Jesus……not today. Today I will consent to be an extra in God’s drama, someone off to the side watching the scenery unfold with self-forgetfulness that is not available to me at center stage. Today I will bear the narcissistic wound of knowing that there are others who can say my lines when I am not there, including some who can say them better, and that while God may welcome my willingness to play a part, this show will go on with or without me, for as long as God has breath to bring players to life. Today I will take a break from trying to save the world and enjoy my blessed swath of it instead. I will give my thanks for what it is instead of withholding my praise until all is as it should be. If I get good enough at this, I may be able to include my sorry self in the bargain.” (141-42)

Catch the paradoxes? Barbara struggles with “narcissism” and yet sometimes views herself as “sorry,” wants to be “center stage” and yet wants to be satisfied with being “extra,” needed, yet not needed.

Psalm 113 speaks;
“Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, you his servants.
Praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust,
and the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord.”

Paradoxes; the Lord is exalted above the nations, far above the heavens. He doesn’t need any of us, or even the Earth for that matter. Multiple times in Scripture it seems like God is considering cleaning the slate and starting all over again with us pesky humans. And if he did, he would be justified in doing so. We’ve really made a mess of things. And yet, this exalted God stoops down into the dust and ashes for the sake of the poor and needy and walks alongside the barren mother. We matter; especially those who have been told they don’t matter by twisted human society.

The more I read about this God in Scripture (which confronts and challenges the God I thought I knew of by myself), the more I am astounded at how distinct and set-apart and glorious He is, and even more so by the mind-blowing care he gives to this flawed, twisted creation he has made. The length and breadth and depth of this God, who expects us to interact with His creation in the way He does; to tend to the earth that he has called “good,” to invest ourselves in other humans whom he has called “very good,” and to elevate the status of those our world deems unimportant to stand alongside us as brothers and sisters. This is who this God is.

And this God is sharply distinct from the God the Christian institution has often presented in the past and present.

Sometimes (shoot, a LOT of times), I get angry that we the church have allowed ourselves to be so swallowed up in our cultural environments that we neglect the poor in favor of economic security, neglect the barren mother because her problems aren’t answered by a Max Lucado devotional, neglect our enemies in favor of national security, and neglect an honesty about ourselves that we aren’t the center of the universe. God is clear about this sort of lifestyle in Scripture. He will curse us when we live in this fashion.

Do we care enough about this situation to seek to change it? And do we have the humility to know that it doesn’t all, ultimately depend on us? Will we have the guts and courage to seek to work hard at times and take time to enjoy this astounding creation around us other times? Can we have hope, the kind that’s grounded in the reality that things are not as they should be? Will we have the guts and courage to know that life is a series of conversions from our limited, twisted perspective to a more whole, more true, more life-giving, more God-centered, God-glorifying life? Do we have the guts and courage to know that this commitment touches everything from sexual purity and marital faithfulness to questioning consumerism and individualism and nationalism and patriotism, as well as a deep concern for the health of the earth we have had entrusted to us to tend?

How can we faithfully think and pray and act?

Paul in Philippians 1;

“(I) will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two; I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…for it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him…”

We are needed, but we are not. Life is complex and sometimes sucks, but we cannot change the gospel so that it denies the complexity and suckiness and tells us to forget the world around us as we wait for heaven (only to find that this lack of action may lead us to another place entirely). We will get frustrated, but we cannot quit. We will hate to be in the company of people who call themselves the church but look much more like the world; people who talk of the world’s sins but ignore their own. We will find that our discomfort with hanging around them is usually a projection of our own individual failure to love others (a hidden indictment that we are as guilty as they). We will want to leave them for the blissful comfort of our individuality and denial of our complicity in the problem, but we are called to find that we are called into community in all its discomfort and joy.

The truth is uncomfortable, but that is why it’s the truth, in all of its uncomfortable suckiness.

A Black Friday reflection…

cobalt Just a couple thoughts to offer today.  I’ve had a chance to think in the last year or so about this “freedom” Americans often claim our army is fighting for.  I hear it everywhere in our society as a phrase to clobber both naive pacifists and traitorous liberals with different ideas about how Iraq should have been handled.  As I’ve wrestled with what this is all about, I’ve done my best to keep my ears peeled eyes open for others working through this same issue.  I happened to come upon an interview online of one of my mentors-through-proxy (Internet and books substituting for face to face interaction) Stanley Hauerwas that shocked me. I didn’t know what to make of it at first, but as time has passed, it’s making more sense to me.  Check it out;

“In his reflections on Sept. 11, Hauerwas uses the term ‘American imperialism’ matter-of-factly. He’s not afraid to humanize those who flew jets into buildings on Sept. 11, and to point out what he calls ‘the loneliness of the American people,’ a loneliness he says is tied to their pursuit of happiness.’On Sept. 11, Americans were confronted by people ready to die as an expression of their profound moral commitments,  Hauerwas said in his Silk Hope talk earlier this year. ‘Their willingness to die stands in stark contrast to a politics that asks of its members in response to Sept. 11 to shop.’  

‘Americans are, for the most part, good, decent and hardworking people, but so were the people that supported the Nazis.’  Hauerwas said he worries about ‘how goodness can become deeply corrupted by its innocence….most of the time innocence is deeply immoral because it is such a lie not to acknowledge that we live in a very complex world that we benefit from, and we don’t have to acknowledge the havoc our benefits depend upon.’  

While those who loathe the United States are willing to die as an expression of their hatred, Hauerwas said U.S. citizens have no comparable moral conviction on which to base their lives.  “A people who have been bred to shop then can quickly become some of the most violent people in the world,” Hauerwas said, “exactly because they’re dying to have something worth dying for. 

 

Before you get too upset (like I initially did), read the quote five or six times, then take a couple hours (or months) the chew on it from time to time.  I’ve come to see it as deeply insightful over time.  The question he raises is relevant; what does “freedom” represent in America, and at what cost is that American freedom perpetuated?  

Example after example in the last few months has proven to me Stanley’s suggestion that “freedom” in our society directly translates to “shopping.”  If it does not, what is the comparable conviction Americans have to bring that they’re willing to fight for?  The right to vote?  Maybe so, but check out the percentages of folks that exercise that right when the time rolls around.  Right to freedom of religious expression?  How many American folks are really, I mean really, deeply invested with the whole of their lives in the religion (often Christian) they claim? Precious few.

So what IS the mark of American (and by extension, Western) society that takes up most of our attention, time, energy, thoughts and dreams?

I’d suggest it’s cash money, the jobs it takes to get more, the marketing that competes for us to exercise our right to buy their stuff, and the sheer amount of stuff we can buy with that cash.    

Our “holidays” of Christmas and Easter are perfect examples of this.  If those who claimed to be Christian truly deeply valued and respected the two most holy celebrations of their year, they would be up in arms about the mockery our secular society has turned them into. Heck, witches and black-magic practicioners should be pissed at how secularism has changed the height of their year (Halloween) into an avalanche of candy and cute little costumes.  In short, consumerism has taken every day holy and sacred to competing traditions, subverted them, and marketed them under completely different pretenses and seeking different ends.  So now we have Santa Claus (the original Saint Nicholas has to be rolling over in his grave), The Easter Bunny, Thanksgiving football and excess amounts of turkey and stuffing, and Valentine’s Day (a boon for the diamond and Hallmark card industries) as examples.  More examples exist, and they all reveal the central value our society upholds; money, what it takes to get it, and (for marketers) more and more innovative ways to convince consumers they need to spend it on YOUR product. 

Which brings us to Black Friday, the official holiday of the hallowed First Day of Christmas Shopping, the most profitable day of the year for businesses and the height of capitalism.  The day where we consumers camp out at our Best Buys and Kohls and JCPenneys and shopping malls so that at midnight or 4 am or 6 am (whoever opens first) we may spend our money on things we don’t need.  But we have the right to!  

Nobody tells me where I can or can’t spend my money, not no A-rabs or dem Chi-nese or nobody!  

And THIS, my friends, is why Stanley Hauerwas is so spot-on in his diagnosis of our society.  We have nothing to fight for in our society but a vague notion of freedom in need of definition.  And the definition has come to mean the right to shop.  We claim freedom of choice, yet our naivete about our individual capability to make good choices as if we weren’t slaves to marketers reveals not only that we aren’t free, but that we’re overconsumed and cynical and bored.  The system keeps us entertained but unfulfilled, and we are shocked by the possibility that someone would give up that right and fight to recover another vision of what life is to be about.  It’s a clashing of civilizations, the dominant one secular (NOT Christian) and competing visions daring to suggest their commitment is more life-giving and worthy of sacrifice. 

This is a series of unfinished and slightly incoherent thoughts, I’m sure, but Black Friday in all its glory shoved me back to the place inside me Hauerwas twisted into a mess with his comment.  I’d encourage you to wrestle with it.

 In closing, I’ll leave you with one of the most prophetic bands I know of around these days, “The Cobalt Season”, and some of the lyrics from their deeply honest lament/hopeful song “Like Jesus“;   

 

And friends, Romans, countrymen

Won’t you lend me your ears?

This Holy American Empire

Gotta tell you it’s crumblin’ down

To the ground

 

’Cause everything’s for granted

And nothing is for sure

So let’s grab a Starbucks baby

And let’s spend a little more

 

Forget about the dreams we had

Just work and sleep until we’re dead

Are we blind to what’s ahead?

 

Oh Lord, how long?

 

When memory’s for granted

Nothing is for sure

And history goes round and round

As we long for something more

 

We lie and wait for better days

With hope and fear and joy and dread

Or just ambivalence to what’s ahead?