Monday, March 11, 2024

A Christ-Follower's Reflections on Faith & U.S. Politics/Church

 U.S. History and Church history have always been my favorite subjects.  But in my almost 69 years I have never seen nor imagined that both entities would fall so radically out of whack.  Nor would I have thought it possible that basic institutions within each would be reverting backward in time to ages and battles already fought and supposedly settled.

 It is mid-March 2024 and the US presidential election is fast falling into full swing.  Except for the rubber stamping of respective political conventions, the main two candidates have been selected: Donald J. Trump for the Republican party and Joseph Biden for the Democratic party.  The differences between them couldn’t be starker.  One, the present incumbent President, is a near-life-long politician with extensive experience in Congress and the White House.  The other is a one-term President under multiple criminal and civil indictments with significant monetary fines already placed against him.  He continues making unproven claims of a rigged election four years ago.

The Church is in almost as much disarray. While there has been a wide spectrum from conservative to liberal churches for many decades, for the past decade or so, a polarizing spirit has taken hold. The soul representing the Church has become a cacophony of bickering voices, often with an angry, unforgiving pitch.  In addition, a large segment of disgruntled, angry, traumatized individuals have disaffiliated themselves from the Church and are openly hostile toward it. In all spheres, social media has mostly only magnified the intensity and list of grievances and wrongs.

This is going to be a set of treatises aimed at promoting daily faith reflection and, hopefully, providing an oar of hope with which to paddle one’s canoe through the roiling, oily, odorous swamp. We shall see.

Day One:

Then the Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus, asking for a sign from heaven to test him. Sighing deeply in his spirit, he said, “Why does this generation look for a sign?  I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to this generation.”  Mark 8:11-12

“Sighing deeply in his spirit…”  That captures it exactly. The challenges of dealing with the bubbling stew of competing “truths” and conspiracies/misinformation abound in a social pressure cooker that is pretty banged up and dented already from three long years of viral violence wrought by COVID-19, leaving most of us exhausted, stressed, on-edge, and weary.  Where can we find a sign or a signpost pointing us to relief from a sense of ever-building calamity?  Jesus’ response is not very helpful to us: “No sign will be given…”  But the sign they were looking for had already been given.  They just didn’t want to see it or couldn’t because their mindset blocked them from seeing.

The problem with mindsets, stereotypes, and crazy notions planted in our craniums is that, too frequently, they predispose what we see to a fantasy interpretation our brains paint.  It is like when a friend is speaking, and if they pause momentarily in mid-sentence, we jump in to finish their sentence for them, except that we get it completely wrong.

The Jewish hierarchy didn’t want to believe Jesus was the Messiah, and the works he was doing were so fantastic that “you’d be a dope to believe he was really doing that.” Jesus had signs all over the place, and they simply were never going to accept them because of their bias.

So, what biases and mindsets are predetermining what we see happening before our very eyes?  Perhaps just as important, can we use knowledge of Jesus and how our brains work to “pre-program” how we interpret what we see/hear?  What if we took Jesus’ signs and sayings as The Program?  How would we change our approach to the “news” or the vitriol/grievances flying left and right?

I’ll be laying out some possibilities and proposals in the coming days.


What do you think about Jesus’ signs?

Who has had the most influence on your understanding and beliefs about Jesus?

Are you open to exploring other interpretations and understandings of faith? Why or why not?

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