Jesus is Lord

The election is over.

Hard to believe. Hard to believe it is over as well as the outcome, but a few thoughts are worth considering in the wake.

First, I have read numerous FaceBook posts, heard plenty of commentators, and spoken to any number of people who have suggested that a vote against Clinton was necessarily representative of sexism and misogyny. While that is an interesting conclusion, it is likely a gross generalization that intentionally misrepresents any number of people who, for reason of conscience or other reasons chose to place their votes elsewhere (and not necessarily with Trump).

Second, there has been an ongoing invective against “uneducated white males in rural areas” who supposedly voted for Trump. The assumptions about this demographic group are too many to list. The point, however, is that they are assumptions – nothing more. My hunch is that the majority of those writing, commentating, and posting have never even spoken to such a person. They are merely statistics.

I am guessing, of course, that had the election swung the other direction, the same sorts of characterizations of Clinton supporters would have been flowing out of the Trump camp. In fact that has been the case throughout the election often in the crudest of terms. We tend to be equal opportunity generalizers and stereotypers.

All of which leads to my final point. If we are truly interested in dialog as we say we are, and if we are truly interested in coming together, these sorts of caricatures and stereotyping must end. Are we really interested in hearing each other, the hurts, fears, and concerns of those not like us? Or are we really only interested in having the ‘other’ come to our way of thinking? One posture has the chance of leading to cooperation. The other posture has no chance.

As noted in my last post, Christians owe their fellow image bearers more than caricatures and stereotypes. We owe each other an ear to listen to people’s hearts, whether we agree or disagree with their political choices. There are a lot of hurting people in the world and in our backyards. This election made that clear if one listened carefully. Christian love and care may not run in only one direction. Our care and concern must reach from inner cities to rural communities, each with their own sets of problems as anyone who has spent time in both places knows.

And while I still feel a bit shell-shocked by this election, one thing I know:  Jesus is Lord.

3Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,

the Lord gives sight to the blind,
8the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

–Ps. 146:3-10 (NIV fromBibleGateway, accessed 11-9-16)

Election 2016 and the 9th Commandment

Like many people, I have had more than enough of the presidential campaign this year. In some ways that is true every year, but this year I became annoyed early on. The campaign has not focused on anything of substance. Rather, it has focused on trying to make each other look as bad as possible. I will refrain from direct comment on how much effort that likely took.

Over the past few days, I have completely turned off my radio, not watched TV, and avoided social media. The final game of the World Series was the last thing I watched. Regardless of my efforts, however, my phone still rang with obnoxious advertisements laced with half-truths.

Contrary to popular understanding, the 9th commandment is less about lying in general than it is about slander. The 9th commandment reads: “You shall not give false testimony about your neighbor.” It seemed to me as I listened to the political ads this season that the purpose of these soundbites is to do exactly what the 9th commandment forbids – give false testimony about your neighbor. And if the testimony is not blatantly false, it certainly bends the truth so that those listening will come to pre-determined false conclusions about the person in question.

That seems like a pretty fine line of moral distinction to me. And it seems wrong.

The Christian church to which I belong happens to use a particular 16th century document to help us understand and explain a variety of biblical truths. One part of this document goes through the meaning of each of the Ten Commandments.

Here’s what it says about the 9th: “God’s will is that I never give false testimony against anyone, twist no one’s words, not gossip or slander, nor join in condemning anyone without a hearing or without a just cause. . . And I should do what I can to guard and advance my neighbor’s good name.”

Did you notice both the negative and positive force of this explanation? I should not twist someone’s words or slander them. I should guard and advance my neighbor’s good name.

From my limited exposure to political advertisements, it appears that they violate both the negative and positive force of this commandment. And even if one thinks that this explanation of the 9th commandment pushes the boundaries too far, there is always the summary of the law given by Christ. There, after love for God, the second great commandment is to “love you neighbor as yourself.”

In what possible world could those sorts of advertisements be construed as loving one’s neighbor?

So what’s a Christian to do?

Well, at the very least, it seems that we could ignore the ads. But perhaps we should also take care to find out, to the best of our ability, what the truth of any given topic is. With that in hand, we could make sure that any discussions we are involved in do not allow for the slander or defaming of persons from ANY political party, not just our party of choice. By so doing, we show honor both to God, and to our neighbor, his image.

5,539 Miles

13 days, 13 states, 5,539 miles, Hoover Dam, 3 National Parks, and 1 wedding with family = an awesome vacation!

A week or so ago, on the day we returned, I posted this line on my Facebook page. I’m still high on the trip my husband and I took. We drove and camped our way to California, stopping along the way at a few places we had not been before and revisiting others.

We are not landscape snobs. Our family has generally driven cross-country to our destination. We have learned to ignore people’s remarks about places like Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. We have camped in all of those places, stopped along the road, and found that if one takes a little time in this “fly-over zone,” there is much to be appreciated. Each area of the country has its own peculiar beauty.

I admit that we were not exactly thrilled with the idea of driving through Nevada on our way home. But it turns out that beginning with the peculiar salt formations at Mono Lake all the way up to the northeast corner where it meets Utah, Nevada is a strangely beautiful place.

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I am also not particularly fond of the dry southwest. I brought plenty of lotion on this trip! But there too, the stunning colors that layer the land and the odd vegetation that is able to survive there have a beauty that is unmatched.

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It is not uncommon to hear people quote Psalm 19 when thinking about the creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Or Psalm 8: “When I consider the heavens, the moon and the stars that you put in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them?” The direction of the gaze is always up.

But while the night sky at Homolovi State Park and Death Valley National Park was stunning, so were the rocks, one of which is represented on the top of the page. If we did not praise God for the beauty of this world and his glory that was so evident in every place we traveled, I am certain that the very rocks would cry out, as Jesus indicated at his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

O Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.