Sunday, November 02, 2008

Broken Hearted

I really don't get it. This morning at church, an older man that I (and my wife) have a great deal of respect for, told Chris that he questioned our Christianity and lost all respect for us because we have chosen to support Sen. Obama for President.

Personally, I can take it. I'd write it off as a curmudgeonly old man that doesn't really know how to express his disappointment in our differences. I'd just forgive him his ignorance and move on. But it really hurt Chris. I'm in a bit of a quandary as to what to do about it, though. It seems a bit mean spirited to confront the old guy and tell him that he can say whatever is on his mind to me but to stay away from Chris. On the other hand, doing nothing is really against my nature. Somebody has attacked and hurt my wife! Normally, Chris is a tough girl and I have learned that you don't want to cross her. The judgment of her Christianity is something that I'm sure she'd shrug off (I'm sure that she's confident of what she believes), but the part about this old man losing all respect for her really got to her. She was in tears as she told me about it. She serves on two committees with this man and is already concerned about how that interaction will be in the future.

I don't understand how we are able to let such petty differences come between us. And why does it always seem like it's the ones that should be forgiving (the religious right) that are the most hateful and divisive? Another young man from our church (serving at another church now) has expressed that he has lost friends over political differences; friends that said they could be his friend if he held to those political beliefs.

I'm going to go out on a limb and make a prediction about Wednesday, November 5th.

When I get up on the 5th, I predict that God will still be on His Throne, He will still be Sovereign, the United States of America will still be my home and I will still proudly claim citizenship in both the United States of America and the Kingdom of God. The rules of love your God and love your neighbor will still be commands for the ages and hopefully a divided nation can begin to heal. All-in-all, I don't expect that my life will differ a great deal between November 4th and November 5th.

Go vote!



Bilbo said...

"...why does it always seem like it's the ones that should be forgiving (the religious right) that are the most hateful and divisive?" Good question, John. You and Chris have made the decision that you believe is right, and no one has the right to insult you for doing so. It's a shame that political differences can divide us as much as - if not more than - the choice of how we chose to believe in God (or not). Your prediction for the 5th is spot on. See you at the polls, if only virtually!

Anonymous said...

John - Some so-called Christians give us all a bad name. This guy at your church needs to be taking a long look in the mirror and asking himself questions about his own Christianity.

Thank God that He loves us no matter what we do or don't do or who we vote for or don't vote for. Tell your wife the best way to deal with this guy is to forgive him and to pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to him how hurtful he was. He is the one who needs to be asking for forgivness. She needs to treat him like she always has. I'm sure she can do it.

Why is it that it seems like the humans we love and admire the most are the ones who always hurt us?

I understand as a husband how you would want to say or do something to this guy but what would that accomplish? Kill him with kindness. I know it is easy for me to say since it wasn't my wife.

Pat S.

Mike said...

Vote this way and I'll be you friend? No thanks.

It seems like things are really getting tense these last few days. I think I'll just stay in the house until Wednesday except for one outing on Tuesday.

The Magic Utopian said...

I liked reading about curmudgeonly old man at your church who questioned your Christianity. It’s a shame that things like that get between people with other common interests. I think this is why the Founders were so insistent on a separation of the church’s influence in governmental affairs. Imagine if people behaved that way in government.

Rich said...

After the great "HairyKronk Debacle of 2008," I'm personally REALLY hesitant to put too much of what I'm thinking on a public blog for anyone and everyone to see. Having said that, I want you to know that reading this saddens me. I'll be praying for Chris' emotional wounds from what was said...

Blue Eyed Buddhist said...


Wow, great post. I'm sorry to hear of the attitude of the fellow at your church. For what it's worth, the situation you describe is certainly not limited by faith!

I know at least one woman in my Buddhist group that picks her "friends" by what would strike most as extremely shallow criteria- how much money they make, car they drive, clubs they hang out in (it's a younger group), people they know, fame, etc... and she's a youth leader in the group to boot.

This type of action goes against the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, but that doesn't slow her down much. And heaven knows, nearly every faith community struggles with exactly these types of issues, all the time. (It kind of goes along with being human!)

Your post really calls up questions of "Who do we pick as friends, and why?"

On the one hand, it's natural to choose people that we share common interests with, who we share a basic level of understanding and common frame of reference when it comes to things in life.

For example, I have a group of friends that I share baseball tickets with. While we're not super-tight as friends, we have that in common- we all celebrate and/or suffer with the Seattle Mariners. (We're suffering a lot the past few years.)

So I suppose, based on this, that it's entirely natural to find ourselves more drawn to be friendly with folks who share our political motivations- whatever those might be!

The question that then comes up is how should we look at and interact with someone we do NOT share stuff with, that we do NOT feel we have anything in common with.

I think that your post really strikes home- what bothered Chris wasn't that he challenged her faith, but that she felt he had "lost all respect for her".

It seems to me that this is one of the great questions of life, that nearly all religions take a whack at answering one way or the other. I might be a Buddhist but I'd like to think I recognize great wisdom and teachings when I hear/see them, and this is a question that Jesus did really well with.

With the "Golden Rule", Jesus tells us that the way we should treat others is simple- treat 'em like we'd prefer to be treated.

The phrase "do to others what you would have them do to you" is a tough one, actually, because it asks us to not worry about what the OTHER guy is thinking or doing. Yet it's human nature to want to have someone's respect- so much so that if we don't feel we have it, and we can't earn it, some of us will try and command it be given anyway.

(Exhibit A: Today's FAA leadership! Respect earned: Zero. Respect ordered: Infinity. Respect they actually have of their workforce: Nil.)

So about the only thing I'd say to suggest some solace for you guys is hang in there and keep trying to treat people the way you want them to treat you- and know that you're trying to do the right thing.

Does this mean that you can expect to be best buddies with this fellow again? Naw, probably not. But what's important to recognize is that what you (and Chris!) are able to control is not him, or his thoughts, or his actions or words.

What you CAN control is your own thoughts, words, actions. Make them the best you can, and even if he never comes around you will have done everything you can do- so long as those thoughts, words, and actions are the way you wish to be treated.

The other thing I think we all need to do- no matter what our faith- is to not only resist our own impulses to use our God to justify or endorse our particular political persuasion, but we must actively try and stop our friends and pastors and fellow followers from doing the same.

I find it both sad and ironic today, when much of the trouble in the world comes from fanatics who are using their faith to justify inhuman behavior, we have people on "our" side who fall into the same trap.

Just because "they" are doing it doesn't make it right for us to do it- and in fact, they serve as a demonstration to us of why we shouldn't fall prey to that temptation.

I will chant that your fellow churchgoer opens up Matthew and reads Chapter 7. :)

Jean-Luc Picard said...

How ridiculous of him. He should not mix politics and religion like that. We follow what we choose in both fields.

mrzman said...

We are of the Party of the Cross of Christ!! Stay strong and love them!

Claudia said...

God bless you and Chris, and welcome to my world. I've been told things like this since 1994. It has taken until this election for people to realize how harsh many who call themselves Christian really are. Again, God bless you and Chris. None of us deserve to be hurt like this, but Jesus told us we had to pick up His cross, and we must be brave!

Dale Campbell said...

I feel ya bro. Good post!


Sicilian said...

John. . . . I was your wife. . . . it hurts, but you blow it off. . . it appears that we call ourselves Christians, but our actions show otherwise.
It just makes you a little more careful with who you share your thoughts.