This is a long blog. It’s been on my mind awhile now, but until I passed the church sign on the backhill roads of Coalfields Appalachia, it hadn’t coalesced.
The sign said: Neither the elephant nor the donkey will save you. Look to the Lamb.
Not a suitable place to take a picture or I’d have gotten one, but the freight truck behind me was not inclined to wait, and since they have difficult jobs these days, I didn’t push the issue – or my brakes.
But I kinda teared up when I saw the sign, because it showed insight not easily captured in something smaller than even a Tweet. Tweets aren’t much associated with insight these days, anyway.
I’m a member of a group of old friends, all now pushing the grandparent years, who in our youth were part of Youth With a Mission. We all went to the School of Evangelism together, and if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about our unifying factors, can’t help you.
In the intervening years, some have changed their minds about Christianity, and some about elements of Christianity. What’s interesting is how little space there is in the group, how little grace or dignity, for those who believe in Jesus but not all of his messengers.
Several members of the group are fierce about Communism and its nebulous evil ghost twin Socialism. The global pandemic is a backdrop by which Satan will achieve his aim of bringing about a socialist government, and from there we go straight to Antichrist, do not pass go, do not collect $200 in prepaid medical care.
A smaller but completely overlapping subset believe that Democrats, when we die, get put in a laundry chute and sucked straight into Hell. Democrats can’t be Christians, or at least remain both for long. We get a month or so of grace after conversion and then if we haven’t figured it out, we’re living in deception. Every time one of my friends says “A lot of us are praying for you, Wendy,” I fight the urge to point out that it doesn’t sound like they’re praying for God’s guidance for me, it sounds like a need for affirmation: because I pray and because I think this, you must think this, too, or you are wrong, because I can’t be the one who is wrong. So I get extra God points for pointing out you are wrong.
When I was in high school, we had a few men who blatantly said at Bible study that, because they walked in the Light and prayed every day for God to guide their steps, they knew what they believed about politics, medicine, theology, and whether or not Christians could smoke and drink was correct. Therefore, those who didn’t believe like them were incorrect and needed to be prayed for. If they didn’t repent, they needed to be put out of the church fellowship.
I was not yet old enough to have a driver’s license at the time, but instinctively understood even then to stay away from these men and their sweet, silent, staring wives. I quit that Bible study, and kept a close eye on the difference between “Jesus said” and “this is what I decided Jesus meant” for the next 40 years or so.
And so the day came that I saw the church sign—elephant, donkey, lamb—and cried. Not because of the long-haul trucker riding my Prius’s intimidated little bumper, but because someone knew that truth lies not with either side, but in Jesus guiding us. The Bible is a good guide but it can be used in the same way as statistics: take away the context and wiggle things into a specific reference frame, and you can justify just about anything. My friend Friedgaard, a Bible-reading Hitler Youth, taught me that.
I don’t think Democrats have the lockdown on how God wants the world to run, believing we care more about the widows and orphans than those nasty self-enriching, duped Republicans. Evil is easily done by regulations that insist on safety nets for the poor and then push that funding into policy and regulation rather than provision; the rich can enrich themselves under the guise of social justice and it ain’t pretty. I fight it every day in my day job.
Republicans tend to center their moral superiority on a pro-life stance, but it manifests as pro-birth. Abortion is an easy issue for engendering blood-cleansing moral outrage; If you want to be pro-life, care about not spreading COVID-19 to elderly neighbors, and about small children separated from their parents because they tried to save them from drug cartel violence. Don’t huff about a baby you can’t even see yet, and judge the mama as “the very low” in life, and then vote to take away her ability to get free healthcare for gestational diabetes.
It also becomes easy to accuse those of us who no longer want to play the polarization-for-God-points game as following in the foot-in-mouth steps of President Trump when he famously said there were good people on both sides of a white supremacy rally. No, that’s not what we are talking about.
Neither party has a lock on how to live a Godly life. But in the dark times that are coming, I suspect each will continue trying to prove it does, without noticing that the very anger and violence generating such rejection and dehumanization of those who don’t think like us (who don’t BELIEVE THE TRUTH) is the antipathy of what God says to value. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Do to others as you want them to do to you.” “For God so loved the world…”
I’m not riding an elephant or a donkey; I am prayerfully and with careful steps trying to follow a Lamb. Perhaps to some very difficult places in the coming years, because this divide isn’t going away.
Wendy, I’m guessing it took quite a bit of courage to post this! I am in awe of that courage and am grateful that you wrote your honest-to/about-Godde feelings. In the climate these days of fear and distrust, it was comforting to read.
Wendy, it is heartbreaking the number of daily black eyes that are given to Christ by those who profess their love for him. Especially through ill treatment of their fellow man, and especially the defenseless unborn. Having said that, one point in particular I want to comment on is that PDJT NEVER said there were good people on both sides of a white supremacy rally. He was referring to good people on both sides of the issue as to statutes being taken down. This has been a lie spewed by the media to discredit him as they have spewed so many others. He does and says many things that I take exception with, but he deserves a defense when lied about. We all do.
Acts 4:20. Support Trump if you feel so led. I watched the coverage, live, and cannot support parsing narratives about men who shouted “Blood and Soil” as protecting statues. Too many split hairs have gone into this convenient lie about the media.
Also, love you, respect your intellect, don’t wanna fight. Shouts of “blood and soil” aren’t about protecting statues.
Now and then I read something that resonates so strongly with me that I wish I had written it. This post, Wendy, is one of those “somethings.” Thank you for your honesty, your courage and your spirit.
Thank you. Feel free to share if you want to.
Very thoughtful and heartfelt. I once tried to explain to someone railing against the faults of the other side that God doesn’t have a rubric for sin. All sin is the same in God’s eyes. He was flabbergasted.
Gradations of sin was a medieval idea, wasn’t it? Interesting….
Brava dear Wendy. As you know, I’m one of the YWAMers who no longer believes in Jesus as the savior of the world, and yet I’m taken by that readerboard too. What do we want for humanity? Thank you for your distinction between pro-birth and pro-life. I want pro-life. For brown people at the boarder, for prisoners who’ve effed up their lives worse than their mothers could have feared, for black people who have to look over their shoulders all day every day, for women who want their pussies respected. Thank you for articulating all of this. Glad we met in YWAM all those years ago. Love you.
Love you too. Let’s keep each other honest.
What a wonderful post Wendy! I agree with so much that you said although I wouldn’t be able to articulate it the way you did. I completely agree that too many who shout “pro life” are only “pro birth”, they want the child born but don’t want any part in caring for it or helping to provide for it afterwards. Heaven forbid we have sources available for those with too little, and the numbers of Americans who have too little is growing daily. I don’t believe God plays politics and for someone to say God sent this person or that person tosave the country really needs to read their Bible again.
Great blog, Wendy! It’s plain and simple to me that we are on this earth for the briefest of times during which we are charged with being good stewards. All living things are charged with good stewardship, but mankind is the only species that categorizes, judges and wrecks things in the names of money, power, religion and politics. It’s a conundrum how our lot has managed to survive as a species as long as we have. The Great Mother is going to shake us off Her back if we don’t straighten up, and soon.