Monday, November 5, 2012

Christian to Christian: Mr. Ryan, We Have a Problem

In a teleconference last night, Paul Ryan, Republican candidate for Vice-President, said, “the path the president has put us on . . . [is] a dangerous path, it's a path that . . . compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, western-civilization values that made us such a great and exceptional nation in the first place."

I have a problem, Congressman Ryan, with your characterization of President Obama as a destroyer of “Judeo-Christian western civilization values”.  And it’s not a political problem.  It’s a religious one.  You and I are family – brother and sister, to be precise.  So are you and President Obama.  Why?  Because we’re all Christians.

And here’s the thing:

1. Disagreeing with you does not make one a non-Judeo-Christian - shoot, the Nuns on the Bus (professional Christians, you might say), disagree with you on economic policies.  And they disagree out of their faith, not in spite of it.

2. Destroyer of Judeo-Christian values, in the context of the long-standing vitriol, is either (a) most unfortunate or (b) intentional pandering to incipient racism played out in the form of  'he's not [really] a Christian' (translate, he's not 'one of us' - he's a 'Muslim' - which in the US, just as often means 'he has brown skin' as it does anything about one's religious persuasion - and that, not as a compliment.  I would almost prefer to believe it was intentional on your part:  at least then I would know you understand what's at stake with this kind of exploitation of the language of hate, fear and division.  But giving you the benefit of the doubt, I choose to believe that the connection was not obvious to you and was thus unintentional.  One of the challenges of being a public speaker, however, is to try to hear our words as others hear them.

3. As another 'professional' Christian,  I have to say that you and I disagree on many things, particularly about economics and the role of government when it comes to the least fortunate among us.  I am a bit startled to hear you as a fellow Christian characterize my own view as destructive of the very faith I have dedicated my life to trying to follow.

4. Finally, there are MANY things about which I disagree with the President (and Gov. Romney, for that matter).  That disagreement does not make either of them bad men, morally flawed, dangerous, or bent on my personal destruction.  Whether they are any of those things or not is not for me to say.  And what we often forget when we demonize our enemies is the notion of reaping, perhaps best learned as a parent: whatever bad habits  we teach our children, they will use against us.  So too with public discourse: pandering or indifference in public discourse by the few lowers the bar for the many.  Thus unjustified or untrue attacks against you become justified because “well, he said worse”.

People of good faith of all and no political and religious stripes will go to the polls tomorrow.  All of us will, I hope, pray and trust, try to exercise our own best judgement in discharging our duty as citizens.

And next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, many of us will resume our places, side by side, in our respective places of worship, in common cause together to worship our God and take what we receive there out into the world.

I guess I'm just trying to remind you that there is no hierarchy among Christians - as St. Paul so eloquently pointed out, all fall [far] short of the glory of God.

To put it more bluntly and to borrow freely from a wise Baptist minister, responding to a man I once knew who was thinking of leaving that particular congregation because he was unhappy with some things, "Well, Bob, whenever you find that perfect church, do me a favor:  don't join and spoil it for everybody else."

A little humor and a little humility when making truth claims on behalf of God isn't a bad thing, my brother.


  1. It's clear the writer has put her political views ahead of the Bible. My Pastor said that his vote is for God and the candidate that best represents God's word. Which candidate is pro-life? Which candidate advocates marriage as sacred between a man and a woman? Which candidate is an outspoken friend of Israel and which one has rebuffed her time and again? Just because a person is a minister doesn't mean they are morally superior, i.e., Rev Jerimiah Wright. There are many that claim to be Christians and use that as a means to pander to a certain population, to be more acceptable. It doesn't matter in the end who you or I vote for because God is in control and God will put in office whom he wills to be there. We are not to understand his reasons why, we are merely here to worship him and fight his battles here on Earth. Christians are the most fierce warriors when challenged in word or deed if called upon by God to protect his people. We are in a spiritual war and in the end-times. The good news is that those who have accepted Jesus Christ into their heart will be taken up in the Rapture and those left behind will have a second chance because God love them. In the end, when it's all said and done, God triumphs - that's really all that matters in the end.

    1. Dear Basenjimomma, Thank you because I learned today what a Basenji is - beautiful dogs. But in reply to your comment,You may be right. Maybe I am putting my political views ahead of the Bible. But the real question is whether I am putting my political views ahead of God. Maybe I am doing that as well. I certainly hope not. But I believe it is very important to try to see ourselves as others see us, and that's clearly how you're seeing me, which means, at the very least, I have failed in getting across what I was trying to say. I regret that. And you and I wholeheartedly agree that being a minister does not make one more godly. I include myself in that judgment. I'm just another saint who knows she's a sinner, no more and no less. I agree that God triumphs - always - not just in the end, whatever 'the end' may be. God in the person of Jesus triumphed from the cross. God the creator triumphed from before the very beginning of things as we know them. God is God. Nothing and no one can encroach on that. You see, you and I agree. Life is sacred. I'm just not sure it's possible to be President and hold to that. No President has an abortion, at least so far, since they've all been men. But all Presidents, and I do mean all, kill other people by directing our military into mortal combat. Those people matter too. And just because they are our 'enemies' does not mean that they are God's enemies. But back to what I originally wrote about, which had nothing to do with any of this. What I was trying to say was simply this: our words matter. We Christians follow a man who has for one of his names The Word. Words matter. So even if Mr. Ryan and Mr. Obama are enemies, it is not, as a Christian, ok to call names. I know political speech gets heated on all sides. And while I don't like it, I accept that it is so. But when one candidate attacks the very faith of another that they both share, trying to make his opponent out to be Satan, that is NOT OKAY. NOBODY GETS TO DO THAT EXCEPT GOD. NOBODY. NOT YOU. NOT ME. NOT PAUL RYAN. NOBODY. That is what I was trying to say. And it does not matter one little bit whether I agree or disagree with Mr. Ryan's politics. It's not his politics I have a problem with in this. It's his actions as a Christian. But like I said at the beginning. You could be right. And I could be wrong. And I am grateful for your response. You have made me think. You have made me stop and take pause and pray, asking God to reveal my own heart to me. And that matters very much. So thank you and blessings with your Bassenji. In God's own peace, Beth