Sunday, September 23, 2012

Come Let Us Reason Together

Although I use this blog primarily to post some of my public writing and speaking, I do occasionally do some "blogging" in the more customary sense of the term.   This is one such reflection--and I remind the gentle reader of my standard disclaimer:  these are my thoughts, not the official position of the NW MN Synod ELCA:
I’ve been reflecting these days on the astonishing comment by Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) who was caught musing aloud about how the fortunes of the Republican Party appear bleak:  We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

So this morning, while enjoying the “free” breakfast in my motel, I slowly realized that two fellows at the next table are among Sen. Graham’s much-desired army of “angry white guys.”

Of course they were watching Fox News on the TV in the little breakfast nook.  And they were offering rather loud and public commentary on every item that popped up on the screen (there were just three of us in the breakfast area at the time). 

I can deal with that.  It’s a free country, and it takes all kinds of folks to make up the crazy-quilt we call America.  We operate on the basis of a two-party political system.  Vigorous, thoughtful, well-reasoned debate is crucial to the American experiment.

But I listened in vain for even a HINT of that in what my table-neighbors were discussing.   And I can deal with that, too.

But the longer I listened, the harder it was to stay there (I carefully shielded my iPad so the guys couldn’t see that I was reading the Sunday Review section of the NY Times).

They freely expressed personal disdain for, not just honest disagreement with, our President….and his wife!

They lamented the decision by one of their older parents who “still votes Democratic”—frustrated that the senior adult mom, “just doesn’t take time to get informed” (presumably by the fair-and-balanced commentary always featured on Fox News).

And when they started speculating on the “coming civil war between the haves and have-nots in America,” I decided it was time for some fresh air and a walk.

Now, I suppose I just happened to be sitting in the wrong place at the wrong (or right?) time.  

Or was I treated to an up-close overhearing of a slice of conversation that is replicated thousands of times in thousands of places, not just across northwestern Minnesota, but across our whole country?

I am cautious about using the word “fear,” but I left this scene feeling fearful about the state of political discourse in our country in this autumn of 2012.

And I couldn’t help but to recall the ancient wisdom of Isaiah:  “Come, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18).    Can we still do that as citizens (not just taxpayers or “consumers of governmental services”) of the United States?   Where is it happening well?   Where does it need to happen more?   In our churches?

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