Oct 27, 2006

fiery opinions

November is coming, which means that right about now every candidate with a few bucks behind him or her has started throwing the mud that we expect during the political season. You know how these commercials go, right?

COMMERCIAL 1: (deep throaty voiceover guy): "Debbie Stabenow says she supports the union workers. Then why does she use them for speed bumps in her driveway?"

COMMERCIAL 2: (two old guys playing checkers)

Old Guy #1: Say there, Barty... did you hear the latest hub-bub from our governor about how she hopes to give our state more jobs?

Old Guy #2: Can't say I did, Marty.

Old Guy #1: (stands up and shakes his fist at the sky) It's nothing but a bunch of LIES!

Old Guy #2: Kind of makes me happy my hearing aid has an off button. Your move, old chum.

Old Guy #2: (looks at camera with one eye sort of jetting off to the right on its own) I move that we downsize her job. On election day, you can, too.

Through the magic of spooky music and grainy pictures (that often show the opponent in his/her worst pose while wearing a speedo or eating a messy burrito), we are treated to complex issues being reduced to the level of a schoolyard taunt. If the guy ever bought a bottle of Pepsi outside of his state he's labeled a bad guy for "stealing jobs away from the state." If the gal ever bought a gallon of gas for her car one day and then had the price go lower the next day, she's labeled a "poor business woman" because of her impulsive decisions.

It's all about spin doctoring things down to scary sentences in most cases. Buying your prescription drugs at Walgreens is spun out, "My opponent wants drugs on the streets!" Eating steak at Outback Steakhouse becomes, "My opponent doesn't support vegetable farmers!"

Okay - perhaps I'm exagerating.

And yet... doesn't it seem like the only response we hear to such truly childlike arguments is "I know you are, but what am I?"

Most of the time it's just not worth it to listen... and so I don't. You should try it sometime - turn the volume off every time an ad pops up and enjoy some fun entertainment in its own right. Have fun putting your own words in and then decide who you want to vote for based on who gives you the best material to work with. Speaking of which, have you seen this one (produced by Airplane! and creator David Zucker)?

I can't stand these ads. If you want to know whether your candidate is telling fibs or telling the truth about his or her opponent, visit this site. Otherwise, don't give the commercials too much weight.

Yet here's the irony - how often do we do this with Christianity? We can make any political issue about Jesus... or against him, for that matter. It's all in how we view it, right?

Isn't it funny how we make our views feel better by putting others views down... including our spiritual views?

Um... guilty.

I wonder how many elections I'll have to endure before Jesus comes back. Perhaps that's why I am intrigued by Elijah's approach. When some of the prophets of a false god (which is ironic in itself) started talking smack about his God he essentially said, "No sweat... let's put it to the test."

Then Elijah said to them, "I am the only one of the LORD's prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God." Then all the people said, "What you say is good." (1 Kings 18:22-24)

Having put out the smackdown, Elijah let the prophets of Baal go first. They prayed, danced, and shouted. Interestingly, nothing happened. So Elijah got a little sassy.

At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened." So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. (1 Kings 18:27-29)

So Elijah built an altar of his own...

He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, "Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood."

"Do it again," he said, and they did it again.

"Do it a third time," he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. (1 Kings 18:33-35)

Still sassy.

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again."

Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!" (1 Kings 18:36-39)

This is all pretty cool and makes for a nice Sunday School story on felt board. That is, until shortly after all of this Elijah orders that every one of the false prophets be slaughtered. Hmm... I don't know how that plays out well using slices of fabric.

All of this to say that apparently believing strongly in something isn't enough to make it true. Believe me - I've tried to fly many times to no avail. Whether it's political, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual, we just might be missing the boat. Fiery opinions are all about your grip on life; Christ-breathed grace is all about God’s grip on you.

We don't really like it when our beliefs are tested under fire, especially when it comes to anything we've "concluded" about God. The man-made, plastic version of "jesus" needs to be crucified so that the real Jesus can take his proper place. Unfortunately, even Christians need to test their faith to be sure their version of Christ is authentic.

Including me.

Commercial 3: (cue voice over guy)

"Tony Myles says he follows Jesus Christ. If that's true, then why does he live with such a sense of self-entitlement? Why does he seem to doubt the veracity of his faith? And why does he watch Smallville with more attention than he gives the Scriptures? Vote Green Party."


Jessica said...

Wow, ouch and amen all in one.

Michael said...

Do you think Jesus would have voted if he lived today and was a registared voter?

I know this is missing the point of your blog but I think its worth asking

Tony Myles said...

Good question... I know that he chose to learn (John 15:15) instead of just invoke his Godhead rights which tells me that he participated in the institutions of his day. As per voting, I think Jesus would be less concerned about America as a kingdom and more concerned with the Father's. I don't see him as critiquing it or supporting it in as much as I see him taking a neutral stance on it.

I do know this, though... Jesus doesn't love Republicans, nor does he love Democrats... nor homosexuals... nor heterosexuals... nor Americans or non-Americans. Jesus loves people, and the titles we gives ourselves are just clothing on top of the transparent nakedness we were originally created to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, it was great! I have been struggling with all the ads on TV lately about the candidates. That last commerical really did it for me though.. wow

Katie said...

Tony, I want to take your last paragraph in the above comment and share it with everyone I know.

You voiced everything that my head has been thinking lately during the spin of election time (and I'm "into" politics). Thanks for making me think and more than that making me take a good hard look at myself.

Tony Myles said...