Each month I write a article for my parish's newsletter and, beginning with this post, I will publish those articles here.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
As I think back over the last couple of weeks I am struck by the blessings and curses of 21st Century technology. For example, think back to that terrible tragedy of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Yes, news organizations rushed to get the news out and, if you are a certain age, we fondly remember the words and emotions of broadcaster Walter Cronkite. Many Americans got the chance to see the memorial train that took his body to Washington DC and everyone has probably seen the wonderful and moving picture of John Jr. as he saluted his father at the funeral service. While all the news organizations worked hard to bring the nation the stories, we weren’t inundated constantly with it. And anyone who had an opinion about the President’s death could only voice it with family and friends, at the water-cooler, or with a letter to the editor (which may or may not get published).
Now flash forward to this morning’s news that his brother, Senator Edward Kennedy, died overnight as a result of his brain cancer. While it is not the only news on TV, Radio, and the internet, there does seem to be too much of it. Every “talking head” has to spout their opinion on Sen. Kennedy’s influence on the Senate and the nation and what may happen now that he is dead. Conservatives, while not exactly gloating, are looking forward to the next several months because the Democrats will only have 59 votes in the Senate and not the filibuster-proof 60. And, while I haven’t listened to any, I’d be willing to bet that the conservative radio talk shows (think Rush L.) are just brimming with callers rejoicing at his death. The same is probably happening at conservative blogs (blogs = web logs or diaries that anyone can read and reply to). Modern technology in communication has given us an explosion in ways in which all people can voice their opinions and opposition, and many of them do.
That brings me to last week’s vote by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to allow church to call as their pastor a gay or lesbian clergy who is in a “life-long, committed, same-sex” relationship. This article is not about whether I support or reject the decision made. What upsets me the most is the ugliness of the arguments on both sides. Do an internet search on “gay clergy ELCA” or any similar phrase. Go to the articles that the search found and read them. More importantly, read the comments below the articles. It is saddening to think that people are writing some of these things. Some of it is hateful. Much of it is disrespectful. Everyone quotes the Bible. And no one tries to have a minimal understanding of the other side.
In James 1:19-20, the writer says, “You must understand this: . . . let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” In verse 26 the writer says, “If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.” Our quickness, as a society, community, or church, to go to the extremes in voicing and defending our views ultimately will be our downfall. Jesus, who stands in the middle and opens his Table to all, calls to all to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strengths and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (or as God has loved us).
Peace in Christ