This is the second part of my response to a fictional letter recently posted online which outlined a vision of the America well on its way to ruin just four years into Obama’s presidency. I felt somewhat compelled to respond to the letter’s sense of hopeless and to the quiet idea that if we don’t have “our guy” in the White House, we have lost something of our cause.
So, just as was the case with the last installment, I am writing a fictional letter of my own; also from the future (2011). My piece is not a defense of Obama so much as it is a call to a more Christian handling of politics and history… one rooted in hope rather than fear.
Because of the length of the total piece, It will be broken it up into a three parts. Here is the promised continuation (part 2) of the “Letter From 2011″…you can find the other installments under listed under “Letter from 2011.”
Religious Speech in the Public Square
“Earning the right to be heard” has become a mantra of sorts among mainstream christian communities. With the slow passing of the voices who had previously represented christendom on the public stage, the Church’s marginalization has been read quite differently. Gabe Lyons’s followup to “Un-Christian,” a book he wisely titled “They’re Not Listening,” helped frame a more complex and still more complete picture of dialogue between the religious and non-religious. “One can only instruct and lead a person so far as that person knows he is loved,” Lyons writes “That same principle is true of our culture and our world.” As uncomfortable as the notion has been, we’re learning that we are marginalized because we have not loved well. As Lyons writes it, “Our case is no less urgent, the Truth no less compelling… but we must attend to our posture, our position and our authority, which we do not have by rights… we must earn it.”
Many campus ministry organizations on college and high school campuses have become centers for transformational social action. This shift away from prosthelization has left many hard-line evangelicals worried, particularly those who have held to the compartmentalization of religious practice; those among us who have yet to see the deep ties between evangelism and social justice or social activity and personal worship for that matter. In an unfortunate example of this misunderstanding, my eldest son was recently met with some hostility at his youth group stemming from an event his Social Justice chapter put together in conjunction with the Muslim Students Union. The groups teamed up on a Saturday morning for what they called a “Beautiful Day” project. They had compiled a list of simple maintenance projects they could do at their campus (painting, planting, trash-pick-up, etc… ) and about 40 of them worked an afternoon at the campus. One of the other parents pulled him aside after he talked about the event at youth group and reprimanded him for his “partnership with Muslims”; telling him that he had “compromised the Gospel” or something along those lines. J____’s answer was perfect: “If you knew any Muslims yourself, or had ever picked up a piece of trash from my school’s campus, I might be more interested in your opinion.”
In the area of abortion, it seems that we continue to take a step forward and another one back; much as it has been for decades now. Optimistically, there has been a movement to meet in areas where we see eye to eye and can work together and while there is still a goodly sized faction on either side who are still more interested in locking horns with each-other than accomplishing anything, I’ve been personally inspired by the way leadership and the christian community has helped to build bridges for people to cross. We’ve seen a slight decline in the number of abortions nationally and a greater decline globally as conditions of extreme poverty have been greatly improved, most dramatically in nations such as Brazil, Russia, China and India.
It is from this link between global poverty and abortion is where I’ve seen the most powerful activity in christian leadership. As the younger populace has been mobilized to give themselves to the cause of Justice and Compassion, something has shifted in their hearts in the area of abortion. Case in point: recently, a popular young blogger calling himself “Icarus” posted a piece entitled “A Consistent Ethic Of Life.” He points back to a lot of Pope John Paul II’s writing around Catholic Social Teaching but ultimately tells his own story about his desire to defend the rights of poor and oppressed children leading him to make a case for the unborn as well. It’s a story shared by a much larger populace than you might imagine. The commitment to the preservation and defense of life, beginning for many with social justice, has extended to the unborn. This larger sense of the sanctity of life has birthed a cohesive story among our young, prophetic brethren. It is a story the culture at large has been intrigued by; as they are less putt off by the old hypocrisy of a Pro-Life platform that had consistently included a support of a nearly blind system of capital punishment and a general lack of sensitivity to war.
Hulu and other media services have forever altered the way we watch television. Not to mention entertainment software like Boxee. I know very few people who haven’t made the switch to one or another of the new generation media. YouTube’s launch of their own television service has been met with a flood of users as well as advertisers which has opened the door for creative new programming models. Not only has the shift meant a greater consumer control in general, it has also meant a greater content control for parents. Even ad spots between segments are cleaner and more appropriate to the demographic of each user and in some cases is decided by the user’s preferences upon registration.
Speaking of television, you’d be interested to know that season 10 of “24” got really weird again. Jack was once again exiled for punching the president in the nose but ended up in Belgium this time, where he found himself wrapped up in some kind of waffle-smuggling thing… Last night, he actually shot a waffle in the leg… it had no information.
Another interesting note on entertainment: The porn industry has been rocked by what is being called the “New Feminism.” Women in droves have turned out to rail against the exploitation of their gender. Internet campaigns, conferences and rallies have served to make theme “Take Back Beauty” one of the more visible and recognizable slogans in pop culture. Some very unlikely hollywood personalities, women and men, have become the campaign’s face. It seems to be taking some effect, as well. Ad agencies have shown clear trends of moving away from the use of big-breasted women to sell products; bending to the pressure applied by masses upon masses of these angered and enlightened women. The sexual “expression” that was at one point seen as feminine empowerment has been turned inside out. It’s been quite a sight.”