Whatever is True, Whatever is Noble, Whatever is Right

So, I’ve been trying to get back to writing and posting regularly —kind of an unofficial New Year’s resolution. When my family headed back home, I started to reorganize the house as well as my approach to writing.  It was right then that January 6th happened.  All these months, while I’ve been home, I tried to stay out of politics, but I’ve become one of those folks on social media. You know, the one who tries to knock some sense into perfect strangers who are happy living in their irrational state of mind.  It’s hard to ignore the rhetoric when you care about our country and have seen social injustice grow stronger and unchecked in the last 4 years. I try to keep it down, to limit my posts and tweets, but quite frankly, that doesn’t work very well for me.

I thought about starting a second blog dedicated to the events of our time but decided there are already many others doing a fantastic job with that topic. My blog would probably be little more than a rant. I don’t mind putting my thoughts about politics out there, but I don’t want to get caught up in that madness. I have many friends and extended family with very conservative views, and I find that I am always careful about what I write. Being cautious though, has no substantial value because it takes away the freedom to say what is honestly on my mind.  Even with a self-censor, I’ve had to take social media vacations from some people that can not accept that I will never be a fan of DJT. The break usually starts with me saying, “Let’s shake on it, and peace be with you.” In my mind I add, “hopefully, we can regroup after the election.”

However, after President Biden and Vice President Harris’s Inauguration, I’ve decided to write at least one blog post in response to all the gloom and doom that I found on social media the day after. Just for the record, I thought the Inauguration was impressive considering all the limits well-defined by recent events. I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of music, which highlighted the message of unity, diversity, and of course, the tradition of peaceful transition of power.  I felt President Biden’s address to the nation was heartfelt and sincere. 

Many other Americans, though, were devastated. I saw posts of people grieving, afraid of the unknown, questioning their faith, questioning our democracy. The broadcast of this time-honored tradition was put out there for the world to see. It was as if watching it was anathema; many could or would not hear the message of hope and healing transmitted for hours across the networks.  

Sadly, the narrative playing in their heads was that DJT was pushed out of the White House by socialists and communists. They “stole the election.” What happened to the promises, the prophecies? In the other world of DJT, I read that the “Proud Boys” were mad because he gave up too soon. Reports are that they call him “weak,” “a total failure.” The truth is that after the call to arms, the threats, and violence, DJT rode off into the sunset apparently without looking back. He provoked their toxic patriotism, then just walked away, and left them holding the bag. He went back to his 128-room mansion, back to his golf course, back to his exclusive club where these “patriots” are not welcomed.  He never conceded, never told his supporters that the lies about election fraud had been another of his smoke and mirror stunts to confuse his followers and stay in power. I read that instead, he appeased them by declaring that he would be back with a new party – The Patriot Party.  In doing so, he sent a veiled threat to the GOP for not supporting his “Stop the Steal” agenda and confirmed to his followers that he was not done.  As of today, it seems to have worked. 

But really, before I get carried away, this post is not about DJT. Neither is it about the extreme radical conservative, white supremacist movement, for which he proudly takes full credit. Far be it for me to tell him that he is just a symptom of this movement, like a cold sore or herpes. This post is for people who may have gotten caught in the crossfire, if you will. 

It’s for the people I grew up with, people who stood by my side after my kids’ dad died. It’s for people in my family who continue to carry the conservative, fundamentalist values that our parents taught us. It’s for those, like the widow at the Temple, who give generous offerings of what little they have because they believe. It’s for those people who have genuine and pure faith in the God of the Bible but are so confused by what they hear, which is often in contrast with what they see.  

I am reminded of many Bible passages where Jesus is recorded to have given warnings to those who would lead his followers astray.

Mathew 7:15-20

 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire… Therefore, by their fruits, you will know them.

Last Thursday, I started to see negative posts and comments on social media in response to my optimistic expressions about the inaugural activities. I don’t fool myself to think that we are creating heaven on earth or a eutopia. I didn’t expect everything was going to be Peachy Keene on the morning after. Nor did I imagine I would sing Kumbaya with my gun-toting, confederate flag bearing neighbors. However, I didn’t expect the genuine level of sorrow and despondency from some of my Christian contacts.

This is not Nirvana, but I am confident that it is an opportunity to continue working on the principles and the ideals that I believe were intended by the founders of this great nation. I consider that in the last four years, the country strayed from the fundamental principles of “we the people,” not to mention any semblance of honesty and decency.

I was not bothered by the social media responses but rather sad that people were so blindly disheartened by the election outcome. It seems unfortunate to me that honest, decent, hardworking people would be swept up in this “movement” of hate and destruction.  I keep thinking of a passage in the Bible where Jesus calls out the religious leaders.

Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but, on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

This uprising in the name of God and traditional values not come as a surprise to us who were paying attention. We have seen such history repeat itself for generations. After all, wasn’t it Caiaphas, the high priest in Jerusalem, that organized the plot to kill Jesus? Wasn’t it the council of the Sanhedrin that turned Jesus over to the Roman courts? Tradition gave these high priests lots of power and prosperity. They were charged with interpreting the ancient scriptures and keeping the law as they had done for centuries.

When they saw that Jesus had quite a following, outside of the Temple, they accused him of blasphemy because he taught the community that He came to fulfill the laws and the prophecies. He said, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are My disciples if you love one another” [Gospel of John 13: 34,35].

Crowds followed Jesus for three years. The people received spiritual and physical healing. Yet, when Pontius Pilate offered to spare Jesus from death, the high priests incited the crowd to demand crucifixion for Jesus. Likewise, they called out instead for the release of Barabbas, an insurrectionist imprisoned by the Romans for his revolutionary activities.  And so, it was, that despite everything that the people had heard and witnessed with their own eyes, in that moment of pandemonium, that multitude in Jerusalem turned against Jesus and His teachings.  They forgot about the promises, about Jesus’ message of a loving God, and the beauty of the Spirit.

Let me pause a minute to review. “Picture it:” Jerusalem, AD 50-85, a group of powerful men in robes, afraid to lose their high paying jobs with benefits, plotted to kill a young Rabbi who was teaching the Children of Israel about God and the scriptures.  According to the law, the Jews had to come to the High Priest to reach God.  

Some of the charges as I understand them were:

  • He told a young man faithfully following The Commandments, that to inherit eternal life, he had to give ALL his money to the poor and follow Him. Not to the Temple or the High Priests, but to the poor.  
  • A couple of times, the High Priests caught Jesus healing the sick on the Sabbath!  One of those times, Jesus healed a lame man and told him to pick up his bed and go on his way, he was healed. Imagine, he told the man to pick up his bed – on the Sabbath! It didn’t matter that the man had been afflicted for 38 years, and on this day, Jesus came to him with compassion.  The Priests were the keepers of the Law.
  • Jesus stopped a legal stoning of a woman prosecuted for adultery. Then he dared to turn to her accusers and tell them “Let the one without sin throw the first stone!” One by one they left.
  • Jesus used a Samaritan as an example to teach them that our neighbor is anyone in need to whom we show love and kindness.  He encouraged his followers to visit the sick, those in prison, and to care for the widows.

There are many more examples like this, but these are enough for now.  You can always read more about this on your own.

 In the centuries that followed The Crucifixion, wars raged to secure the places sacred to Christian values and traditions. Since then, Christians brought with them the mantra of the “love the sinner, hate the sin” as they forced Muslims and Jews to accept Christ as Savior or else. These nonbelievers lost their lands, material wealth, and sometimes their lives.

When we remember Jesus’ words to Pilate, that if his kingdom had been of this world, his followers would have already physically saved him from this fate.  These wars and abuse were not in His plans. As a matter of fact, when Jesus was arrested, the story was that the Apostle Peter took up his sword and chopped off the ear of one of the guards. Jesus told Peter to put away his sword, he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. Jesus had to complete his mission.

In the Sixties, we sang a folk song that said, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, by our love” – not by our sword – by our love.   We also sang, “Not by might and not by power, but by my spirit…” I still find comfort in these melodies that continue to lift my spirit.

How simple it is to believe that all good comes from God or the Spirit of a Higher Power.  And yet, in witnessing the past four years, it baffles me how people -Christians especially, can compare the 45th Administration to all that is good? Anything that appeared to be “good” quickly vanished in the light of the truth.

Examples that “came to light” just over the last week were:

  1. Although DJT had used Warp-Speed to get vaccines out. The Administration misrepresented how much was actually in stock and how effectively the plan was rolled out.
  2. No matter how many court cases were brought to overturn the election, NOTHING in the reports reached a level of credibility.  Not even judges appointed by DJT for this very reason, were able to confirm widespread election fraud.
  3. These last two examples shed light on DJT’s character and his narcissistic patterns of behavior. Let me start by clarifying that I am not a fan of Mike Pence, but if anything, he has been loyal to DJT.  If Pence is the kind of Christian he has led us to believe he is, standing by DJT must have been quite a challenge. It almost reminds me of the Biblical account of King Saul and David. David, according to the story, knew he was to be king after Saul, but given the opportunity, he refused to take the life of God’s anointed.  In contrast, however, the moment Pence publicly disagreed with DJT about certifying the election, he sent his goons after him at the Capitol where Pence was doing his job. DJT’s people chanted in the streets and up the steps of the Capitol about death to Pence and even put-up gallows with a noose. All because DJT put his loyalty in doubt before this crowd of radicalized militant extremists.
  4. NOT ONCE DID TRUMP DISANNOUNCE THESE ACTIONS AGAINST HIS FAITHFUL VICE PRESIDENT.  WHEN HE SAW WHAT WAS HAPPENING, NOT ONCE DID HE CALL TO STOP WHAT HE HAD UNLEASHED ON THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Instead, watch it unfold on TV and dawdled, hemmed, and hawed in deciding if he should approve the National Guard deployment to the Capitol.  

 As I am writing, I can almost hear – “but this, but that.” I know I am only touching the surface with these observations.  Maybe in the days to come, I’ll continue with more in-depth commentary of how I see things in the light of “non-fundamentalism.”

I’ll just leave you with one last verse for your consideration. Perhaps it will help someone measure by faith what they are witnessing with their eyes. It is a verse from a letter credited to Paul and Timothy to the congregation at Philippi.

Philippians 4:8-9

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

(Photo from pixabay)

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