Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Difference

Happy Mother's Day, y'all.

I wasn't planning to do a blog entry today, and then I ran across this post. I think it encapsulates the essential difference between fundamentalists (not all of whom are religious) and everybody else:

"After Glenn Beck said “social justice is a perversion of the gospel” and a “code” for Marxism, communism, and Nazism, I invited him to a public dialogue to discuss the true meaning of social justice, which I said was at the heart of the gospel and integral to biblical faith.

In response, Beck promised on his radio show that “the hammer” would be coming down on me and my organization, and that he would devote a week of his television show to bringing me down. I took that as a “no” to dialogue.

But I would still like to have this discussion with Beck..."

Jim Wallis is willing to debate; Glenn Beck is not.

To me, it matters a lot less whether you are "right" or "wrong" on a given issue, than whether you are willing to have a conversation about it. None of us has a lock on absolute truth or righteousness, but we all have a choice in whether to respect and engage with other points of view. Some people might see this as weakness. I see it as an opportunity to learn.

2 comments:

B.Watts said...

I label myself a "social justice conservative", and I absolutely believe that social justice is inseparable from Christ. I actually believe that a lot of conservative Christians get mislabeled as being "against" social justice simply because of the way the debate takes place. Noted, some of it is brought on by some conservatives who take the "personal responsibility" idea too far, labeling those who need help as simply undeserving.

The problem I encounter when discussing social justice in this country, is that many can't seem to separate it from the government being involved in every aspect of it...that's certainly not an excuse for Glenn Beck. This mindset is a huge problem for those of us who believe the government needs to take a few large steps back and makes the debate very hard to step into. When I propose that government run health care isn't the best way to take care of my neighbor across the street, I'm instantly labeled as someone that doesn't care, whether I present my idea of what an acceptable solution is or not. Even worse, when I suggest that my church is a great way of taking care of the local community (one only need to spend time around NoDa to see it), those on the other side of the debate often shut down completely. Far too much "with us or against us" rhetoric on both sides of the aisle that makes debate and discussion nearly impossible.

After being labeled (or even called to my face) as hateful, uncaring, and a racist for simply believing that the federal government is not to be trusted with something as important as social justice, I often shy away from the debate.

Tess said...

Great comment... thanks for posting.

I tend to distrust large institutions of any sort, be they governmental, corporate, or religious. Yet we need these structures to get certain things done -- in general, the more local and accountable they are, the better they seem to function.

A lot of secular progressives have a deep phobia of any type of religious discussion in the public square -- which tends to silence moderate believers and polarize debate. Meanwhile, many religious conservatives who oppose government intervention on issues like health care or environmental regulation are very much in favor of government intrusion into the lives of citizens on issues such as abortion or school prayer.

I agree that debate and discussion are difficult and risky. You get attacked and labeled from all sides. For me, the goal is not so much to win hearts and minds as to build a relationship based on respect and trust. If your church can find practical, pragmatic ways to build relationships and work for justice within your community -- well, I would say that's worth about a billion sound bites.