😲 Clutching your pearls? Perfect!

What a week! Setting aside the tragic deaths, attacks and unfolding espionage investigation, this clip of Texas politician Beto O’Rourke made the rounds:

After posting it as an Instagram story (I know, gross, but sometimes you’ve got to slum it to reach certain people), I fairly quickly had an interesting DM conversation that echoed a few of the sentiments in this NPR piece that’s now making the rounds/getting rightfully dunked on.

Some specific points of overlap:

  • He did this in front of kids!
  • This type of shocking language distracted from the message he was trying to deliver.
  • Public officials should be held to a higher standard.

As the NPR article concludes: “It’s harmful to our politics because it becomes more difficult to conduct politics and find that middle ground on issues.”

So (cracks knuckles)…

Did he just get carried away in the moment? Totally possible.

Was dropping “motherfucker” a fully-calculated political move? Also quite possible.

Are we all talking about it? Absolutely.

Here’s the thing about his reaction: he’s either 1) honestly passionate enough about gun control that he he let his emotions take hold or 2) a savvy enough politician to know that a strategic “motherfucker” would bring social media eyeballs back to this issue (and of course his campaign).

In this year of our Algorithms that is 2022, I’m fully in support of either option. A person that’s generally composed and restrained, but once in a while shocks everyone with an unexpected burst of passion can be a powerful messenger, and help cut through a general sea of public cluelessness and/or apathy, especially around an issue where there should be no “middle ground” for any sane person.

After all, this approach worked pretty well for a generally chill guy when he saw what a bunch of moneylenders were up to in the temple.

And as I’ve said before, finger wagging over a “naughty” word while staying silent on (or worse, refusing to learn about or actively opposing) common sense gun control reforms is a real “why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” situation.

If you’re more worried about innocent little Destiny and Brayden hearing a bad word than about them getting brutally murdered in their own classrooms, you need to get your head examined. Profanity over insanity all day long. Spare me your impotent outrage, and (with love), kindly go fuck yourself.

Yes, And…

I recently came across this text meme making the rounds on IG stories:

As the world fights to figure everything out, I’ll be holding doors for strangers, letting people cut in front of me in traffic, saying good morning, keeping babies entertained in grocery lines, stopping to talk to someone who is lonely, tipping generously, waving at police, sharing food, giving children a thumbs-up, being patient with sales clerks, smiling at passersby, and buying a stranger a cup of coffee. WHY? Because I will not stand to live in a world where love is invisible. Join me in showing kindness, understanding, and judging less. Be kind to a stranger, give grace to friends who are having a bad day, be forgiving with yourself.

Cringe aside, these are all fine, kind things to do, though they absolutely ring a bit hollow when coming from a strong place of white suburban privilege (as was the case with my source).

What’s the main issue then? Well, it’s that in the year of our Lord 2022, proudly proclaiming that you’re performing a set of table stakes niceties while “the world fights to figure everything out” just doesn’t cut it as an acceptable course of action for a compassionate human being.

As the improv comedy community would say, “Yes, and…”

Of course you should be practicing acts of kindness, and be…

  • Paying attention to voices that are increasingly being silenced and marginalized, then doing your part to amplify them, consequences be damned.

  • Relentlessly calling out organizations that elevate legalism over love.

  • Coming to grips with the fact that the beloved past you long for with rose-colored glasses wasn’t all that great for so many others (or for the planet itself), and that it’s never, ever coming back.

In other words, things are real bad right now, there’s no sugarcoating it. Trust me though, you don’t want to live in a world where others “figure everything out” while you sit on the sidelines. Be loud. Be mad. Be informed. Be clear-eyed, but also be kind.

The Pit Gets Crowded

Last weekend my wife and I did a brief communion talk at our “new” (in COVID-adjusted terms) church, in which we touched on a few of the points I’d made in my Pit Stop post from a couple years back, surrounding this Bible passage:

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

– Matthew 12:9-11 (NIV)

In a nutshell, the post commented on how painful it was to watch much of white American evangelicalism’s Pharisee-like slow-motion reaction to the continued rise of online misinformation, Christian nationalism/law enforcement hagiography and the ongoing need to address systemic racism and start repenting at the institutional level.

While there’s still an incredibly long way to go, we’ve been fortunate enough to have found a group that’s at least continually taking steps in the right direction and forcing these hard conversations, which I truly appreciate.

All that being said, 2022 keeps on 2022-ing, and the pit is getting more and more crowded. Let’s peer in at two recent additions, shall we?

  1. Buoyed by the current Supreme Court, states are playing around with some fairly terrifying anti-abortion laws, including Missouri, which floated (and seems to now be adjusting based on blowback) restrictions for women with very likely non-viable and potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancies.

    Don’t kid yourselves, these attempts will only get more and more brazen. Will evangelicals toe the party line and simply let women lose their rights and/or be forced to die, or will this be a time for a compassionate awakening and the start of real conversations about the history of abortion rights and conservative Christianity in America?

  2. As all sorts of restrictive laws around LGBTQ rights for minors continue to swirl around, will evangelicals be willing to open their minds (and churches, unlike this sad case) to those in the eye of the storm? Given the elevated suicide risk among these children, is it better to let them die or extend a helping hand in love?

There’s no shortage of overconfident evangelicals that will proudly quote their preferred interpretation of Bible passages as a way to whistle right past these sheep in the pit.

As for what Jesus himself would do? I have a pretty good guess, and it’s time to start loudly and publicly talking about it.