Wednesday, September 17, 2008

From the Valley of the Sun to Mile High City

The rumor is fact. My resignation was announced this past Sunday. My last Sunday here at Southwest will be September 28. My first Sunday at the University Church of Christ in Denver, CO, will be October 4. This has been a long process - almost a year's worth of prayer, counsel, agonizing, reevaluating, then finally coming to the realization that moving on was the only choice Leisa and I could make for our own spiritual health as well as for that of Southwest's. This has been both one of the most fruitful as well as one of the most frustrating ministries of our life. The victories and struggles have both reminded us (as have several of our friends and mentors) that from a human point of view the church will always be imperfect, but that is OK, because the church doesn't belong to us, WE ARE the church and we belong to Him!

Leisa and I are excited about the opportunity that God has put before us at University. Our aim is and will continue to be to please God by using the gifts He has given us to serve, encourage, and challenge His church to grow in grace and Christlikeness, and to point the way for others to come to know Christ.

More to come...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pigs, Pit Bulls, and Lipstick

Politics as a pastime can be very entertaining, but politics as the work of ordering a society for freedom and peace is serious business. Normally I wouldn't write about politics on this blog, but the recent brouhaha springing from Barak's use of the figure of speech, "You can put lipstick on a pig, but its still a pig," does fit the pattern of Ahithophel Thinking, which this blog is about.

Some supporters of McCain-Palin, took issue with Barak's use of that well known saying, linking it with Palin's joke about the difference between a Hockey Mom and a Pit Bull; lipstick. They interpreted the remark as Barak insinuating that Palin was a pig. To his credit, Governor Huckabee is giving Barak a pass, accepting the remark as a common expression, used for years. But others believe Barak has really crossed the line with this comment.

Barak, of course believes it silly for the McCain camp to react they way they have. His use of the phrase was not a jab at Palin.

All this reminds me of a similar brouhaha a couple months ago regarding the use of Barak's middle name Hussein. To which some supporters of Barak, and some Republicans as well, took issue with the use of his middle name believing it was being used to link Barak with Islamic fundamental terrorist. The defense of those who used Barak's middle name Hussein was that it was factual.

Which brings me to my point. We often hide behind the technical accuracy of a thing; "Hussein is his legal middle name," and "You can put lipstick on a pig... is a well known saying," but is this not a case of being right but about the wrong thing? That is Ahithophel thinking!

Being technically correct is not always the end of the matter. Now I cannot judge either Barak's heart or the heart of those who want to use Barak's middle name, but I believe most would agree that it would be the intent that makes either of these cases acceptable or not.

If the intent of using Hussein is to inflame and incite hatred, then it is certainly a dishonorable thing to do. If using the common saying as Barak did, was intended to inflame and insult Palin, then it too was a dishonorable thing to do. But what is most despicable in my view, is to use it in this negative rhetorical way, and then hide behind the technical accuracy of the words, claiming innocence the whole time.

At best, within the current context of this world and the all too often noxious political milieu, the use of Hussein and the expression Barak used is foolish. These people are 'Word Smiths,' and I believe they are fully able to measure the impact of their words. At worst, this kind of rhetoric is intended to wound and disparage their opponents; and is fully dishonorable. (And I admit it is hard not to think the dishonorable intent was present on both sides. I just can't prove it.)

The sad thing is that the collateral damage of this kind of campaigning - on both sides - is the loss of hope among the citizens that it really matters for whom you vote. My call is that both Republicans and Democrats will speak with greater honor, not just for their opponents sake, but more importantly for the sake of the American people. And I call on each of us, to measure our words very carefully. We may speak 'the truth' at least technically, but what is our intent?