This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations I serve.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cheering for Death.

            In the last two presidential debates, the audience, all of whom were from a particular party, erupted into spontaneous cheers on two telling occasions.
            In the first case, the governor of Texas was asked a question about the hundreds of people who were put to death by the State during his administration.  Before he could even answer, the crowd started clapping its approval.  A group of people who are supposed to be against government and its overreaching, started cheering the ultimate expression of State power: killing people.  The governor, no doubt sensing a friendly audience, then stated powerfully and without a hint of apology his belief in the State’s right to take life.  So much for “smaller government.” 
            But it’s not just the hypocrisy that is disturbing.  It is the overt, shameless enthusiasm for State-sponsored murder that chills the soul. 
            The second example was in the next debate.  One candidate was asked a question about someone who intentionally declined to purchase health insurance.  What, if anything, should be done if this person gets seriously ill?  The candidate danced around about personal responsibility for a while, until some in the crowd started helping him out: “Let him die!” they shouted.  It was the clear implication of the candidate’s “philosophy,” and he did nothing to separate himself from this sentiment.
            This enthusiasm for death – and I am waiting for the next debate when someone asks a question about war – indicates a deeply hateful, fearful, violent, and angry way of looking at the world.  It demands that we ask whether we want such people, or leaders beholden to such people, in charge of our government.
            What is even more perverse is that at the former candidate loudly proclaims his Christianity.  Jesus Christ was himself executed by the government.  Is it possible to read the New Testament in such a way as to imagine Jesus approving of the death penalty?  Jesus freely healed anyone who came to him, regardless of their politics, religion, morals, or responsibility.  Is it possible to read the gospels in such a way as to imagine Jesus letting someone, anyone, die rather than be healed of a disease?
            No.  The governor’s “Christianity” is the Christianity-without-Jesus we see all too often.  Except to reject it, Jesus does not recognize the murderous, vindictive, hateful, bigoted, violent, self-righteous, judgmental, condemnatory, unforgiving version of religion that many calling themselves “Christians” espouse and practice.  (To his credit, the other candidate as far as I can tell doesn’t even pretend to be a Christian.  He clearly and explicitly follows the godless philosophy of the novelist, Ayn Rand.)
            In both of these cases I am reminded of another crowd gathered before another leader.  That crowd also made its enthusiasm for death known.  Their cry was “Crucify him!”  We’re dealing with the same kind of people here.
            John writes that “perfect love casts out all fear.”  Today we see the opposite in the words and actions of some: that perfect fear casts out all love.  These people already control a large part of our government.  May God have mercy on us if we give them any more authority.
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