Of darkness and discourse, culpability and connection

I try to refrain from being overtly political on my blog, but politics and theology (and ministry especially) are intimately linked, and the attempted murder of a Congresswoman, by definition, is a political issue. These are my rough thoughts following the massacre in Arizona, which took the lives of six people, and wounded 12 more, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Most of this is cobbled together and fleshed out from my posts to facebook and twitter, and some other things I’ve seen around the web. I encourage you to read a couple other beautifully written thoughts: a prayer written by my colleague Carl Shepherd, and a reflection from Atlantic.com commenter. Both of these appear as facebook notes on friends’ pages, and so might not be accessible to all right now. Oh, and as always, what Keith said.

I wrote this weekend that I worship a guy who was assassinated, not by a fringe character, but by an entire system of fear, power, and dehumanization. That same faith teaches me to revere all life, to recognize and celebrate the power of connection– to self, to others, and to the Divine– and that we all have responsibility to one another as part of the human family, children of one Parent. In the wake of great tragedy, we can do little more than pray, whatever that looks like in our personal contexts. In my case, it meant mostly sitting gape-mouthed and brokenhearted, barely able to get much further than the thought “how long, O Lord?” and hugging my delightful, brilliant, promise-filled daughter (who is nearly 6, not 9, but that’s irrelevant) hard enough to take her breath away.

There are not words or ways to make sense of this. Even with a perpetrator in custody, even if a motive came forward, even if we could point fingers at our leaders and commentators and political characters. Nothing can bring back a 9 year old girl, a devoted public servant, a man on the brink of new beginnings, a husband whose body fell upon that of his wife, friends, loved ones, children, parents, our sisters and brothers. Nothing in this life.

I’d like to blame Sarah Palin and her “reload” message and her map with crosshairs on Arizona’s 8th district. I’d like to blame Jesse Kelley (Giffords’ Tea-Party-backed opponent), who held a campaign event where he invited people to shoot an M16 with him and “get on target to remove Giffords.” I’d like to blame the whole Tea Party, and Sharon Angle, and Glen Beck, and Bill O’Reilly and Fox News and anyone else who repeatedly used the metaphor of guns and violence to stir up excitement about their political ideals. I’d like to blame them because it would feel better to have a logical explanation. I’d like to blame them, if I’m honest, because I plain old don’t like them. I’d like to blame them, most of all, because I don’t believe that their voices or any violent voices should have a place in American political discourse. I’d like to see the Arizona massacre signal the end of violent language in our politics, media, and leadership. Then, like Pandora’s box releasing, finally, hope, something worthy would come of this senseless tragedy.

We can’t blame these people, these voices, entirely. I don’t believe Ms. Palin intended to call for violence or murder; I think she really is that ignorant of the consequences of words and actions. Her extreme poor judgment makes me ever more grateful she’s not a (pretty old) heartbeat away from the Presidency. She and others did not make this happen, but their insistence that it has nothing to do with their rhetoric (while simultaneously scrambling to remove all violent references from their respective websites) shows even more ignorance or bold-faced denial of their contributions to a negative discourse.

While I can’t blame them entirely, neither will I absolve them, because no one lives and functions in a vacuum– not even a disturbed, nihilistic young man with nonsensical conspiracy theories about currency and grammar. No one is immune to the poison that seeps into the lifeblood of our culture when we allow let alone promote the language of violence, dehumanization, and warfare as part of our political discourse. We have all contributed to this culture of violence; we all say and do things that perpetuate the dehumanization of our foes, our leaders, our political adversaries. Dismissing the shooter as a mentally ill “fringe character” simultaneously minimizes and trivializes our  very real culpability in this tragedy and stigmatizes people living with mental illness, perpetuating our demonizing and demeaning trajectory.

How long, O Lord? How long will we live in violence? How long will we harden our hearts to your message of love, to the call to live in harmony with others, even and especially those with whom we disagree? How long will we continue the unbroken cycle of word and deed, calling again for the death of the shooter, for violence (and yes, it incites in me violent rage) against hate groups already planning to picket the funerals of the victims?

May we embrace instead true nonviolence, as described by another man, also assassinated by a lone gunman, in a culture and atmosphere of power, fear, and dehumanization:

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Heaven help us, because we most certainly can’t help ourselves.

45 thoughts on “Of darkness and discourse, culpability and connection”

  1. Rebecca – I find myself going here and there with your post. The last line is particularly frightening to me – the notion that we “can’t help ourselves”.

    Another word that frightens me is “assassination” regarding the crucifixion. We Christians are particularly vulnerable here, aren’t we, because we still embrace a God who require(d) death.

    The greatest struggle I have – whether thinking about this, writing about it, or having to speak to it – has to do with identifying just exactly what the issue is. Theologically I know we can call it “sin”. There are other sociological and psychological terms for it, some of which you use in your post (mental illness, fringe, dehumanize). But still … just what exactly is it that we are talking about here?

    I just don’t know. And I think you are struggling in this post to figure it out. Thanks for thinking out loud.

    1. Thanks, Mark. yes, that’s me and my extroverted self trying to process “out loud” because I don’t know what I think otherwise.

      I think in terms of “helping ourselves” I’m trying to convey that we are the level of consciousness that has created this problem and so we can’t entirely fix it. There’s a brokenness in us that we work to overcome, but that is not ultimately overcome by our own doing. Particularly, when I consider the quote from MLK and the challenge there, not only to act (or speak) without violence, but to not think with it either– much like some other man saying that it is not enough to be faithful in action (not commit adultery, for example), but to be faithful in thought and intention (not even look at a person with lust). As in Jesus’ example, thinking and intending in faithfulness are much more difficult, if not nearly impossible. It’s not something I can do on my own.

      The crucifixion trips me up theologically precisely because I do not want to say it was required. Was it necessary? A forgone conclusion? The one and only response humanity has ever had to those who threaten our power and self-centered living? Yes. But does that mean God required it? Cannot atone, forgive, or connect with us without death? I’m unwilling to go there. That Jesus’ death was in part political (hence the use of assassination) is easier to grasp than what it meant and means theologically. I can speak more coherently about what that moment says about us and our brokenness than what it says about God.

      In terms of this situation, I agree: I don’t know what we’re trying to talk about. I only know that we have to say something, so that silence doesn’t communicate callousness, and we have to try to change (repent!) those things that contributed to it. I’m not willing to say “lest the victims die in vain,” because this was a horribly vain event, pointless and senseless. Where it differed from the assassinations from my parents’ generation is in the targeting of bystanders, including a child, in addition to the political target. The peppering of bullets, the broad-based murder, this is something my generation has seen over and over– Columbine, Oklahoma City, 9/11… but now the combination of one target and then mass killing, this is a strange and terrible thing. Perhaps our weapons are more “effective” now for rapid-fire destruction and large-scale devastation, but there’s an increasingly large and indiscriminate bent toward murder that to me is terrifying and makes me ramble. like now.

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for reading and commenting. I think if you read the post as a whole, you’ll see that I’m not placing blame, but suggesting that we all need to consider the consequences and implications of our words.
      Rachel Maddow spoke really well last night about the difference between rhetoric and actual speculation by actual candidates about using guns against politicians. I’m betting, though, that you’re about as likely to check that out as I am to click and read something on michellemalkin dot com. I’m all for venturing outside my echo chamber, but that’s a little to far a stretch for me.

      1. Then you are closed minded Becka. I listen and watch those on all sides. I just agree more with those who are more conservative. Maddow and Olberman are just as viscious as anyone else as is Cris Mathews and Big Ed!

  2. Come off it, “Tom”. You quote MIchelle Malkin for evidence that “the left” calls for shooting people (‘the Second Amendment alternative”) who disagree?

    So you believe Joseph Goebbels, who insisted that Poland attacked Nazi Germany?

    Do your own research. Don’t depend on Coulter Malkin Beck, who simply don’t care about ethics and morals.

  3. Tom – Good points.

    Becca – Like so many on the left, you say one thing and then say that is not what I am doing. You are certainly laying blame on this on Sarah Palin and others. You say it yourself after going on about the people who support the constitution. I can’t blame them entirely. Not to blame entirely is still to blame. Truth is, Sarah Palin is the only national political figure who has shown true leadership on this. The sherrif balmes it on people who support the country and the constitution, then we find out he hires a law firm to protect his office because they had been to the shooters house twice before. I submit that it will be very interesting of that information is ever released. Since Obama has made the government so much more open and transparent, I would not count on it. To say Jesus was assainated. I think you need to look at the definition. He was tried. Pilate found him innocent but turned him over to the crowd to prevent a possible riot. (Roman emporers did not like riots and were known to fire those who did not prevent them) you can say he was murdered or killed. I would even accept that he was tried and sentenced to death. But assainated, no.

    Lastly. You fail to mention those who have politicized the event because it conflicts with the world as you see it in your bubble. the Sherrif was the first to politicize it blaming it on all things tea party. Then the democrats start using it as a political fund raiser. There is a strong push by the left to relate this to the attack plan the democrats used with the Oklahoma City bombing. Change the facts and lie if necessary. It is the Republicans fault. This time, it appears it did not work. As Obama’s team has shown, never let a good crises go to waste.

    1. Hi Allen,

      Thanks for reading and commenting back.

      In the video I linked to with Keith Olbermann, Keith mentions not only the violent rhetoric of the “right,” but calls all people, right, left and center, to repudiate violent speech and action. We can’t control what people say and do, certainly not folks at rallies with signs (of any political persuasion), but we can each be responsible for ourselves. Keith apologized (again) for comments he made about then-candidate Clinton that could have sounded like he meant them to be violent.

      I use the term assassination with respect to Christ intentionally, to highlight the political nature of his message and of the objections of many to it. Certainly he was also theological and spiritual, but the primary objection people had to him was political: claiming to be “king of the jews.” I’d argue that his trial was largely for show. Apart from the scheduled nature of his execution, however, the rest of the metaphor is evocative.

      I do disagree with using a tragedy for political means, and yet how often have people of all political persuasions evoked 9/11? Pearl Harbor? The Alamo? It happens. My own Senator, a man I deeply respect, sent a fundraising email (I didn’t receive it, but heard about it), mentioning the Arizona shooting, and has been called into question for it. It certainly shows a lapse in judgment for our otherwise very thoughtful Senator.


  4. Rebecca,

    I find it really disturbing the way people such as yourself has politicized this horrible tragedy. The more facts that come out the more obvious it is that this had nothing to do with “heated rhetoric” but an insane man who did something unspeakable for reasons that no sane person will ever understand.

    Also, I’d take your call to civility a lot more seriously if you were to denounce the kinds of things Tom mentioned above.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Donnie.

      As I said in my post, I believe none of us live and function in a vacuum. Or, as I saw online this week, retweeted so many times I don’t know the original source, “in a world where we are all interconnected, there’s no such thing as a lone gunman.”

      It is that sense of shared responsibility for which I am advocating. I don’t we can divorce a person, no matter how unstable, from the environment in which he or she lives.

      As for your last point, fair enough. In case I have not been clear: violence is wrong. Violent speech and metaphor are wrong. I don’t care toward whom they are directed, or from whom they come. I am particularly disturbed when the speakers and the, for lack of a better word, targets, are public figures, because it draws more attention and that gives it more opportunity to sink into the minds of violent individuals.

      Hope that helps.

  5. Becca
    You start by saying you can’t blame these people but then you go one to not only blame them but list by name who you do blame. After having blamed them, you then refuse to absolve them. Additionally, you accuse Sarah Palin of being too stupid to understand the consequences of her words or able to exercise sound judgement. Harsh words. You seem to have trouble distinguishing between an assassination and an execution. One is authorized by the state. The other is not. What disturbs me most is that in your follow on post you question the necessity of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. His sacrifice is core to Christianity. We remember it every time we celebrate the sacrament of communion. Our atonement is bought with His body and blood. Absolutely required. Heb 7:27, 13:12, Acts 20:28, Gal 3:13, 1 Cor 5:7 for starters. By the time you read this I will have already prayed for you that you may achieve a deeper understanding of what Jesus did for us.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Kevin, and thanks for the prayers. I too pray for a deeper understanding of what Jesus did and is still doing!

      As I said in an earlier comment, I do use the word “assassination” in a metaphorical and intentionally evocative way. And in my comment to Mark, though it may not be clear, I wrote that Jesus’ death was *necessary* but I hesitate to say God required it. (“Was it necessary? A forgone conclusion? The one and only response humanity has ever had to those who threaten our power and self-centered living? Yes. But does that mean God required it? Cannot atone, forgive, or connect with us without death? I’m unwilling to go there.”)

      Is this splitting hairs? Perhaps. What I am trying to do is understand and live out my faith in the cross and the empty tomb in a way that takes seriously both the depth of human brokenness and God’s grace, while at the same time not placing our own categories of retribution and violence upon a God who surpasses our understanding. My personal spirituality involves much wrestling in the dark and living in the questions, and while that can be challenging and can cause pause, particularly for people just coming in to a portion of the conversation in a forum such as this, I find it helps me know my God and my Savior in ever deeper ways.


      1. Was Jesus death required? Sure was. It was all part of God’s promise to us. Without sacrifice there could be no redemption. It goes back to the ancient covenant with Abraham. One of the better explanations I have seen was here. http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_covenant.html
        Oath & Solemn Ceremony. The most common method of ratifying a treaty involved the cutting up of an animal. The unspoken implication was that if the covenant was broken, then the offender would become like the animal. It is thought that from this ceremony is derived the common Hebrew idiom karat berît – “to cut a covenant” (Gen. 15:18; Jer. 34:18) (Hillers, 1969:41). Whatever the original derivation of the term it seems to have meant simply “to make a covenant” (Nicholson, 1986: 102).
        Genesis 15 describes the covenant ceremony by which the Lord confirms his promise that Abraham will possess the land. The details of the ceremony (15:9-21) are usually linked with a similar passage in Jeremiah 34 (vv.18-22) and seen in terms of an enacted curse: the party who violated the covenant was bound to become like the slain animals. Instead of walking between the separated bodies Abraham was sent into a deep sleep (v.12) and so the Lord passed through alone (v.17) and this is generally seen as indicating that he was solely obligated to fulfil the covenant promises. However, other passages in Genesis make it clear that Abraham still had a part to play in the covenant relationship (Gen. 17:1-4; 18:19; 22:2, 16-18; 26:4-5) (Youngblood, 1983: 36-41).

        Knowing that we would eventually break the covenant God made the covenant walk alone. Once broken God alone would pay the price and therefore His body had to be broken because God keeps His promises even when we do not.

        1. That is certainly one very solid interpretation of what the crucifixion means theologically. I simply suggest that there are other interpretations and metaphors. The Passover Lamb, whose blood averts disaster, for instance. The Scapegoat, who takes away our sins. Two examples lifted right out of the phrase “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” But there are many others. That’s the beauty of our faith, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


    2. On the subject of Sarah Palin, I want there to be no misunderstanding. I did not mean to imply that she was ignorant of the consequences of her words, or not capable intellectually of understanding them.

      I meant to outright state it.

      I see only two options: either Ms. Palin comes up with or is given things to say and has no clue what they mean or the consequences they might have, or she does know what they mean and what consequences they might have, and she doesn’t care. The first choice suggests carelessness or ignorance. The second suggests a level or moral depravity, and a willingness to place her own political career above the lives and safety and wellbeing of others. So, for example, in placing crosshairs on a map, one must either not think about consequences enough to notice that the metaphor is violent, even when people– Representative Giffords included– point it out, or one must see that possibility, but dismiss it out of a stronger desire for political gain. Then, in defending that action and using the phrase “blood libel,” one must either be ignorant of the historical and emotional significance of that term as it applied to actions and statements made against Jewish people to demonize them and justify their slaughter, or must disregard these connotations because one’s own political shock value is of greater importance.

      Carelessness or callousness; ignorance or moral depravity. Either one, in my opinion, renders her voice irrelevant in public discourse and confirms her as a horrid choice of person to hold a position of high political leadership in our country.

      Carelessness or callousness; ignorance or moral depravity. Flip a coin, make a call. I was giving her the benefit of the doubt in choosing the former. I was being nice.

      Seeking peace,

  6. At least with Kevin and Mark offering their dissenting opinions they managed to keep things on topic and argue their points with civility.

    Tom, Donnie and Allen seem to have missed the point entirely and perpetuate the very acts they decry and accuse the “left” of possessing.

    I also noticed that all three happened to use buzzwords from yesterday’s and today’s Rush Limbaugh program.


  7. Minty Fresh – very appropriate. Can’t say I listen to Rush but that is a page out of the left’s handbook. When you can not support a stance with facts then make up your own facts and play the blame game.

  8. Becca – I was surprised that you used the term assassination intentionally. I always thought the trial was very legitimate but when the Jews didn’t get the result they threatened to riot in order to get the chance to crucify him. The fact that the trial could have been for show is something for me to ponder.

    I have wondered before what would have happened if Pilate would have demonstrated integrity and intestinal fortitude and said no we are not crucifying Jesus because he has broken no Roman law. I do think his crucifiction was necessary to fullfill prophesey just as the second coming is needed to fulfill phrophesy.

    I did read something in the news and I forget who said it. It read something like when we take prayer and God out of school, Satan is still their to fill the void.

  9. Always need to refresh the reasons for my leaving the Methodist Church. At times I wander back hopefully to find the church that once was, only to be reminded of the political types who have hijacked the once great church. there always was a fine line between biblical study and “social justice.” Good luck diving headlong into the latter, which means progressyve activism. John Wesley weeps in heaven. read some of his sermons. the new methodist is not so smart.

    1. Hi David,

      The curious thing is that many people feel the UMC has fallen away from the great church it once was, but for completely opposite reasons. Likewise, United Methodists and Christians alike differ in their understanding of how the gospel of Christ and social justice are linked. While imperfect as all human institutions are, I believe the UMC is striving toward a deeper and truer witness in the world, and participating in a part of the Body of Christ that lives faith in the pews and in the streets lifts me up personally and draws me closer to God. I hope you have found a spiritual home that does the same for you.


      1. I agree with David, Becka! Though still a United Methodist, I have found the Methodist Church’s political activism very disturbing. My more conservative views are not represented by the hierarchy of the UMC. We need to concentrate more on saving souls and bringing people to Christ and if we do that, then everything else will solve itself.
        There is a reason Baptist are growing and Methodism is shrinking.

    2. Social Justice has long been a part of Methodist history and theology. Please see the following works:

      By our church historian, Richard P. Heitzenrater: http://www.amazon.com/Poor-People-Called-Methodists/dp/068705155X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295209913&sr=8-1

      John Wesley’s theology and social justice: http://www.amazon.com/Good-News-Poor-Evangelical-Economics/dp/0687155282/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b

      Our long history is interwoven with caring for the poor, the sick, those in prison, those who are addicted, and more. Wesley himself instructed Methodists to be involved in prison visitation and so-called “progressive” projects like providing housing and education to orphans.

      I encourage you to find out the spiritual depth and authenticity of social action as part of Methodist faith. What makes me weep is that certain Methodists put their conservative agenda’s above God’s commands to love our neighbors as ourselves.

      1. Thanks for the reply, Carolyn, and for those resources. The very social justice focus that some bemoan is the reason I am Methodist, and proud to be so.


  10. The US Census estimates there are now about 308 million people in the US. We have all heard the same rhetoric from the LEFT as well as the Right.
    We have all been exposed, yet 307,999,999 of us did not wake up that day and decide to go shoot a member of Congress. You are just WRONG Becka!

    1. But, Ronnie, one of us did. And that’s one of us too many. And I think we all need to take that seriously, regardless of our political affiliations. Again, I repeat what I said above: We have all contributed to this culture of violence; we all say and do things that perpetuate the dehumanization of our foes, our leaders, our political adversaries.

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      1. Do not speak for me Becka. I have never condoned violence in any form nor have I contributed in any way to a “culture of violence’. Perhaps you have, but trust me I have not! Your opinion of “Dehumanizing” open and honest debate is a typical ploy of those who wish to stop such debate. My point about the 307 plus million who did not do what that person did simply speaks to the fact that there is no proof by you or anyone else that any political discourse contributed to this horrendous act. According to people I have heard speak who knew this young man he had a grudge against the Congresswoman since 2007. Question: Did you do an article like this when the liberals were calling Bush and Cheney such horrible names?

        1. On that I would push back, not just at Ronnie, but at all of us. I don’t think any one of us can say we’ve never contributed in any way to a culture of violence. It’s like saying we have no sin. In fact, I think we all contribute, and we all need to look at how we do so.


  11. I found this post very engaging, moving and thoughtful. Sure it rambled a bit, but that’s Becca thinking out loud! You haven’t caused such a stir since March 17. Perhaps it’s the darkness that we fear, and struggle to find the faith and words to face. God love you Becca. Keep up the faithful witness, all in your own way. And God bless your family and congregation for supporting this important ministry.

  12. Dear Rev. Becca, You assume that there are no Tea Partiers and Palin supporters in the UMC, despite its avowedly left-leaning clergy such as yourself. But the fact is: there are. Gov. Nikki Haley, for one. I hope you do not dislike us as much as you mentioned in the post: we are your flock too. Thanks for mentioning that Jared Loughner is no tea partier.

    I have a question – as a conservative who lives in a “blue” metropolitan area, how do I feel comfortable in my local UMC where the left-wing rhetoric in the pulpit constantly distresses and alienates me? Mind you, I am all for social justice – I am not for the kind of statism that has led out nation into moral and fiscal bankruptcy under the Republican and Democratic administrations.

    Alienated in California, William

    1. William,

      Your comment gives me pause.

      I do not assume that the UMC is devoid of Tea Partiers or Palin supporters, or any other group we can think of. Dick Cheney, after all, is a card-carrying Methodist. So is Hilary Clinton. So are you. So am I. I’m proud of this denomination of ours that takes all comers, and teaches the grace and love of God in Christ across a wide sweep of worldviews, cultures, and political viewpoints. And you’re right: to paint people who resonate with the Tea Party with a broad brush is wrong of me. All I have seen of it is the public portrayal, and with that I have deeply disagreed. But it is unfair of me to cast blame on all those who support it– I greatly disapprove of all those I’ve seen speak for it, but that’s a different matter. Thanks for that clarification.

      I hear the genuine pain and concern in your question, and I wish I had an answer for you. I can only tell you what I do. Where I live– as where you live– the UMC seems a very liberal denomination indeed. And yet, in our country as a whole, and certainly in the worldwide United Methodist Connection, it is a much more traditional movement at this time. This pains me deeply, because I want to see some of our policies changed, and there seems to be little progress. All I can do is hold fast to my belief that, of all the imperfect attempts to be the people of God, the UMC is for me the closest to being faithful. I love it despite its weaknesses and the places where in my mind we fall short. So I hold on to it even when I disagree, and focus on the larger picture of the ministry we do in Christ’s name. I articulate what I believe and try to be true to my understanding of the Divine as best I can.

      It’s not great advice, or very satisfying. The best I can offer you is that for a different reason, in a different context, but with the same love for my denomination and my fellow Methodists, I really do feel your pain.

      Bless you,

    2. keep the faith William. It sure looks like the UMC intends to remain a conservative church. Traditionalists are waking up and drawing the lines in the sand. I pray that the movement to reject new inclusive ideas will succeed. there will be painful days ahead for many on both sides of the debate.

  13. Dear Rev. Becca,
    The shooter was seriously mentally ill! As a Christian, I hope that he’s found not guilty by reason of insanity. We should not execute the mentally ill!

    However, the blame for this shooting lies squarely on this man’s mental illness, In Biblical times, we would have called him demon-possessed. In any event, the culpability lies with this man’s demons (or mental illness, however you want to phrase it). The culpability does not lie with the American nation or with our Second Amendment rights to bear arms. Yes, there is a culture of violence in the media and in video games that needs to be addressed. But gratuitous violence in the media had nothing to with it either. Neither did the ‘vitriolic tone’ of talk show hosts etc.

    God bless – William

    1. I agree with you that the shooter should (and probably will) use insanity as a defense, as he does not appear mentally stable enough to stand trial. Even if he were, I object to the death penalty, but especially in this case since the killer is so ill.

      It does seem that this young man was not motivated by any one or any thing in particular, nor can we even assume that he had a clear enough understanding of reality to even think about it the way most people do. Still, it is my belief that we can, as a society, create atmospheres of peace or of violence, and that we have lately been creating the latter. Because I believe we are all interconnected, I don’t think we can ignore how our “atmospheres” seep into other people, particularly those least able to make sense of the world around them.

      Blessings to you as well,

  14. Hi Becca. First let me say, “well worded.”

    But, I really pick up a bias here; one that is shared in the broader UMC, especial with our Bishops and General leaders. If an American Muslim commits a wild, vicious crime. (Which HAS happend recently.) What we hear is “a call for tolerance.”

    When liberals act up it is called being “prophetic.”

    When conservatives speak out they are contributing to a culture of violence.

    By the way, you DIDN’T mention President Obama’s words of “they bring a knife, we bring a gun.”

    Clearly, a bias.

    1. Hi Pastor,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I would simply say that I do indeed have a bias– we all do– and I acknowledge that. I am indeed liberal/progressive (although I don’t think the majority of the UMC is, just some of the higher ups in the United States), and I state that openly in my bio. A conservative or traditional pastor/blogger/commentator etc would have a similar list of things; when conservatives act up, they are making a point about our country’s founding principles, but when liberals speak out they’re being sanctimonious. Again, we all have our biases. The people I’ll call out as bluffing are the ones who claim they don’t!

      I don’t think President Obama’s comments about bringing a knife/gun to a fight were or are appropriate. I did not post a diatribe about it at the time, but then again, there hadn’t been people expressing concern about the language for months on end and then a national incident of a gun at a knife fight. It is, however, equally wrong to use as a metaphor in this climate.

      Thanks again for your comments.


  15. That is correct:

    “They bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun!”
    – Pres. Obama in Philedelphia, June 11, 2009

    You Methodists liberals never mention things like this…….

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