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The Angry Song

Remember about, um, ten years ago, there was this cartoon called “Anamaniacs”? I used to love that show. It was really funny—well, silly—and it had these three siblings who ran around and pulled pranks and sang songs about the capitals of the 50 states. Once, they sang a song about being mad. At least, it started out about being mad. It was like, “I’m mad, I’m mad, I’m reallyreallyreally mad…”

Well, yesterday that song was stuck in my head.

Why? you ask. What made you so mad that only a song could capture your turbulent emotions?

Well, it’s been building. I was forwarded a link to something Donald Miller wrote—about President Bush, republicans, and conservatives in general. His timing could not have been worse as far as I’m concerned. I’d been reading his “Searching for God Knows What” and that already made me more than irritated. I actually had to stop reading, put the book down, and move on. Breathe. Write. Vent.

I mean, okay, everyone’s entitled to an opinion. Obviously. I mean, I love giving my opinion on things.

But I was severely irked by Miller’s attitude. If you want to, you can read his article. But if you are conservative, be warned: you, too, will be singing the angry song. I went to a place where you could post comments about the article and proceeded to do so.

It seems to me that there is something going on within Christianity. A division of sorts. A chasm, if you will. A rift this deep has two distant sides, and, so it seems, no middle ground.

Personally, I am tired of the grand, sweeping, generalizations being made. I don’t like being lumped in—I never have. I’m sick of feeling like I have to choose a side, that I’m in a tug of war between Hilary Clinton and Jerry Falwell. I really don’t want to be associated with either of them. I don’t think I completely agree with any political party. You know why? Because nothing is perfect. And you know why that is? Because no one is perfect.

Salvation is not found in a political party or in its leaders. Or in its followers.

And everyone is going to have an opinion. Usually it will be in conflict with someone else’s. Does that mean we can’t get along? If I met Donald Miller, would I be able to have a civilized conversation? I would like to think so. We are, after all, brothers and sisters in Christ. I know we must have some theology in common.

The truth is, we have all been burned by those whose opinions were different from ours; we have all had those frustrating conversations that end up being a one-sided rant by someone who refuses to listen or think about anything other than what he has already made up his mind about. For me, those conversations have come from both sides of the political and religious spectrum. I’ve been just as frustrated by some conservatives I’ve known as I have with some liberals. Being annoying isn’t a trait exclusive to either party, unfortunately.

But what really gets me is this sudden, vicious turn of popularity against Conservative Christianity by the “relevant” and “post-modern” branch of Christianity. I’ve heard a lot of things lately that have really set my teeth on edge. Like I said, I’ve had my share of things that have bothered me about the conservative church. However, both of the good and the bad I’ve experienced has been the result of individuals. You can’t lump an entire branch of Christianity together and label it all “bad” or “malfunctioning.” That won’t solve anything. Actually, it creates problems: alienation and division.

We as a body ought to stop focusing on our differing political views. We are Americans, so we have an obligation to be involved in our country. But when it gets in the way of unity, perhaps we need to step back. At the end of the day, I think we all want the same things. We may go about it in different ways, but we are all reading the same Bible. We may have different interpretations, even different focuses, but the bottom line is, we’re part of the same Body. We have to work together. It’s not an option. Jesus, our Head, is already at work making us unified. Fighting over political stuff just gets in the way of that.

I could go on and on; but I won’t. Any more and I’d be on a rant of my own…and just doing the same thing I got so mad about. 

[Edit: I've since reconciled my opinion of Donald Miller...I think it's safe to say both of us have grown and been stretched and developed a little more grace & humility since these words were first written.  I would recommend "Blue Like Jazz" and "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" to just about anybody.]


Brianne said...

Oh my dear lord.

I have too much to say. Not enough comment space. Too mad to type straight. Must talk to you later. Rock on for commenting, by the way. I scrolled down until i saw yours.

Tim said...

What in Searching for God Knows What made you mad in comparison to what Donald Miller wrote last week?

I am reading S4GKW now and I am finding it very challenging to my heart and so-called relationship with God and others. I am only 4 chapters into it, but I started it once before and got to the chapter on Jesus and nearly started weeping at the cafe where I was reading it. But I am interested in what made you upset.

As for Miller's intentions about his comments about Bush, etc, I'm not so sure he was trying to divide, as our country is already at that point. But I do think he is probably trying to break many of us out of the robotic toe-the-party-line mentality that often appears. I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

Like you, I cannot join up either Hiliary or Jerry. I am finding that I am more of that middle/moderate group everytime I re-examine my political views to be in line with the gospel. For example, when I say I am pro-life - does that mean I am pro-life for only abortions, or should I also be pro-life in the areas of the death penalty and war, too? That's a tough question if I toe the party line.

Congrats on your publication!

bryan allain said...

JM, I dont think Don is trying to divide with his comments. I think he is just being honest about his thoughts on politics and the influence of evangelical america on the president.

It feels to me like you are letting those comments be divisive. I don't mean that in an accusatory way at all.

i know for a fact that you could sit down with Don and have amazing conversations about the things you agree on and disagree on. I was lucky enought to do that myself with him last month when i first met him.

I agree that we all read from the same Bible, and that our common faith transcends any political debate. If we really believe that, then we can agree to disagree about the stuff that is not important like "coke or pepsi?", "is harry potter bad?", and "are you a republican or democrat?".

in any event, i hope you are doing well and i thank you for being honest about how you feel. i can assure you that Don is only doing the same, and not trying to divide or antagonize.

bryan, the donmillerfans.net guy

Tim said...

Hi JM, thank you for replying with a comment on my blog. I appreciate that and your honesty.

I'm trying to determine whether I have not reached parts that might make me angry or if maybe my experiences with conservatives, Christian or otherwise, have tilted me to not be as angry about what I've been reading.

Or maybe it is because I no longer think politics and following Jesus mix anymore. I can no longer listen to people such as Pat Robertson mix Jesus and politics and believe it's the truth of what Jesus would want me to follow.

That said, I can't say that I support many liberals in politics. I think taxes should be minimal at worst and zero at best. I think that community should support those who are needy and not a government that is too big, too slow, and too inpersonal to care for people. But that said, I am finding that I don't agree enough with any politicians and would rather just wash my hands of politics altogether.

And as far as I've read, S4GKW has helped me to separate Jesus from politics, and I like that very much. It's what I've needed, even if Miller puts down someone I had previously or presently respected. But I'll also keep my mind open and alert to what may be lurking ahead. :)

Tim said...

BTW - how do you like Pittsburgh? I was born and raised just outside of Pittsburgh and still love the city very much. Just curious.

Tim said...

JM, thank you for your thoughts. I'll have to check out Waking the Dead sometime. I've had to stop listening to political talk shows. I just can't stand them anymore.

Have you had a Primanti Bros sandwich yet? If not, I highly recommend it. It's completely unhealthy, but soooo worth it! And I definitely recommend starting at the original pub in the Strip District rather than the restaurants in the burbs.

Carol said...

I agree whole heartedly. Why can't we just agree on the essentials and stop being divisive? We all have our own idea of how things should be. And by the way, I've have tried Primanti Bros and really didn't like it. But that's just my preference.