Cranking Up the Cranium

This first week I have spent a lot of time posting on our government that is not productive due to politicians not finding a way to get along, the fact that there is such a thing as middle ground between extremes when it comes to politics, the idea that politics and spirituality are strange bedfellows and finally the role of the pastor in all of this political mess.

Today I want to pull back and discuss this black and white stuff.

Why do we talk about the world in extreme terms? Why do we like to use ideas like white [a color due to the reflection of most wavelengths of visible light; the opposite of black:] and black [of the very darkest color owing to the absence of or complete absorption of light; the opposite of white].

What is the value of all this extreme thought?

Well you might be surprised but the greatest value is it helps us to use our brains less.

I don’t know what happens to some people. As they get older, life gets to be a struggle and they want to “cut to the chase” to use a common cliché.   They want the “quick and dirty” answers.  They don’t want to examine issues which are difficult.  Too often they just want someone to give them the answers.

This is where black or white comes in. People want to classify others as black or white or liberal or conservative but let me tell you, as Pastor Hamilton says, “we humans are an odd and somewhat confused lot.  We defy black and white categorization.”

He cites Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, you know that church that likes to station church members along routes going from funeral homes to cemeteries. Those church members have controversial messages about homosexuals and how America is being punished for tolerating them.  In Christian County, Kentucky [where I live] the county passed an ordinance banning this type of display since they were going to do this at a military funeral.

Fred Phelps was a lawyer who fought for civil rights for African Americans after he left law school. He was highly regarded by the NAACP due to his work opposing discrimination based on race.

He defies black and white categorization.

A few years ago a very good friend in my Sunday school class loaned me a popular book about Fox New founder, chairman and CEO Roger Ailes [Roger Ailes, Off Camera].   This friend knew I was different than him because of how I reacted to news of the day in Sunday school.  When he gave me the book, I wondered “what is he up to?”  Out of respect for him I read it from cover to cover and I was shocked.  I figured a man like Ailes only dealt with extreme right wing people but I soon saw that he did not.  He had relationships with all kinds of people from all over the political spectrum.  He called up liberals and conservatives daily and had friends from the left and right and worked hard all his life to understand the world of television, irrespective of any party affiliation.  I began to see Mr. Ailes in a whole new light.

He defies black and white categorization.

To be honest, life is like that. I don’t want you to jump to a conclusion that all moral choices in life are gray.  I am not advocating that.  I just want to point out that making decisions takes work, work that we often don’t want to do.  We want to shut our brains down quickly.  It is a strain to take the time to think through issues.

We have a candidate running for president now who is evolving right before us on the television screen. He defies description from time to time because he does one thing and says he believes another.  His “track record” says one thing because of the money he has given to support various causes and now he says he is the opposite of that.  His political party, from time to time, does not know what to do with him.  He does not fit their mold.

He defies black and white categorization.

Pastor Hamilton says “Many of us are liberal on some issues and conservative on others. Someone more conservative than you thinks of you as a liberal; likewise, your liberal neighbor considers you a conservative.”

These terms are of little use except to shut down the human mind. Pastor Hamilton will hopefully show us in upcoming chapters that Jesus offers a way to take our energies and be bridge builders, peacemakers and healers.

Get ready, it may require you to crank up your cranium.

That’s the opposite of shutting it down.

Remember, we are trying to avoid those extreme terms.


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