Like an old-fashioned cough syrup ad, I’m not a prophet, but I play one on the web.
Yeah. Cute, huh?
Here’s whazzup: I am a “conservative” American living among conservative Americans yet finding that God hasn’t really blessed America anything like I ever thought. When 19 school kids die from hostile gun fire in their classroom, and when that is just the latest in a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong list of such shootings, that whole “God bless America” thingy starts ringing a bit hollow.
I am weary of it. Gutted by it. Sick of it. Burned by it. Tired of it. I am filled with contempt, and like the prophet of old, I struggle even to desire to live any more with it.
From my perspective, a perspective which is not entirely right, true, or accurate, but profoundly mine and certainly not devoid of righteousness, truth, or accuracy, those liberals and Democrats are either godless or at least they hover close enough. One of the main hallmarks of us conservative types is our insistence that God be honored in our culture, that we make real efforts to adhere to his will.
No. Not entirely right, true, or accurate, but nonetheless reflective of my starting point.
How I Got Here
For me, conservatives place a high value on personal responsibility. Freedom yes, but freedom responsibly managed – and not freedom to run wild into chaos. “Get a job, hippie!”
I have long questioned the undue fear of conservatives. I was born during the Tet Offensive when Americans were dropping like flies in an attempt to prevent “the domino effect” of communism in a faraway jungle land we had never heard of before. Even my Grandpa, a WWII vet who fought valiantly with Kamikazes and who raised an American flag up the flag pole in his own front yard even in decades when that was no longer “cool,” lamented that the Vietnam War was a tragic mistake. And it was!
(Strange that these same people who brought you the domino effect won’t wear a mask or get a jab! The same people who while Americans are dropping like flies from a virus accuse me of undue fear!)
It was a tragic mistake brought to you and perpetuated by presidents from both major parties, actually, but championed especially by conservatives. My dad signed up to fight in that one because of his conservative values and ideals! Yet the sheer stupidity of it all was pointed out and highlighted by liberals and hippies, people I thought looked, acted, and smelled strange. People who were all into their free love and sexual revolution. Freedom of a kind that looked pagan to me.
These things have been complicated from the start.
I remember as a youth, hardly older than the 19 dead kids in Uvalde, when the American Embassy in Tehran was overrun and the staff taken hostage. I remember the images on TV of Americans led around blindfolded like lambs to the slaughter and wondering where our power and might was to stop it. President Carter’s presidency would not survive the apparent impotence of that. And even as Reagan was being sworn in, had not even taken the mantle of power yet, the Iranians buckled because they knew this president was gonna open a can of whoopass!
I remember, as a youth, our leaders looked around the middle east and found Saddam Hussein in Iraq to be the mortal enemy of Iranians, and even though he was a thug, our nation began arming Iraq like a proxy war against Iran. The enemy of our enemy was our friend.
This was conservative. This was good. This was right and true! You couldn’t find nary a single American to call out the folly of this.
Of course, within two decades, we were fighting Iraq – twice.
Why is it I never hear anyone point out that the WMD conservatives unduly feared in Hussein’s hands were our own making of a nightmare? Why were we so ready, willing, and able to take WWIII to Kuwait but all these years later not to Ukraine? Why are we arming Ukraine after the lessons we should have learned from Iraq?
Hmmm… These things are complicated.
Well, I was watching. I was THINKING about these things. Doesn’t make everything I see and think right, true, or accurate, but I certainly started looking and thinking as a “conservative” – one with a bit of a self-critical eye. Those hippies of the 60s were not MY KIND, but they had brought a corrective lens to some important things, and I really hate to be stupid for the sake of being “right.”
Conservatives, when I was a young adult, championed “principles.” We were “thousand points of light” people. We appealed to biblical imagery like “a city set on a hill” even if misapplied. We would “stay the course” even when things seemed complicated, and we certainly tempered “FREEDOM” with “responsibility.” Liberals, on the other hand, rewarded bad behavior with “midnight basketball.” The wealth we generated, at least in theory, would “trickle down” and eventually everyone who behaved responsibly would enjoy some, and so in the meantime we needed to “deregulate.”
These kinds of things became baseline to my worldview, though I recognized they needed to be re-evaluated frequently and adjusted to ward off corruption. I saw that the hippies, though they were largely mistaken, needed to be heard from because like environmental parakeets, their perspective had the power of correction for misapplications of otherwise good, right, true paths forward.
I think the way I became conservative was because I was born into it. That’s sorta arbitrary, but it is true nonetheless. I was born into a family and a segment of society that honors God, tradition, old fashioned values. This isn’t to say that I am staunch about all these things. I am tempted by waywardness like anyone else, but this stuff is my baseline, and I value it.
But then two major forces in my life also come to bear on me and my views. One is the ever-growing inconsistency of everyone’s position(s), and the other is my Bible education where I got specialized training in God’s Word.
The inconsistencies of both conservatives and liberals, of both Republicans and Democrats, are so wild that I no longer see either side as right, true, or accurate, but rather selfish and power hungry. Everyone wants power for themselves, and they engage in all manner of tradeoffs (with the devil) to get it.
Hmmm… This has long been the complaint from both sides about “politicians” in general. They get into office promising headway into the power grab but wind up dealing with the devil so much you can hardly recognize the ideal anymore.
Just today, I heard the Supreme Court ruled against New York’s gun restrictions as unconstitutional, stripping that state of its long-held power to restrict concealed weapons on account of second amendment rights and the freedom it provides. The Supreme Court did this. That’s a conservative (at this point) federal government institution telling a state how to do its business.
Am I the only one that sees the irony there?
Yeah, my conservative friends normally champion the cause of state’s rights and of the autonomy of states to set their own agendas. Local government knows better than far away, high up, ivory tower overlords. Right?
Yeah, and what do you know but that is almost what (in substance anyway, because she sure isn’t using the same phraseology as conservatives) New York’s governor has to say about it. Why can’t her state and the people who live there decide the rules they are going to live by? (She sounds conservative now while the conservatives behave liberal!)
Wow! Which principles do you want to live by? You fickle people!
At the same time, in the wake of Uvalde, a handful of Republican senators suddenly want to find some kind of gun control, though they are desperate to do this in some way that is sensible without restricting second amendment rights. And well, yeah! In the wake of another shooting, a loooooong list of dead babies AGAIN, it sure looks to anyone who can rub two brain cells together like more of the same is not the right answer.
But again, in the news this morning, local news here in Lubbock where conservative types rule, I watch an interview with a gun shop owner who suddenly is advocating “gun safety” and “responsible gun ownership.”
Wow! You think???
Yeah. He wants us to not penalize “law abiding, responsible, gun owners” on the one hand (so far, more of the usual), but now he wants to educate the kids about guns so they grow up handling them responsibly and not fearing them needlessly.
Uh oh. Is he trying to indoctrinate the next generation here?
It sounds like it.
All these kids getting shot up in schools and church might make them afraid of guns, and so we need to get in front of THAT.
With “gun safety” and “responsible, gun ownership.” We need to teach guns to kids. (Hmmm… I thought “education” was always the go-to liberal approach.)
But here’s the kicker: The gun shop owner actually said, and I don’t think he noticed the words escaping his own lips, that we need to “keep guns out of the hands” of irresponsible, law-breaking types.
Really? A gun shop owner, a conservative, a guy who both politically and financially has a stake in flooding society with guns wants to keep guns out of the hands of someone?
Let me ask you this (Mr. Conservative): Does the second amendment say a gun owner should be “educated” and “responsible” in his gun ownership? Is THAT in the constitution?
My God! How stupid can you get with your staunch inconsistencies?
Go back to restricting voting rights! That’s constitutional too. The founding fathers didn’t intend women, blacks, or even vagrants owning no property to have the right to vote. They very inadvertently and mistakenly called “all men… equal.” Oprah Winfrey, constitutionally and traditionally speaking, should not have a vote! In fact, it was expanding the vote as we have done which let in so much encroachment on our own power.
Hmmm… (I think I just stumbled on to the real, real.)
And this brings me to that other force in my life, my Bible education. When I went to school to study Bible, there were all manner of impurities and outside influences creating filters for how my mind and my soul would absorb God’s will for the world or my life. But there was a strong independence from hometown, political agendas and ignorant family tradition too. Liberation theology from Central America or Feminist Scholars, Catholics, and Marxists all came to the table to talk about Jesus, and no longer was Jesus the domain of my conservative, kneejerk reactions to hippies.
I certainly did not swallow these other perspectives outright. I was a conservative, one believing in THE BIBLE. But listening to God in the echo chambers of other conversations provided a lot of correctives, not unlike hippies protesting Vietnam. Such protest doesn’t make all things hippie right or good, but like environmental parakeets, they signal something is wrong with the atmosphere at the least. They provide illumination at least in part.
I have come to see that God too is in this power struggle, but now I see far more clearly that the power is, was, and will always be his, not ours, that we wrongly wrangle and struggle to wrestle power from him to suit our own in-group and personal agendas. I see “the right to bear arms” as an outgrowth of idol worship, an idol to which we are all too willing to sacrifice our children.
A Constant in The Midst of Inconsistencies
At root, if you listen to conservatives or liberals, you find there is a constant, a consistency which never is violated: the self-will to power. IF there is one thing above all Donald Trump is good for, it’s illuminating that the one and only thing he is good at and smart about is promoting himself. He will gleefully destroy a nation in the process, as long as he can have power. There literally nothing else consistent about him.
(Except maybe his vanity. You don’t see any pictures of him with a wet head!)
I am watching the party I always viewed as my baseline throw out all its principles for this man. It’s no longer a matter of tradeoffs, but wholesale embrace of the devil! Oh, and the church is one of the main promoters of this crap!
Keeping Up with the Jonahs
And this is where I finally come around to Jonah.
I have taken something of a prophetic stance in this life, I speak for God the Word of God to his people. No one listens to me, but I speak it.
I keep preaching in various ways to give the glory and power to God and embrace humility and love especially for the least of his brothers. It gets me punished, not rewarded, but I keep saying it.
Jonah is one of the most profoundly hell-fire-and-brim-stone preachers of the whole Bible. He doesn’t want to be, but he is. And why does he not want to be? Because he hates the people to whom he is sent, and he knows God will be gracious with them. Jonah doesn’t want them saved. He preaches to a nation that oppresses his, a nation so lost and otherwise not blessed of God that he wants to see them punished rather than spared. And only after going into the bottom of the sea and the belly of the sea beast does he finally fulfill his mission most reluctantly. And his sermon is full of blistering contempt.
Yet it saves.
God, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.
His message from God is God’s message for wayward people who ironically are convicted by it and then saved.
All to Jonah’s chagrin.
And so Jonah sits back when it is all done, tortured by the sun, watching, probably fantasizing that God’s judgment and wrath will finally fall on these idiots.
And the thing is… I feel it too.
I FEEL IT.
My fellow Americans, especially you in “the church,” listen to me. Your idolatry should embarrass you, but it doesn’t. You are proud of it instead. Oh how sick can you be???
I am filled with contempt for you. I am all but rooting for the fire to burn you up.
But, not quite.
I am sad too.
I love my country, and I love God’s people. I love the lost. I do. I DO. I DO!!!
But I am fed up too.
I can’t keep up with the Jonahs.