Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A fan from afar...

Anne Lamott was on a PBS special the other night, and while I've never read Traveling Mercies or her new book Plan B, they are now high on my list. What I liked about Anne was her "realness," -- that she doesn't fit into nice, neat evangelical catagories. She calls herself a "left-wing, born-again Christian with a bad attitude." She also said, in the PBS report, about the current Bush administration: "My faith has been so challenged because I feel such a deep hatred and sense of betrayal by the Bush administration, and yet Jesus said about four things that are absolutely the core of Christianty and one of them is that you don't get to hate anybody." I can't wait to start reading...


Anonymous said...

ALL Bush haters are absolute morons. Christians who hate Bush need to check themselves...

It's one thing to disagree with a president, but it's another altogether to just say they are bad without even being active in studying politics. I hear a lot from left-wing Christians who slam the Bush Administration, but almost none of them are active in political study.

In my mind, it's hard to think any Christian could truly be a left-winger. That is, from a moral standpoint...

ckd said...

1st off...we're not going to call people names on this blog. I think the point of Anne's comment was that she doesn't allow herself to hate because it's not consistent with Christianity, even though she vehemenetly disagrees with policies, positions, etc.

So my question is, after reading this anonymous post (such courage!) is: what's more hateful, to talk honestly about one's frustration, or to lump a whole bunch of people together and call them morons?

I believe it's the later.

Chris said...

Woah....I can feel the tension...

Here's my opinion for what it's worth...

I agree with anon not understanding how a "left-winger" can be a Christian from a moral standpoint. (abortion, gay marriage, etc...)

A person can be liberal for other reasons, (financial, education, etc...)

Personally, I feel like a lot of so-called democrats are democrats blindly, but there are some who aren't. And those who aren't don't usually consider themselves as Christians, at least that's the majority that I know.

So anon, maybe just keep it to yourself or next time take it to the individual. This wasn't approached very well.

A.J. said...

Hmm, I live in Seattle and my wife is a proud liberal, yet I actually voted for Bush (don't tell anywhere out here!). And as a conservative...correction...a moderate conservative who is always out of his element, I have to admit, we kinda are the morons alot. Republican voters are kinda notorious for not thinking. Alot of democrat voters thing before they vote...they might be wrong, but hey, I'll give em some points for effort. I don't think all Bush Haters are absolute morons, but I'm sure they are plenty of partial morons out there.

And hey, if you just had a right-wing, and no left-wing, you'd never be able to fly.

Chris said...

I just realized I made it sound like you cannot be a Christian and a democrat. I don't believe that. Most Christian democrats aren't for abortion and gay marriage but are for some of the other things that democrats stand for.

I needed to make that clear.

Danny Orrick said...

Charlie you will enjoy Traveling Mercies - she pushes the envelope and I wasn't comfortable with all she said - but its good to read someone who would call themselves left-wing and Christian as opposed to just listening to evangelical straw-man arguments.

Sadly I'm not surprised by the first post you received. It seems like many people today feel safer spewing venom then opening themselves up to any sort of dialogue. It enables them to define morality via the standard of their choosing without having to engage the possibility that someone with a differing opinion could have something valid to say.

For instance it would seem like a worthwhile conversation to discuss why most conservative evangelicals make abortion and homosexuality issues 1 and 2 on the morality checklist. Although both are clearly sin what has pushed these two the top of the list when issues such as poverty get so much more attention in scripture?

ckd said...


I've lost your phone number & I miss talking to you!

Call me!

Or email me your ##!

Chris said...


Abortion and homosexuality are just that: The top two on the morality checklist. Poverty is not immorality, is it?

Certainly Scripture puts great emphasis on the fact that I MUST help my neighbor in cases of financial need, but nowhere does It call poverty a moral issue.

Poverty is an issue that some democrats have done well with, and some have done poorly. Likewise, some republicans have done well with this issue, and some poor.

Danny Orrick said...

Fair question - let me clarify. I would agree that the existence of poverty in and of itself is not immoral and that abortion and homosexuality are immoral. But I would argue that how we respond to those in poverty is definitely a moral issue. That is why througout scripture those who do not look out for the poor are chastised. They are not living out a fundamental priciple of right and wrong as defined by God.

I would agree that both Republicans and Democrats attempt to address the issues of poverty with varying degrees of success. Arguably how success or failure is seen in adressing poverty is based on how you think the problem ought to be approached - more education, more gov't assistance, job creation etc.

My primary point is that as Christians where a politican or any other person stands on those two issues has become the beginning and end of most discussions. Yes these are vital issues but I fear that when these seem to become the only issues of true importance we as Christians either forget about or justify away our resposiblity to a host of other issues that demand our attention.

ckd said...

Great discussion guys!

Danny, I think you're dead on, and I think the reason why, is because it's easier for Christians to point out the sinners "over there" and to ignore our own responsibilities to live out the gospel.

I heard Bono, at the Leadership Summit, say that some African countries pay more against debts that they owe to developing countries than the developing countries extend. This is immoral, the Bible calls it usury I believe, and Christians should be as outraged (or maybe more so) as many in the Christian community are about gay marriage.

And yet sadly, there are few who are crying out for justice!

Great thoughts!!

by the way Danny...my email address of this blog is not working...email me at charlesdean2@gmail.com

Chris said...


How do we define poverty? I know that the city I live in is considered in it's majority "poverty" according to the most recent census. But when I look around all I see is big houses, and fancy cars.

Because of the way our economy works everyone is trying to get a piece of the pie. I am, you are, and everyone is. My feeling is that I don't feel badly for the "poor" person who has chosen their occupation (social work, clergy, etc) because they have every ability to earn great amounts of money just like all the other people (I am soon to be in full-time ministry by the way, so I'll soon know what it's like to be poor)

I do, however, feel we as Christians need to do everything we can for those who are not capable of "earning a piece of the pie". (Handicapped, disabled, elderly, veterans, etc...)


Beth B. said...

I agreed pretty much with everything you had said until that last statement.
"I do, however, feel we as Christians need to do everything we can for those who are not capable of "earning a piece of the pie". (Handicapped, disabled, elderly, veterans, etc...)"
Why would a handicapped, disabled, elderly person or even a veteran not be able to "earn a piece of the pie"?
I have a cousin who in his 3rd year of undergrad had a bad car accident and is in wheelchair; paralyzed from the waist down. Now, he is a lawyer, husband and father of 2. Does he need my or anyone else's help here on earth to be a viable citizen? I think not.
There is a high school student in our church that has a disease that is consuming her body and after this last round of surgeries she will always either be in a wheelchair or with a walker. She continues to go to school, come to pool parties, to on trips. Does she need someone to pacify her? Nope.
There are elderly people in this very community that volunteer 40+ hours a week, along with help take care of thier grandkids and be active in thier church. Do they need a handout because of thier age? No, they are more active then some people i know my age!
I have to admit the one that baffles me is the veterans. My dad went and faught in Vietnam, came back to a very hostile country and continued to serve it as a police officer for 33 years. In retirement he continues to serve this community as a volunteer deputy captain.
Where these specific groups of people need our help is in the fact that we treat them equal and not look at them as lower or differnt than us. Handicapped and disabled people that give up and let thier lives pass them by, usually do so because those around them don't believe in them enough to encourage them to adapt to thier new circumstances and just do everything for them. There are elderly out there that do not have enough money and do need help. There is also another group that are well fed and taken care of in assisted living or a nursing home. A good portion of them have been abandoned by thier families. Where do they need our help? Donate a "dollar more" on your cilco bill, take an elderly person in your neighborhood a meal, sit and talk with an elderly person you see alone in a resturaunt. Go to these places and volunteer, listen to them talk. They are an amazing group of people that our society rights off because of thier age. Finally the veterans and active servicemen and women. They don't need our sympathy, they need our support. When you see a veteran or serviceperson, thank them. Thank them for all the freedoms we take for granted in this country that they watched friends die for.
Now Chris I know you meant well by your comment it just hit a nerve. I know you are not one of those people that looks down at others for being different. I just felt it needed to be said. Actually it is something I feel very passionate about recently.
I think that sometimes we as Americans get so caught up in the politics of the nation and miss what makes our nation great. It's people and what we are capable of.

Chris said...


I need to clarify, I apparently wasn't clear...

When I said:

"I do, however, feel we as Christians need to do everything we can for those who are not capable of "earning a piece of the pie". (Handicapped, disabled, elderly, veterans, etc...)"

what I meant was people who truly are not capable of taking care of themselves. My grandfather fought in two wars, I have a friend who is permanently using a walker, etc...

I am talking about those who absolutely cannot live without some assistance. Sorry I wasn't clear, friend!

Beth B said...

I appreciate the clarification. Like i said i don't think you are one of those people that treats other like that. I just felt it needed to be said.
No Worries, friend!

FreeBazyn said...

Chris, I'm not exactly sure what you meant by your first paragraph about the definition of poverty and only seeing big houses and nice cars, but I think I got ya that many of us probably don't know what real poverty is...especially those of us who only live amongst nice cars and big houses and don't look beyond that. But your implication that real poverty doesn't exist in your community or region, I think that assumption is made out of ignorance (not "Hey, Chris, you're stupid" but "Hey Chris, you just lack knowledge and experience on this.") Of course, there are various levels of poverty and we can be impoverished of many things (money, peace, spirit). But I challenge you to go downtown Peoria to see the people sleeping on the street or to go down to the housing projects and not see that fit into whatever your definition of poverty is.

I found it humorous that you included clergy and social workers in your category of "poor" people. Sure they don't make great sums of money, but what about people who are scraping by on minimum wage jobs, or the immigrants who are taken advantage of and not even give that, people without a college education. Most likely, they don't "CHOOSE" their low income out of altruism. They don't have the means to get a college education, and they certainly do not have the same advantages and opportunities that you have to "get a slice of the pie".

And your attitude that everybody should just try to get their own piece of the pie and worry only about him/herself simply because that is the way our economy works doesn't necessarily reflect a "moral" standpoint. Is there anything in Jesus' life that seemed like he was just trying to get what he could get for himself? Thank God, He shows us and tells us repeatedly what it means to be selfless and to bring Heaven to people instead of perpetuating the Hell many of them live in.

How can our response to that be to buy nice cars, live in nice houses, get ours and ignore the people in need?

Brandon said...

Wow... this is an amazing discussion...

I have to say that I think Politics is hard for the true Christ follower... mostly because Jesus did not try to reform the political structure in order to make a difference... he used his life to do so... he made the difference in life and in death.

I am sad that so many Christians, including me far too often, sit under the warm blanket of suburban affluence and forget about the plight of most of the world.... the facts are startling... of the 6 billion on the planet... nearly 1 out of three live on less than $2 a day...

Why do we deserve so much? Why should a country of 250 million consume 40% of the worlds resources....

Why do we as Christians have nothing to say about this?

Yes abortion is wrong... but are we not all contributing to abortion when we do nothing to right the systemic injustice and poverty that create a rich environment for abortions?

I think that we need to be stirred to action... like mother teresa... what if the Christian 20 somethings of the world dedicated their lives to making earth more like heaven to the 2 billion who live in poverty? To the systemic systems of broken familes... to a materialistically intoxicated affluent america that desperately needs something more real that money...

I think it would be awesome.

Check out Ron Sider's book, "Rich Christians in an age of Hunger" if you get a chance... or Shane Claiborne's Irresistable revolution...

Chris said...

This has been humbling for me. I'm not all the way there yet, but I understand I've been fighting a losing battle. I think I have been a bit mis-understood in that the things I have really wanted to express I haven't conveyed clearly. I in fact have said things that I don't think I mean.

Nonetheless, Charlie has been chewing on me all day (in a good way), deservedly so. Here is what I know...

Luke 10:25-35

25One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: "Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?"
26Jesus replied, "What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?"

27The man answered, " `You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, `Love your neighbor as yourself.' "[a]

28"Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you will live!"

29The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

Story of the Good Samaritan
30Jesus replied with an illustration: "A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31"By chance a Jewish priest came along; but when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32A Temple assistant[b] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33"Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt deep pity. 34Kneeling beside him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35The next day he handed the innkeeper two pieces of silver[c] and told him to take care of the man. `If his bill runs higher than that,' he said, `I'll pay the difference the next time I am here.'

As a Christian it is my job to help where there are needy. My examples of poverty were inaccurate, and I was neglecting the truly poverty stricken people that exist in my own backyard, and all over the world. Some day I will author a blog post about what I really meant to be saying, but in the mean time, know that I understand that it is my duty to love Jesus and to love others. Period. The unfortunate part is that it is really difficult to live this way.

Still working towards being Christlike,

swishthedish said...

FreeBazyn - I've read Chris's comment on poverty, and re-read it, and then read it again. Nowhere in that short post did he imply that real poverty doesn't exist in our community. He was simply talking about "the 'poor' person who has chosen their occupation"(knowing full well they wouldn't make much money). Not once did you ask him "Hey Chris, am I understanding you right on this?" You came to your own incorrect conclusion and then argued vehemently against it. You guys were talking about two different things altogether.

FreeBazyn said...

Actually, I did start my entire comment with the preface that I wasn't sure what he meant, so in a way I did indeed stop to say, "Chris, am I understanding you on this?"

And secondly, he said, "But when I look around all I see is big houses, and fancy cars." And I'm just saying, he isn't looking far enough.

FreeBazyn said...

But I do apologize if I came down too harsh and I'll readily admit that I could have been completely wrong in my understanding of Chris' comment and my assumptions.

JGanschow said...

I think this has been a great discussion and it's obvious that all posters have a definite stance and and moral position on the subject matter. Only a heartless individual would say that those blessed with afluence should keep their wealth to themselves and not share it with those in need. But all to often that is what happens. In Rob Bell's most recent dvd, he makes that point that we in the U.S. are rich. It doesn't matter if you drive a Ferrari or a Pinto, live in a mansion or a 700 sq. foot apartment. You are rich in the eyes of the world. It doesn't matter if you label yourself a republican, a democrat, a hippie, or a yuppie, the responsibility falls on everyone's shoulders to lessen our neighbors' load. When we all learn to love each other and reflect the spirit of God, eventually those other moral issues that strike a chord will begin to subside. I know it's hard to put differences aside, especially when there are extreme liberals and conservatives, but we are ALL living in the same world and ALL must give a little to make it better. peace out

Eric T. said...

wow... i haven't read through all this yet, but i'm just feeling left out and would like to say (it may have already been said...)

i was not anonymous.