Sunday, March 23, 2008

Thoughts at Easter 2008

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16

I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.

- Voltaire

Happy Easter. This holy day will always carry some additional meaning for me, no matter what date it falls on.

It's been an interesting week for those in search of meaning, redemption, and forgiveness.

I'm trying to collect my thoughts about the whole Obama's Pastor non-controversy, followed by the candidate's very eloquent speech in response to the near-rabid frenzy that the cable news channels worked themselves into. It was quite refreshing to see Chris Wallace criticize his colleagues at "Fox & Friends" (as if we need enemies with these shrill people in the morning) over this and other comments. In the interest of being "fair and balanced", I also watched Keith Olbermann commit what is normally a very interesting hour to the "breaking story", repeated ad nauseum, about the misuse of Sen. Obama's passport information.

As with so many other presidential campaigns, histrionics and minutiae over less-than-meaningful rhetoric has taken priority over a meaningful discussion of the issues at hand, and what the candidates plan to do to offer leadership, not solutions, in this regard.

As it happens with some things, the most meaningful coverage of this issue came from the local media. Mike Wiggins' story in the March 18 Daily Sentinel offered insight not only into the concepts of faith and forgiveness, but also of the approach of the local African-American community to the situation. Pastor Harry Butler of the Handy Chapel put it very well when he said:
“You can’t fault a man for what another person says,” said Butler, a member of the School District 51 Board of Education. He likened the situation to a teacher using controversial words in imparting a lesson to students. “You can’t connect that pupil to what that teacher said. Sometimes (students) they grab ahold of the good and they leave alone the bad.”
Senator Obama also brought forth one of many excellent points in his speech last Tuesday:
"The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow."
The bottom line for me with all this is much ado about nothing. The indignation that arises from the conservative side of mass media is rooted in political theories for which none have the proof until the votes have been counted.

Conservatives are attacking Obama now because they fear him more in a general election against McCain. They tolerate McCain because they believe they have some measure of control over him, not because they embrace him as a true believer.

The same goes for those within the Democratic party who continue to engage in short-term divisive rhetoric at the expense of their seeming long-term goal, that being control of the White House and Congress in January 2009.

I believe that there are many, many political moderates who will not vote for Hillary under any circumstances.

It's Easter, right? We should be focusing on Peace, Forgiveness, and the love of Christ renewed with his resurrection.

In a supposedly Christian nation, these concepts are a hard sell in the arena of politics and government. The concept of forgiveness and understanding is something not really existent in our justice system, and that's not to say that it should be.

There are, however, cases before the local judiciary where a measure of consideration for the circumstances of the accused could have resulted in more compassionate and/or efficient handling. The cases of Ralph Ridenour, Christy Buescher and others could be examples of this.

The actions of Bishop Arthur Tafoya of the Catholic Diocese of Pueblo (which includes Grand Junction), in response to senselessness and insensitivity on the part of some who should know better, are a notable example of this.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Patrick Strawmatt and Logan Lage deserved to have the book thrown at them. Questionable actions by judges may have helped to create the circumstances of one crime, and in the latest instance has fomented a significant public outcry, and may make Mesa County and Colorado the focal point of yet another legislative and media firestorm over when a fetus becomes a human being.

To be fair, being a judge or a prosecutor is an extremely difficult job, one that I could probably not do even if I was a lawyer. Monday's Sentinel carries the story of a 15-year-old boy currently housed in the Mesa County Jail. A difficult call for our chief prosecutor, but as citizens who elect him and the judges who oversee our court system we need to remain informed about the job they are doing, and I mean informed, not titillated, sensationalized, or prejudiced.

On a concluding note, a reader left an excellent comment about my post of March 20 about the homeless in Whitman Park. Jim Davis (unknown if the same of radio and 'lederhosen' fame) very accurately made mention of the number of transients in our area that are mentally ill, and in need of treatment services that have been difficult to provide with any level of consistency.
Thanks again for your comments and insight, Jim.

I'll try to end as positively as I can on what was a beautiful Easter day. I attended a wonderful service at the Vineyard that began with a message of the Church's mission and core beliefs that was very inspiring and humbling all at once.

That's kind of what church is supposed to do, right? I've uploaded this so as to try and spread that good news. Enjoy:

Have a blessed week ahead.

1 comment:

Tom Balbier said...

John, Good post. Most informative.
Tom Balbier, on the private end of the Roan.