Americans, conservatives and shouting about God

From the Telegraph

Al Megrahi. From the Telegraph

Americans hate me.

well, not all Americans. But some of them, I think. The good people at Associated Baptist Press don’t hate me (though neither they nor their publishers necessarily share my views or the views quoted in my columns etc etc…), but some of their readers probably have a healthy distrust of my views.

In a week when we’ve heard about the resurfacing of a woman abducted and abused for many years by the worst kind of psychopaths, it’s a tough time to plead for mercy as I did in my Lockerbie column below. But I stand by what I said. If a man has served several decades in prison, he has not ‘escaped justice’. Just because mercy comes as a result of a flawed process, that does not make it any less valuable to its recipient. And a terminally ill, internationally infamous man does not pose a threat in any significant sense.

There were probably many good reasons to stone the woman caught in adultery, according not only to the social norms of the day, but the laws of God as understood in those days. But there were better reasons not to. I just think we Christians need to be careful of inadvertently becoming part of the mob baying for blood. Even if we feel right.

This is not, as some might think, the exclusive province of the Left or Right, however much our personal politics would have us believe that. Well-meaning leftists may call for death to bankers or arms-dealers as much as right-wingers might demand ‘the chair’ for terror suspects.

Jesus confounds both. He annoys what we might call the ‘Right’  (people who place a high premium on ‘doing things right’, on decency, on rules, on people making their own, self-reliant way and the strong being in charge for a reason) by being lax about the Sabbath, being soft on crime and ostensibly opposing ‘family values’.  Then, he goes to the house of a proper collaborator with the Romans, someone who was so deep in bed with an oppressive occupying force that any liberal worth their salt would have to freak out and call Amnesty International, just to get their bearings. He heals the child of an occupying soldier, thereby alienating anyone from the ‘Left’ (we who are not afraid or ashamed of weakness; we who are willing to cede power to an authority that does good, we that at the same time think personal moral freedom is sacred and who really don’t trust people who carry weapons or invade countries). He refuses to take sides along the lines we have drawn.

This, of course, does not mean that certain actions or opinions are neither right nor wrong. It just means deominsing ‘the other side’ is not a good enough reason to call for blood.



I like the story of Elijah waiting for God to pass by, as it was told to me in church recently. Elijah, the great prophet of God is terrified, because people are trying to kill him. God promises to appear to him and the result is terrifying. A terrible, storming wind, a fire, an earth-quake all take place and God is in none of them. Then God talks in a whisper, as if saying to the fire and brimstone prophet: you communicate me in such violent, aggressive ways, and to be sure I have that power and that authority. But this is where I am: in the gentle words, in the quiet authority.

(Of course, what follows is quite a lot of killing of Elijah’s enemies, which it would be too cozy to ignore, but that does not mean we get to decide when that’s okay.)

Point is: we should all stop shouting, okay? And by ‘we’ I guess I probably mean ‘me’. Nice.

Here’s a cute video that this post reminded me of. It features one of my favourite Americans and one of my favourite Brits:


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