“In an era in which war and terrorism – at home and abroad – are often based on racial, religious and ethnic differences, rediscovering the wisdom of love and compassion may help us increase our survival at a time when an increasingly divided country and world so badly need it. ” – Dean Ornish
Honestly, I know nothing about Ornish but I really loved this quote. I loved this quote especially in a week where my TV and radio are filled with political ads for the contentious political season Virginia finds itself in. For those of us who are living and leading in this contentious age, here are some resources to help…and a bonus link for Stranger Things fans.
No, American Christians Aren’t Under ‘Attack’
To put things back into perspective, it’s important for us to look to both history and global events and continue to tell the stories of our brothers and sisters who actually are facing daily persecution and even intentionally putting their lives in danger for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We can look back to the earliest of martyrs such as Bartholomew, who was flayed alive and then beheaded (and it’s worth noting that he is rumored to have sung hymns the entire time, hence the beheading), or Peter, crucified upside down.
Why Jesus’ Good Samaritan Can Change the World
Jesus is essentially saying, “Look, I am walking this same road. And I am telling you that the way of God is not the way of separation and confrontation with your enemies. That is not the way to bring peace. If you yourself don’t find a way to show mercy and compassion to people that you don’t like, it’s likely that you yourself will experience more violence. The community will not become more peaceful if you, the people of God, don’t extend God’s love. And ultimately, you may find yourself on the side of the road, left for dead, if you can’t recognize the hated Samaritan as your neighbor.”
Loving your neighbor, especially those you don’t like, has the power to radically change the world.
No, It’s Not You. This is Crazy.
I know you feel something breaking inside lately; an invisible fracture that only you’re fully aware of.
I know the way you walk away from conversations with people you once relied on for wisdom and clarity and compassion, doubting your own sanity because you no longer recognize those things in them.
I know the way you feel internally estranged from the friends, coworkers, family members, and neighbors you used to find affinity with—and you wonder if you’re losing your mind.
I understand how you stare at the perpetual parade of horrible scrolling past you, from the second you wake up prematurely in the early morning until the stretched out nighttime moments you try unsuccessfully to fall asleep—and how you question the grip you have on reality.
What Congregations are More Political?
You might think white conservative Protestants are more political than black or mainline Protestants or Catholics. You’d be wrong.
Just as the Bush Administration’s Faith-Based Initiative called attention to congregations’ social service activities, the 1980s rise of the Religious Right called attention to congregations’ political activities. The organized Religious Right is not what it used to be, but concerns and debates about the appropriate limits of congregations’ political involvement emerge every election season. Clarity about some basic facts might inform these debates.
The Gospel According to Stranger Things
The show’s protagonist is a girl named Eleven. She is pretty clearly a Christ figure (Her nickname, El, even means “God” in Hebrew). She has a mysterious birth story and her true father is never mentioned, even though her mother does make an appearance. She possesses seemingly miraculous telekinetic powers. While in captivity, government officials “tempt” her to use her powers to kill a cat, which she refuses to do, paralleling Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11).
The world of Stranger Things resembles the Christian understanding of our world. It has two interconnected dimensions: The first is the idyllic world of the 1980’s, filled with nostalgia that almost immediately causes viewers long for a simpler time. The second is the Upside Down. It’s described as a world of death. The air is toxic, and it is filled with predatory monsters (or, at least one) who feed on flesh. It even acts as a sort of prison for Will, a kid brought to the Upside Down by the monster.