Flickr photo by M.Burhama

8 Questions to Debate or Deflate Hate

By Eric Blauer

We live in a time when every moment, of every tragedy, trauma or terror is presented to us in audio, video and digital formats. The horror and hurt of humanity destabilizes us like a never ending series of cultural earthquakes. Then we are barreled over by the tsunami sneaker waves of dialogue and debate that catch us, willing or unwilling, in a tumult of suffocating divisiveness. The undertow of fit, fuss and fume has drowned the hope, faith and friendship of countless pilgrims trying to navigate these chaotic, cultural conversations.

These conditions are revealing the thin truth of people’s commitments to civility, diversity and hospitality in a country that has championed freedom of thought, speech and practice or non-practice of religion.

“In America, we pride ourselves on being a pluralist society. But true pluralism is every rational worldview getting a voice in the marketplace. True pluralism is people living close to others who share different views. But in America, we call each other names, retreat to our own camps where everyone thinks and talks as we do, and that’s not pluralism. That’s tribalism—and you lose the real definition of love when you live in that kind of society,” Jefferson Bethke, Jesus > Religion

The cultural convergence of hate, horror and heritage has me sparring with the hard left and the hard right these days. Below are eight questions I’ve been pondering in my ongoing dialogue and debate.

  1. Would or Will…leaders of Evangelical churches challenge, reject and resist the hard right political, religious and social rhetoric that fosters contempt and disdain and/or ferments idiological, theological or sociological dehumanization?
  2. Would or Will…leaders of progressive churches defend, give platform to or support and praise conservative fundamentalists who decry hate and intolerance if one of their own was involved in a massacre like the one at the gay bar in Orlando?
  3. Can we have an open discussion about the reality of the majority positions of groups like Evangleicalism, Mormonism, Judaism and Islam on the issue of homosexuality?
  4. Can we address the leap traversed in ideological and theological distance between Evangelicals and Trump in this election and Evangelicals and Romney in the last?
  5. While discussing and debating banning semi-automatic rifles because of their use in mass killings, why aren’t we discussing banning alcohol because of the scourge of alcohol related deaths, abuse and violence?
  6. The freedom to debate and protest, write or say what you believe, feel or think is an American value the is foundational to an open and tolerant culture. Killing others who ignore, disagree, disdain or demonize our views is not. How did these two become equal in our cultural conversation?
  7. Can the Hard Right spend as much time talking and preaching against the sins against the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control Galatians 5:19-23) as they do against the sins of the flesh?
  8. Can the Hard Left spend as much time talking and preaching against the sins of the flesh (sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties Galatians 5:19-23) as they do about sins against the spirit?

Pluralism is a civil society’s lifeguard on the shores of history and I am of the opinion that right now the sirens and whistles are screaming on the beaches of our interactions. Unless we change or adjust our posture, we are going to drown in a sea of self-inflicted inter-personal and ideological bigotry.

“Examine your heart often to see if it is such toward your neighbor as you would like his to be toward you were you in his place. This is the touchstone of true reason,” Francis de Sales


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Riff Mattre

Interesting. Your opening and closing cautionary lines are clear, concise, brilliant. Numbers 1, 2, 7, 8, are straight-forward, logical, truly fair and balanced. 3, 4, 5, 6 are a tangled mess. This is actually very revealing to the situation we ALL find ourselves in today as Americans. You have drawn measured attention to what I passionately believe we should ALL be discussing. Instead, we bicker over tragedy. Before the woulds, wills, and cans can be answered, however, we must ask of ourselves what will it take to calm our composure in each others’ presence that we might justly consider our differences without secumbing to the violent motivations of our shared visceral fears? Thanks, Eric.

Eric Blauer

Thanks for your thoughts Riff, I appreciate how you push and pull in your comments without bludgeoning me.

I try to remember and remind, that Jesus picked Judas as a disciple. Even though he knew exactly who he was and what he would do.
“But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.” -John 2:24-25

If Jesus, the Truth, could chose a “devil” as a disciple, than I should be able to walk with and even love those who I disagree with or who intend to betray me.

“Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” -John 6:70

We all fall short of this at times, and that’s no endorsement for enduring or submitting to violence or abuse, but it should temper our quickness to reject others we disagree with or live or worship differently than us. It should also poke at our tendencies to surround ourselves with only fans and friends who ensure us of loyalty.

For me Jesus’s Spirit within me is the fear quencher and his word informs, guides and rebukes me. At times this is the inner word, the written word and the word in flesh that comes to me in others, particularly the poor and the marginalized.

Riff Mattre

Thanks, Eric. When you speak of Chist’s choices I am deeply moved. I’ve found no greater insight throughout my entire life than when I imagine myself walking in the shoes of our brother, Jesus. Have you heard Mel’s making a sequel to The Passion? This guy’s had it really rough in his own walk and I hope with everything in me his directorial hand has found the focus within himself to paint an image of Christ through film that reaches many hearts.

Jan Shannon

Eric, I so appreciate your opinion this morning. I agree, we need to talk about drinking, and other sins of the flesh. We need to talk about holiness. And we need to talk about love for our neighbor.

Eric Blauer

Thanks for reading and commenting Jan. I think another way of saying this, is admitting we need each other. Progressives and Conservatives…need each other. I know that’s unpalatable for most but the longer I wrestle, fit, fuss and fume…I see it’s true.

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