By Charles Redfern
I love the love among the vast majority and I loathe the loathing in that miniscule minority. It’s time for the lovers to resist their own reluctance and denounce the loathers, because the loathing is shrouding the loving.
Compassion and love for Japan rolls from coast to coast and border to border – and the hearts of evangelical Christians beat as hard as any. We feel deeply and sob easily despite our reputations. We even long to be there: Let me find that last survivor beneath a battered shingle. I’ll dole cups of water. I’ll cover someone with a blanket. I’ll console the grieved – and nuts to the radiation. Get me out of my cozy living room and into those northern mountains. I want a plane ticket to Tokyo!
But there are those mouths to feed and bills to pay – and the flight will max-out our credit card. So we do the next best thing. We give money, which is perfectly respectable and commendable. Laura Page offers several choices on her site, Literary Legs. Go there and follow her links. The American Baptist Churches, USA, (one of my two denominations) provides avenues here – and notice you can still help disaster victims in China, Pakistan, Chile, and Haiti. My other denomination, the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (with “conservative” referring to a theological, not political, stance), is recommending an organization called World Relief. Donate at this site.
But then there are those loathers and cynics, the ones with frozen psyches. Gilbert Gottfried sent tasteless tweets and Aflac dropped him. Other shock comics have rallied to his cause, but I suggest they remember their forbears, before the “shock” days: Jack Benny never would have joked about tsunamis and earthquakes, nor would George Burns or Carol Burnett or Johnny Carson. Most agree with comedienne Paula Poundstone, who told National Public Radio she has “nothing to say about Japan that’s funny.”
Thank you, Paula. Tastes survives and thrives.
And then there’s Glenn Beck, the snarling darling of some of my friends on the religious right. He speculated the earthquake could be “a message from God” and chortled while saying it. Imagine Japanese Americans turning on their radios amid their worry about far-flung relatives. They hear Beck: no grace; no compassion; no sense of mourning. I wish my friends would listen to his broadcast and hear his vague description of God. To say the least, Beck proves, once more, that his faith is not even close to Biblical Christianity.
Again, most evangelicals I know are deeply loving people. Some sympathize with Beck’s political tilt but are horrified by his paranoia and cynicism. The problem: many outside the fold think he’s one of us. He’s not. Not even close – and it’s time we make that clear. It’s time for the lovers to call upon the loathers to love. It’s time we show that love has no tolerance for cynicism and loathing even in our justified calls for a deeper spirituality and a higher morality. It is time we show our unity with people of goodwill as we give through our denominations and other agencies. It is time we pray for Glenn Beck so he will see the error of his own cynical ways, repent, and come to a fuller and richer faith. And it’s time evangelical leaders recognize Beck’s damage and express, in no uncertain terms, that he is not our spokesman.
Many loving people are loving. A few loathers are loathing – but they’re the ones hogging the microphones. It’s time for that stop.