Welcome to my new time slot! I am grateful to Chaplain Mike as it is much easier for me to write on Sunday night for a post on Monday. It gives me time to ruminate about my post throughout the weekend and allows me to better divide my work and personal life (Internet Monk falls into the personal category). One caveat: Chaplain Mike almost never sees what I write before the rest of you do. Sometimes I will give him a one or two sentence outline of where I think I might be headed. So when I write what I write below, it is my own thoughts, and I don’t pretend to speak on behalf of Internet Monk as a whole.
Today I want to welcome you inside my head as you follow my synapses down a stream of consciousness. I invite you to follow along with might be better described as a whirlwind, rather than a flow, of ideas. Perhaps it will generate thoughts of your own in similar or dissimilar directions. You are are encouraged to share them in the comments below.
Many are you are familiar with Godwin’s law:
“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”. That is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds, the point at which effectively the discussion or thread often ends.
We have experienced something similar at Internet Monk. Substitute “Trump” for “Hitler” and you see a similar scenario occurring. The comments descend into a vortex of nastiness, and for all intents and purposes the conversation ends.
[Oops, wayward synapse firing:
Our local aquarium has a special deal to those who are camping, or come dressed as an ocean mammal. Yes, for all in tents and porpoises it’s free!
Focus, Mike, focus. Okay, back on track again. ]
Read back through some of the posts. You will see that it is true. When Trump is invoked, the animosity increases, and the discussion ends.
Radagast had commented the following on Wednesday, and we can thank/blame him for initiating my particular thought process:
I am sure all folks here have great hearts, but the political bashing at a time when we should be coming together is too much for me right now. I am watching folks on my street from both sides of the political spectrum come together during this time. I am not seeing this here.
It got me thinking about how both sides of the political spectrum have come together in my own local situation up here in Canada. Both Conservative Provincial leaders and Liberal Federal leaders are receiving praise from the most unlikely sources.
While my feelings have not risen to a state of unabashed fandom, the burbling of a begrudging acknowledgement cannot be denied. I am going to say it, plainly and simply: Ontario Premier Doug Ford is doing an admirable job of shepherding the province, all of us, through this crisis. – Marie Henein (The Globe and Mail)
The prime minister appears in public every day, alone, outside his residence. He speaks sensibly, with authority, without hyperbole. This has been his finest hour.
Canadians trust him. They may not have voted for him – only about one-third did – but that doesn’t matter now. Nor do we question the competence of his ministers who are the other faces of the crisis – Chrystia Freeland, Marc Garneau, Patty Hajdu, Bill Blair. All are calm, competent and professional. This is what we want.
The provincial premiers, most of whom are not Liberals, have lost their congenital instinct to attack Ottawa. Doug Ford, no admirer of Justin Trudeau, now praises his leadership. – Andrew Cohen (The Ottawa Citizen)
I must confess that I did not vote for Ford, and I did not vote for Trudeau. In fact, a large part of me wants to shout out “Here is a long list of how they have failed their constituents both before and during this crisis!”
Then it hit me.
This is not how Jesus responded.
If we want to help each others achieve a Jesus Shaped Spirituality at a time like this (hence the headline), as followers of Jesus we need to respond in ways similar to how he responded.
Jesus did not come as a conquering Messiah, he came like a lamb to be sacrificed.
Jesus refused political power. (Temptation of Christ)
Jesus refused to be drawn into political debates. (Whose coin is this?)
Jesus welcomed those who were in bed with their Roman overlords (Zaccheus the Tax collector)
His criticism of the Pharisees and Chief Priests was not because because of their political connections, because of their hypocrisy.
In the Lord’s prayer, the call if for God to forgive us as we have forgiven others. (Not bless us and smite them)
In the Sermon on the mount his blessings are not on those who have power, but on those who don’t:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
An eye for an eye… becomes turn the other cheek.
“If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”
He turned prejudices upside down in the story of the Good Samaritan, and calls us to not only love our neighbours, but love our enemies as well. [Wayward synapse firing – despite what this skit portrays. Other wayward synapse. I am always going to spell neighbour with a “u”]
So here is where my thoughts concluded…
Loving our neighbour can be done regarded of who is in power. I am seeing more expresses of love throughout this pandemic than I have seen in a long time. I have seen more friendliness from strangers that I have in a long time. [Wayward synapse – though it seemed strange to be wishing people a Happy Easter today in such stark times. ]
We can welcome the refugee among us regardless of the policies of those in power.
We are not constrained in our ability to feed the hungry and heal the sick.
We can offer acts of mercy, and forgive those who sin against us.
We can be lights in dark times. Our actions speak louder than words.
The picture above was taken Saturday while on a walk in my neighborhood. I had walked by this house for 25 years, and never really noticed the flowers before. (And yes, my own house is considerably more modest.)
To spiritualize that thought a bit. This crisis is starting to open my eyes, to possibilities I have never imagined, and to things I have never seen.
May I continue to be “Jesus shaped” in all the ways that I respond.
As usual your thoughts and comments are welcome, although today I will be moderating carefully so that we don’t fall back into our own Godwin trap.