Friday, September 4, 2009

How a Glenn Beck statement affected me

Out of all the things I could blog about…I decided to use this space to respond to a Facebook status & comments made. Facebook isn’t good for elaborate discussions, so I thought I would post it on a blog.

Why focus on this? Well, I made a promise to respond, and I am trying to really fulfill what I promise. There’s a new season of my life blossoming, but I need to work on some things first.

Anyway…This was prompted by a relative who was in town form Holland & watching Fox News’ Glenn Beck show.

He was ranting & raving like a right wing extremist, but it caught my ears when he said something like “Social Justice is just a code word for…” and I think it was communism or something anti-American. Why did it spark such a hot response form me? “Social justice” is a phrase that CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICALS use to talk about issues that Christians need to address in our society. It’s a phrase used very often by students, graduates and faculty of MOODY BIBLE INSTITUTE. It’s a college, but certainly NOT one that a right winger could claim has been co-opted by Liberals. Social Justice is also talked about by the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA). Several CCDA members have ties to Moody Bible Institute, as many of CCDA’s members are MBI graduates.

So when Beck attacked “social justice’, I felt he was attacking Christianity (probably without knowing it), and really reveals a heart of NON-Christians on the Political Right. Because of the Political Right/Republican Party’s verbal stance n issues like abortion, sex, etc., many Born again Christians have assumed that all of the republican platform is OK (or at least, “not that sinful”). And that will lead to moral compromise among Christians involved. (And I know that’s not everyone…see some of the responses from Facebook to get examples of those who may have a political orientation, but yet still aware of the sin around them)

I think there are far more Born again Christians on the Left who are aware of the the “sins” of that side, and still represent Christ in those areas, and vote/work accordingly. (Some examples of Christian’s who may seem on the “Left”: the work of the Marin Foundation, or Soong Chan Rah’s book The Next Evangelicalism). I think far more born again Christians on the Political right may not even be aware of the sins on their side and thus don’t speak on them.

Here’s the Facebook status conversation that was started:

JP John Paulus
A visitor was watching Glenn Beck and called "Social Justice"
a code word for socialism (or somehting like that). Can someone set up a viral
message/video that calls him an anti-Christian deceiver. Note how he is against
the CCDA & its... principles (which use capitalism as a tool for SOCIAL
JUSTICE)?!??!
August 28 at 4:18pm • Comment • Like / Unlike • View Feedback
(6) Hide Feedback (6)

Geoffrey D. Wessel
Why stop at "anti-Christian deceiver," he's been masquerading as a respectable journalist for years now...
August 28 at 8:24pm • Delete

Suzanne Alexis
Wouldn't it be better to do a more thorough investigation into what he really believes before calling him names? (It's possible your visitor misunderstood him or took his
words out of context). Is he allowed to have a different opinion than others?
August 28 at 11:06pm • Delete


David Pensgard
Let me be a little provocative here. Biblical communism (all things in common) is biblical and therefore Christian only when voluntary, communism that's forced is
robbery... which is unchristian. Beck's just a boiling chip for what most
Christians already know, which is that stealing isn't an acceptable
justification for giving to the poor. Giving is beautiful. Giving other people's
money against their will is ugly. I'm not defending Beck, I don't care for him
much. I'm just stating the evils of governmental communism. Capitalism (in
practice) isn't moral either, but it could be participated in by moral people
who work hard for the right reasons, take care of their needs, provide for their
families, and donate voluntarily to the needy and to the Church. I.e., charity
is the place for the sorts of activities that left- and right-wing ideologues
try to squeeze into government and corporations respectively. How's that for
provocation?
August 29 at 1:20pm • Delete



Suzanne Alexis
Good provocation, very good!!

I will continue provoking . . .

I strongly disagree with this administration's economic and social
policies, but would not join a group that calls the president names. I'm a lot
more interested in articles, groups, etc. that point out what is wrong with the
policies and why. That is freedom of expression. It's true that Jesus called the
Pharisees "white-walled sepulchres", but He could do so because He knew what was
really in their hearts. Since the rest of us don't have that kind of knowledge,
we should discuss our differences with civility, even if the other side isn't
being civil.
August 29 at 4:08pm • Delete


JP John Paulus

I wanted to write something before the status expires...won't be able to
today...but check my blog tomorrow. I wanted to respnd to what you had to say,
Suzanne & David. It's good stuff, but wanted to throw some other ideas out.
The blog address is http://more2ignore.blogspot.com
Hope to have it by 1pm tomorrow (Friday, CST)
Yesterday at 4:48pm • Delete


Suzanne Alexis

I didn't know our status could expire!!?! I'll be away for the weekend but hope to
read it when I get back.
2 hours ago • Delete



As far as health care… one thing no one has mentioned is that private industry has HAD their chance, for decades to help build something to help people.

And f you need to think economically…how does it help society if your kids get sick because a family couldn’t afford to go to the doctor or wait hours at a clinic? When a person drops dead or goes to the emergency room for a situation that a doctor visit could have prevented…doesn’t it cost you and me time and money?




On the bigger picture, if those on the political right really do want to help, not just cause division (especially to stroke their own ego), then they need to do a couple of things;

Repent of the sins on “their side”…the evil parts of capitalism that David Pensgard mentioned. Bernie Madoff and the whole “Mortgage derivative” mess…that wasn’t due to big government: that was sin from the private world

Communicate to build up rather than speak to destroy - People like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, etc. could be using their media influence to do things like get people to volunteer more, give more money to worth charities, network communities so the giving can be more efficient (i.e. one church in a neighborhood might provide nightly dinners to the homeless, another gives clothes. But without communication, these services can’t be maximized, nor can they catch abusers of “the system”),.We can cgo all over scripture.


The attitude and vicious talk is what especially galls me about the non-Christian conservatives, who can poison Christians’ thinking as well

A sharp contrast to Glenn Beck is Mike Huckabee. While I don’t agree with everything Huckabee says politically, he is a model Christians (and non-Christians) can respect and follow. In addition to having stances on some issues that are not typically considered Conservative/Politcal Right (i.e. support for the Arts in public schools, immigration reform that has some compassion on the immigrants), he actually DIALOGUES with people. He’s done so on the daily Show with Jon Stewart, talking about issues like abortion. Again, Huckabee wasn’t perfect on there, but I think he definitely opened doors in terms of dialogue and was a peacemaker.

We as Christians, wherever we’ve been called, need to be peacemakers and bridgebuilders, not just between people, but ultimately pointing to Jesus.

3 comments:

The Thief said...

Remember as you type that Glen Beck is not a Christian. He's a Mormon.

Anonymous said...

JP, David Pensgard here; that's a very clear-headed response you gave. Thanks! So, it sounds like you're against Beck and Limbaugh. That's fine with me; like I said, I don't care for them much. However they do provide a much-needed counter balance. They are as extreme on the right as others are on the left. And the others have a larger share of the media (maybe not in radio, but in TV).

Anyway, I'm still not sure where you stand on the national healthcare debate! Maybe I missed something, but it sounds like you're defending nationalized healthcare implicitly.

So, I've been thinking a lot about this issue and I think I've boiled it down to one ethical question. "Are you obligated to help me if I have a need?" We can substitute the "I" and "you" with government, taxpayer, the poor, the needy, etc. But the core question is the same.

It may seem like the answer is "Yes." However, if we specify certain kinds of needs the answer becomes more doubtful... "Are you obligated to give me you extra kidney if I need a kidney transplant?" ... or, let's add the government into the picture, "Should you be obligated under force of law and insistence of police with guns and handcuffs to surrender your kidney if I need a kidney transplant?"

Because of the obvious reversal of our gut reaction to these situations--at least I felt a slight tug toward saying yes to the first question and a definite no on the second--I think we're making a mistake on the first one. And, on the question of nationalized healthcare. The kidney example just hits us where we feel it, that's all.

My wife donated a kidney to her brother a few years ago. It was a beautiful thing. She was scared, but gave the organ anyway. Even now, she worries that it might shorten her life or predispose her to a disease. However, she doesn't regret the gift. It was a gift, and that's what made it beautiful.

Nationalized healthcare, on the other hand, turns a gift into something other than a gift. It makes a beautiful thing ugly. I think it does so necessarily.

What's the difference between demanding money in taxes to pay for other people's healthcare and demanding "spare" organs? The only difference is how much you feel the absence. The underlying principles remain unchanged.

If it's wrong to take someone's kidney against their will to help another person, then it's wrong to do the same thing with money, isn't it?

JP Paulus said...

Hey David,

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. (This response may not be the best...but i owe you something..you put a lot of thought in your response)

With healthcare....i don't care HOW it's done, whether a government public option, or private individuals or corporations stepping up, but something needs to be done.

The problem i think with people not trusting the PRIVATE sector, is that they have had YEARS to do SOMETHING. But what we have seen instead is case after case of greed. We have seen people who were willing to work and PAY (reasonably) for insurance, but denied because of a condition they have/had...even if it has been under control for YEARS.

In a position I just recruited for (the ISACorps...recent college grads willing to be paid relatively little money to help low income students know the admissions & financial aid process in order to go to & finish college). At least a few people were in danger of losing their job, because health insurance was required, but they couldn't qualify. Isn't that ridiculous? People who WANT to contribute can't do it.

Here's a thought -- we ALREADY have nationalized government healthcare, that is in fact FAR MORE "controlling" than any national health care plan.

The vast majority would certainly agree that the government (and by extension our tax dollars) should pay for any treatment, rehab and follow up care to veterans due to war injuries, and even just basic care (like regular check - ups).

But the tea-baggers ought to be up in arms about having to make us pay for poor choices by veterans (assuming their standards apply)? If they get STD's or lung cancer (the first, very preventable, the other, pretty preventable), they get care. IS that fair?

(Also, this government program doesn't require anyone to make an organ donation either; not sure where your example came from; it's not part of the current health system debate)

Just some things to think about...

sorry it's not addressing everything you brought up, but i wanted to make sure i responded in some way...the best solution is somewhere in the middle , i think.

i will hopefully get a chance to read up on your comments again, and address some other things you pointed out.