Political Ping-Pong

What Phil Robertson Reminded Me About Politics


I am really getting tired of the polarized political debate we are currently facing in North America.

Gay marriage, income inequality, Obama Care, oil pipelines, corporate bail-outs, hanging chads, global warming, whatever, it’s seems it’s being going on forever and it’s never going to stop.

It’s nothing more than a game of political ping-pong.


To be honest I’ve never played much ping-pong so my analogy may fall apart but here’s the way I see it.  Ping-pong is at its heart a very simple game.  You bounce a ball back and forth across a table with a paddle about the size of a dessert plate.  Two players of equal skill can go on bouncing that ball back and forth forever with neither one scoring any points. (The longest rally in history lasted for over 8 hours). More often, one player will be caught off balance and the ball will slip by resulting in the other player scoring a point.  When both players are equally matched this happens on both sides pretty much an equal number of times.  The official rules of ping-pong state that the game is won when one player reaches 11 points but if both players reach 10 points the game continues until someone wins by 2.  Again, when players are equally matched the game can in theory go on forever.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest ping-pong match in history took place in 1971 and lasted 59 hours and 30 minutes.

Here’s the point.  The endless debate between the political left and right has become nothing more than a marathon ping-pong match between two equally skilled players and it’s getting really boring.

At the end of the day nobody has a corner on the truth.  When someone tries to appeal to some higher law, such as they might find in the Bible (a – la Phil Robertson’s comments this past week) or science (a – la Global Warming) they are branded as uneducated, in-tolerant or bigoted.  To quote another popular TV series from a bi-gone era, “The Truth is Out There”.  But we’re too busy trying to score points in a game of political ping-pong to see it.

The truth is not subject to your political ideology, it just is.

Global warming is a fact; the climate data does not lie but according to many seeing that makes me a lefty pinko who hates capitalism.  Gay marriage is wrong, at least from a religious point of view, but that makes me an uneducated bigot who’s on the wrong side of history.  But wait, I made a distinction between religion and the legal status of two people united in Love and socio-economic reasons, by separating marriage from religion and placing it in the sphere of politics and the economy I’m back to being a relativist firmly ensconced on the left.

Or am I?

Maybe I’m [*gasp*] a centrist!  Which as we all know is just another term used by people on both sides describe an equal opportunity bigot.

Here’s the big idea.

When Phil Robertson states that he believes Gay marriage is wrong because it goes against what the bible teaches, he’s making a statement of truth.  The question isn’t, do you agree with Phil Robertson, the question is do you agree with the Bible.  We can quibble over the underlying meaning of the scriptures and whether or not certain passages that seem to support equality and freedom of choice supersede others or whether the bible should be used to influence what is essentially a socio-economic issue unique to this point in history, just like we can (and should) continue to test the science of Global Warming.  But at the end of the day, the truth is the truth and even as we continue to push the boundaries we must remain cognizant of those who have gone before us.

While our forefathers (is that politically correct? maybe I should just say our predecessors) may not have had all the facts, they too were searching for truth and they did the best they could with what they had.  As we continue to search for truth in our time maybe, just maybe we need to accept the idea that our forefathers (sorry, predecessors) had it right all along.

PS – I hate ping-pong!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Meekness

Every once in a while I feel compelled to explain why I use the word meek to describe the work I do and the movement I’m trying to start through this blog, my books and my public speaking.  As I say in the introduction to “Meekonomics; How to Inherit The Earth and Live Life to the Fullest in God’s Economy”; meek is one of those bible words we don’t use in regular conversation anymore and as a result it has lost much of its meaning.

This past week I finally started reading Dietrich Bonheoffer’s seminal work on the Christian life; “The Cost of Discipleship”.

Originally published in 1937, at the height of Nazi Germany, it’s a clarion call directed at German Christians to reject the godless politics of National Socialism and return to an uncompromisingly orthodox understanding of scripture.  It’s precisely this kind of writing and preaching that landed Bonhoeffer in a jail and saw him hanged by the Nazi’s just two weeks before the allied armies would have liberated him.  That, and the fact that he was implicated in a plot to murder Hitler could apparently get you killed in the 1940s, go figure.

Now, over seventy years after it was first published, and in a Christian culture dominated by right wing political ideology, the message of “The Cost of Discipleship” remains just as relevant as it was in Hitler’s Germany, and for a book written in a different era, it’s a surprisingly easy read.

Bonhoeffer’s interpretation of Matthew 5:5, which I base most of my writing on, is perhaps the most clearly profound explanation of this biblical passage I’ve ever read.  I don’t poach the work of other authors very often but I’d like to take this opportunity to quote Bonhoeffer at length and allow his writing to speak for itself.

“Blessed are the meek:  for they shall inherit the earth.”  This community of strangers possesses no inherent right of its own to protect its members in the world, nor do they claim such rights, for they are meek, they renounce every right of their own and live for the sake of Jesus Christ.  When reproached, they hold their peace; when treated with violence they endure it patiently; when men drive them from their presence, they yield their ground.  They will not go to law to defend their rights, or make a scene when they suffer injustice, nor do they insist on their legal rights.  They are determined to leave their rights to God alone – non cupidi vindicate, as the ancient Church paraphrased in.  Their right is in the will of their Lord – that and no more.  They show by every word and gesture that they do not belong to the earth.  Leave heaven to them, says the world in its pity, that is where they belong.  But Jesus says; “They shall inherit the earth.”  To these, the powerless and the disenfranchised, the very earth belongs.  Those who now posses it by violence and injustice shall lose it, and those who here have utterly renounced it, who were meek to the point of the cross, shall rule the new earth.  – Dietrich Bonhoeffer; The Cost of Discipleship

I really have nothing to add.  Instead I challenge you to meditate on that for a bit and ask yourself; are you ready to inherit the earth?

Chick-fil-A, KKK and Bigotry on All Sides – Enough is Enough!

Until know I’ve managed to ignore the whole Chick-Fil-A debate but this week something else happened that I couldn’t ignore and the two incidents stem from the same issue. 

It all started when I saw this story from fellow blogger Kurt Willems on his site, “The Pangea Blog”

Church Refuses to Marry Black Couple in Mississippi, Racism Alive in 2012.

I re-tweeted the link with the simple comment “Shocking” and thought that would be the end of it, until a few hours later when I received this reply on my twitter feed from @jaczaja;

@laurencsheil @KurtWillems That’s shocking? You must not live near Deepswamp, GA. I personally know KKK-“important” citizens.

When I responded that I thought that was just sad I received this further explanation.

@laurencsheil Know a newspaper publisher kept his Klan suit in his office until 2002. The fight is not over.

Add that to the endless Chick-Fil-A debacle and it’s enough to make a Jesus loving, bible study theology nerd like me apoplectic!

 At the end of the day both incidents come down to the same issue.  It’s bigotry plain and simple! 

And it’s not just the so called Christian Right that can claim a monopoly here.  I also follow a group that calls itself The Christian Left (@TheChristianLft) that I am sad to say has only tended to add fuel to the debate with its own brand of left wing bigotry.    Case in point, this photo posted on their facebook page earlier this week;

This kind of thing may seem funny to some but trust me, the people you need to convince aren’t laughing.  We all need to take a step back, collect ourselves and come to the table, with open hearts and bibles in hand willing to enter into a constructive and loving debate and stop posting caricatures and parodies of one other. 

Frankly I don’t know if Jesus hates fags or not, I’ve never had the chance to ask him.  But that’s not the point.  What I do know is that Jesus prayed for the unity of his church and there are about as many versus in the bible that support Christian’s openly slandering one another on any point of theology as there are stories about unicorns!  (I looked it up, there are no unicorns in the bible just incase you were wondering) 

Enough is enough!

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”[John 13:34.35]