Saturday, July 22, 2006

Contemplating An Open Mic. . .

President Bush's open microphone got him in a bit of trouble recently at the G8 Summit meeting. His private comments to British Prime Minister Tony Blair made the evening news, all of the morning news programs and, of course, the late night comedy shows.

I feel for him.

Can you imagine being under that kind of constant scrutiny?

The incident reminded me of a now infamous speech delivered by Tony Campolo several years ago at a big national youth ministry conference.

Campolo, the master of shock and prophetic comedy among Evangelicals, opened his address by screaming the same expletive that the networks had to bleep out of the President's audio.

Got the picture? Talk about sucking all the oxygen out of a room!

Tony then calmly stated, "Now, admit it. Most of you are more concerned that I used that word than you are that over 30,000 children died of disease and starvation last night."


Talk about capturing audience attention.

Of course, I do suppose one can care about how language is used, chosen or not employed while also caring about the issues of justice, compassion and hunger alleviation.

But, I think Tony is onto something. And, just maybe, we shouldn't spend much more time worrying over the President's language.

The media had a field day with the President's choice of words. That could be because of how important he says his religion is to him. I suppose the press would equate nicer language with a more genuine religious commitment. Lots of us would as well, wouldn't we?

I've come to believe that such an understanding is shallow and naive.

Don't get me wrong here. Language does matter in a civil society (and in the canons of Sunday School).

But lots of things are much more important.

I'm not so concerned about what a person says.

What I want to know is what do they do? What does a person stand for and care about? That seems much more important.

If I were the media, the fact that children went to bed hungry last night here in Dallas would be much more disturbing to me than how the President spoke when he didn't know we were listening.

The church ought to adopt the same priorities.

Growing up in church, I got the very clear impression that foul language, dancing, drinking, and mixed bathing (i. e. that would be "swimming," as I had to explain to my children as they were growing up in the same church tradition!) were the big issues.

Strange how in that system no one ever talked or fretted over poverty, racism, war, injustice or fair wages.

Looking back on my early experiences, I think I see the utilitarian value in this emphasis on private, individual piety. Makes a great shield against facing what really matters for life in this hurting world.

Trouble is, such an approach also hides us from what really matters to God, at least as I understand God today.

So, that's okay Mr. President. We can cut you some slack on this one.

Now, let's talk about hunger, housing, health care, wages, tax policy and peacemaking.


Anonymous said...

Larry, you are exactly right. The Door, a number of years ago, ran an editiorial piece about making mountains out of molehills while turning genuine mountains into simple molehills. This is one of the fatal flaws of this administration.

However -- I think the other piece of this puzzle is worth noting: the hypocrisy of President Bush and his supporters. He is considered to be the Christian President. Chrisitans do not call others what Mr. Bush has called at least one other... The Bible does have a lot to say about our speech, and I think his earlier slip caught on the mike, when Mr. Bush called a N Y Times reporter a "major league _____," revealed his disdain for a person and a profession. His attitude, and his language, helped create a terrible climate for the search for truth.

Nevertheless, you are certainly right: it is not the language of Mr. Bush that bothers me, but the policies that add to the burden of the neediest among us.

Randy Mayeux, Dallas

KentF said...

I'll cut Pres. Bush some slack - but not his buddy Dan Quayle. Dan was at a John Mellencamp concert and John made a comment to the effect that "this administration has shown little concern for the poor in America". Dan apparently got up and walked out of the concert according to his PR person. It made the AP wire today. Gimmee a break Mr. former VP - John can voice his opinion - and it's one I happen to find pretty factual.

Rambler said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rambler said...

Just so too in my work place there are a couple loud spoken individuals that often make one sided unfavorable comparisons between Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton. Repeatedly the claim is made that they would rather have a philandering president than... (they insert their choice of accusation against Mr. Bush).

I find admirable traits in both and weaknesses in both.

I also remember there are no perfect men. King David was man after God’s own heart and yet sinned sexually. Yet he was able to be forgiven and continued to serve both God and man. I do not find any bible character in whom there is no fallenness unless their character is overly truncated in scripture.

Rahab the Harlot is found in the seed line of Christ. She may well have a been a fallen woman, but regardless of that she lied in order to spare the two spies who had been sent by Israel. In so doing she showed faith in Israel’s God (?). And by the way, where do spies who use deceit to do their mission have a place in God’s economy?

Perhaps we have taught a wrong headed piety to begin with? I suspect this topic could bear a great deal more study. Thanks for brazenly and lovingly posting it.

Anonymous said...

I authorize $25,000 per year to be withdrawn from my account for incarceration expenses. I will NOT pay for your strategic requirement of institutionalization. This is something YOU require for YOUR positioning and YOU should have to pay for it.
I wonder if their fear of inarceration is borne from their refusal to address black disfavor on a macro level. The ruling species abuse black people so hard, from the crack epiemic to gang membership, black-on-black violence and mass incarceration of their young.
They refuse to address the issue of the prison industrial complex and its wholesale warehousing of young black men.

Bill Hanstrom said...

I agree with you that what a person says is not near as important as what they do. I have heard it said that I can't hear what you are saying because your actions are so loud I can't hear you.

The President should be held to a higher level on all things, because he is the president, and if he says he is the right hand of God as this one does then he should try to live the part by doing the things that you and I seem to agree on are the important to God.

Please continue the great work.

Bill Hanstrom