Friday, January 14, 2011

…’I Would Sooner Have Become A Hog Than a Christian'

Or substitute ‘Republican’, ‘Democrat’ or any other label for the word ‘Christian’ you might want to add right now in America in the aftermath of the terrible shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.

Martin Luther, the great German theologian, once observed of Christian/Jewish tensions throughout history up to his time writing in 1519:

‘If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would have sooner become a hog than a Christian.’

Dr. Luther certainly had a way with words. He also talked about God wanting us all to work hard for a living and not stand around ‘with our mouths wide open waiting for a fried chicken to fly into it!’

We did not know there was a flourishing fried chicken business in Germany in the 16th century.

Previously, in 1515, he wondered why any Jew would ever want to become a Christian Jew ‘(given the) cruelty and enmity we wreak on them—that in our behavior towards them we less resemble Christians than beasts.’ 1)

Given the current coarse level of discourse in America today, we believe you could substitute almost any label you wanted in place of ‘Christian’ and it works:‘I Would Sooner Be A Hog Than A (Republican) (Democrat) (Tea Partier) (Duke Fan)!'.

We don’t treat each other with the respect we all deserve and we want for ourselves. Because we are ‘right’ of course, and ‘they’ (our opponents) are not.

We are not sure exactly when or where the political discourse of this country passed the ‘fail-safe’ point and headed to where it is today. And quite honestly, we don’t really care when or where or how it happened.

We think it is incumbent upon every single person who cares about politics and opines in a blog; on cable television; on talk radio; or in any newspaper to start raising the level of debate from that of the ‘hogs in the pigsty’ back to a more lofty perch in civilized society.

‘How can I do that?’ you might ask.

For one thing, you can consider having coffee, lunch or a beer with someone on the opposite side of any issue you are particularly exercised about. It is impossible to ever discuss any possible solutions to any problems, as in your marriage, for example, if you never sit down to talk with the other person involved.

Solution-solving, (dare we call it ‘compromising’?), happens when people find some community of interest and can work together in a spirit of respect and mutual benefit.

Sometimes, it takes the hammer of crisis and desperation to force a compromise, as in 1983 when Social Security was supposedly ‘going broke’ and the Greenspan Commission raised payroll taxes well over what was needed to fund the program for the past 26 years. (We are now in a much more ‘desperate’ financial situation with Social Security in that current revenues have fallen short of current expenses in SS benefits being paid out for the past 8 months or so)

I am more than familiar with the violence that ensues when people are on two distinctly different sides of the issue. My sister, Susan Hill, who passed away last January, was a leader in the abortion rights movement of the ‘70’s and worked for reproductive freedom for women for 36 years.

She was Target #6 on the so-called ‘Nuremberg Files’ website which is a 'hit-list' dedicated to seeing all abortion activists and doctors eliminated from the face of this earth. Susan’s clinics were fire-bombed, anthrax-ed, ricsin-ed and picketed almost daily. She was handed death threats almost weekly and had federal marshals assigned to her as a result of the FACE Act passed by Congress.

In the aftermath of her death, I have had the occasion to meet and have coffee with some of the NARAL/NOW folks who admired Susan’s courage, as did I, in the face of all these threats to her life. Here's what they said: ‘You know, this is the first time I have ever had coffee with someone from the pro-life side of this issue. Maybe we should do it more often’.

Like more than once every 36 years, I guess they meant.

Our point is that in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy in Arizona where 9 people were killed by a deranged killer and Representative Gifford’s life was put in jeopardy, think about the ways you, as a citizen of the greatest democratic republic the world has ever known and the greatest protector of free speech in history, can take positive, proactive determined steps to meet with people who may think differently than you do on any issue you want to pick out.

And go have coffee with them. Or lunch. Or a beer...or two or three. You’ll find common ground soon enough.

Illegal Immigration. Abortion. Budget Deficits. Global Warming. Greyhound Racing.

The issue almost doesn’t matter. The main thing is for you to meet with your neighbor in a civilized manner and discuss these issues out in the open without any front people or media handlers being a shill for you or your side of things.

And in so doing, you will at least help the other person not want to be a ‘hog’ instead of becoming more like you, or at least agreeing with you 1%.

How can you ever persuade anyone to agree with you when they don’t like you first? Or even know you?

courtesy of

1)  from 'Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet,Spy' by Eric Metaxas

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