The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.
After 42 years as host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” Garrison Keillor is moving on. For the unfamiliar, Keillor is the long-time face of the celebrated program, a public radio staple with a loyal following of four million weekly listeners.
This Spring, Keillor penned a thought-provoking Op-Ed. The piece takes a look at our time and how faith informs perspective. He warns against the use of faith to build a personal brand – certainly something Jesus never intended.
And it got me thinking…
It irks me how regularly people politicize and commodify their beliefs as an act of sanctimony – sort of how-dare-you-take-a-different-position-than-the-base. If not for the political climate in which we live alone, public attitudes are strong and abiding.
The thing with brands is that they require cultivation, preservation, and protection. When a brand is threatened, the gloves come off. And what once served as a personal faith becomes something much more complicated.
A line in the sand. Pick your side.
Take the (gulp!) 2nd Amendment. Surely, there are few contemporary issues as divisive. And the idea of civil discourse long ago took a back seat. Why the 2nd Amendment has become emblematic, to many, of THE patriotic hill to die on is hard for me to interpret completely.
I don’t own a gun, but I have friends and family members who do. Some choose to hunt responsibly. Some wish to protect their family should the need ever arise. Some enjoy the challenge and skill of target practice. I get it.
On the other hand, I listen closely to the conscientious objections from those who oppose guns. Many have experienced personal tragedy that informs their perspective. I deeply respect their views.
There are those in the former camp that lionize our founding fathers and their pure intentions as a means of strengthening their position. Yet, some who pioneered the right to bear arms (albeit in an age long before the introduction of automatic weaponry), also found it acceptable to enslave a man on the basis of skin color.
But I digress.
My point is not to debate the merits of the 2nd Amendment (although, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find some common sense middle ground?). I’m more interested in the manner such topics are discussed and the way faith shapes the conversation.
Aligning one’s faith within the rigid confines of a political party represents an odd form of confirmation bias.
When someone takes a different position, it’s not a personal affront. There isn’t just one way to look at each and every issue. But separating folks into categories is easy – good guys and bad guys. The good guys think like me. The bad guys don’t.
Free will leaves room for discussion, reflection, and contemplation in the grey. And how we do is as important as what we do. Because if we’re to be known by our love, there very well should be love to observe.
So whether you fancy yourself a proponent of Ann Coulter, or Bill Maher, or anywhere in between….sometimes we can simply agree to disagree….agreeably.
Because faith is not currency. And it never will be.