So What's This All About?

In case you didn't know, I'm in the multi-year-long process of posting a Christian devotional at the TAWG Blog. The TAWG Blog is, and always will be, mostly apolitical. For the most part, Bible-believing Christians will find little to disagree with there. But I also firmly believe that God's word can--and should--inform everything in life, and this should include politics and popular culture. How should we vote? How should we respond to hot topics such as abortion, capital punishment, taxes, and other issues? Which party, if either, is closer to the Biblical ideal? Tony Campolo and Ron Sider, Evangelicals whose political leanings are on the Left, have made the case in several of their writings that God wants his followers to vote politically on the Left more than on the Right. At times, some of them have gone so far as to equate voting on the Left with obedience to Christ, either subtly or not-so-subtly contending that the converse is true as well: If you vote Republican, you're sinning against the Savior.
I don't agree. I think that to the degree they actually resort to the Bible, they're misinterpreting it. With a whole bunch of caveats, I think politically conservative positions are a lot more compatible with the Scriptures than the Leftist positions.
Just to clarify, I would never accuse people who disagree with me--especially siblings in Christ--of what they accuse me of. I don't judge my own heart, much less anyone else's, and I don't equate political disagreement with theological fidelity to God. I have no reason to doubt their love for the Lord and "for the least of these," but I believe that they're sincerely wrong.
So there are two main purposes for this blog. One is to make a case for my political beliefs based on Scripture. The other is a bit more vague, basically to work out my political beliefs and figure out what's based on Scripture and what's based on my own biases. I certainly don't have all the answers. Some of this stuff I'm still figuring out. And I'm certainly open to correction. As long as you make your case civilly and based on Scripture, feel free to make a comment, and I promise I'll post it and consider your arguments thoughtfully and prayerfully. Who knows? Maybe we'll learn a little something from each other.
May God bless our common striving together towards both the "little t" truth and "Big T" Truth. Our watchword here is a line from C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle: "Further up and further in!"

P.S. -- Below on the left is "Topics I've Covered" which lists everything I've posted topically. It's come to my attention that some people would like to see everything just listed for them. If that's you, you can get it here. Thanks to my friend Stephen Young for the tip!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Story of The Kultur Brothers, Part One

            I’m going to get back to Ayn Rand soon, but since I submitted that quote about multiculturalism yesterday, I felt I had to also submit something that’s been rattling around in my head for some time now. I know that I’m going to really offend a lot of people with this story, but here goes. . .
            This is the story of the Kultur family. The patriarch of this clan had several children, and as it happened they were all sons. He tried his best to instill in them what he called the Rules for Life, which he hoped would lead them into successful, prosperous and happy lives. The rules included such things as A) Everyone is made in God’s image, B) Work hard, C) Invest your money, don’t just spend it, D) Real men treat their wives like queens, and NEVER EVER EVER cheat on them (this is really important later).
            As I mentioned, the Father of the family had lots of sons, and as you might expect they had various degrees of success in life. Unfortunately, most of them weren’t nearly as well-off and happy as they’d like. In fact, most of them lived either at or near poverty level. They were constantly living hand-to-mouth, and they were well aware that they were one paycheck away from being thrown out into the street.
            But one son. . . wow. To call him an overachiever would be a strong understatement. Sam graduated High School at age 16, went to undergraduate school, got accepted to John Hopkins School of Medicine, and was a practicing neurosurgeon by the age of 24. He married a supermodel, has four kids (all of whom are pretty successful), makes a six-figure salary (bordering on seven figures), lives in a mansion, and seems to be pretty happy with life.
            Two more things you should know before we introduce our narrative today. First, anyone with an unbiased eye could easily see a pattern among the brothers: Each son was successful in life to the degree that he followed the Father’s Rules. Notice that I said “to the degree”: None of the sons followed the Father’s rules perfectly. All of them fell short to some degree or another. But if a son followed the Rules, say, 45% of the time, he was more successful than his brother who followed them, say, 20% of the time.  
            The other thing you should know is that Sam, despite considerable effort, didn’t follow the Rules perfectly. About ten years ago, he cheated on his wife. It was a one-time affair, and he immediately confessed to his wife, and they reconciled after some counseling. He’d be the last one on earth to offer any excuses for his behavior, and although their marriage isn’t perfect, they’d both say they’re happy together.  
            Now we’re ready to pick up our narrative:

            Man, I really wish I had no sense of smell right now. That thought’s been coming to the forefront of my brain repeatedly as I step over the myriad piles of trash, debris, waste (human and otherwise) that litter the front “yard.” A lot of it I recognize, but some of it I don’t, and don’t want to.
            Lester’s in his usual spot: sitting in his underwear on a worn-out patio chair outside his trailer home. And as usual, he’s smoking a cigarette and holding a beer to sip in between drags. I can’t help but notice the stains on his worn-out “wife beater” t-shirt. Not for the first time, I’m wondering why I’m friends with this guy, but my smile hides my doubts as I bid him good morning.
            “Mornin’” he grunts in response.
            “Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed? Why so glum?”
            “Had another bout with the no-good brother of mine.”
“Who else? That jerk laid down the law last night over the phone: No more money until I prove that I’m looking for a job. Who the h*** does he think he is?!”
“Well, he’s your brother, the one who’s been keeping you from living on the street for years now.”
“Now don’t you start with me! Need I remind you what type of man my brother is? He cheated on his wife!
“Um, yeah, he did. Ten years ago. He confessed it, he made up with her, and they seem to be happy now. And another thing. . .”
“Yeah?” The obvious rage behind that one word should’ve warned me off, but I find myself saying some things that Lester’s been needing to hear.
“Lester, I gotta point out that you haven’t exactly been faithful to your wife either. I heard from Bill that you were walking out of a bar last night with another woman last night. And I couldn’t help noticing lately that your wife’s been sporting some shiners.”
He half-rises out of his chair and nearly screams at me: “THAT’S NOT WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT RIGHT NOW!!! WE’RE TALKING ABOUT MY BROTHER! THE ONE WHO CHEATED ON HIS WIFE!!!”
“Lester, calm down, or I’m leaving right now. Look, I gotta tell you I see a pattern here in your family. It seems like all of you brothers cheat on your wives at least once. I can’t think of any exceptions off hand. But most of them break it off, make up with their wives, and then live the straight and narrow.”
“So what are you saying?” He’s calmed down a bit, so maybe my threat to leave got his attention.
“What I’m saying is that what’s bad—cheating in your marriage—is common to all of you. But what’s good—having a successful career, making good money, having a good marriage—is pretty much unique to one brother: Sam. Of all your brothers, he’s the one who followed his Father’s Rules the most, and of all your brothers, he’s most successful. See the pattern?”
“Yeah, I see a pattern. My brother’s a cheater, that’s the pattern.”
“As I pointed out. . .”
“I’m not just talking about cheating on his wife. I’m talking about his cheating in school.”
“Yeah, he cheated in school. That’s why he’s so successful.”
            “How do you know that?”
            “I just do, that’s all. The only reason he passed school is because he conspired with the teachers there.”
“Again, do you have any evidence of this? I mean, I’ve never heard anything about him cheating. . .”
“He DID! I just know it! No one’s that smart! Out of everybody in this family, how’d he get so smart, huh? Nobody else in this whole family has done as good in school as he did.”
“It’s ‘well,’ and I know good and well—and I think you do too—that he worked his tail off in school. He held a job all the way through, had no free time, got maybe three or four hours of sleep a night, and all his professors said he was a great student. He graduated early from High School. Did he cheat there too?”
“I told you it’s ‘well,’ and if you shout at me again, I’m gone.”
“Fine. So what’re you sayin’?”
“I’m saying that if you want to make a success out of life, then instead of trying to tear your brother down, you might want to start. . . imitating him.”
“Sure. He’s worked hard, tried to make the most of what he had, sacrificed over and over for what he wanted out of life, and he got what he wanted. He’s not perfect—nobody is—but he’s tried to follow your Father’s rules, and the more he’s followed them, the better off he is.”
“I told you before. .  .!”
“Yeah, he’s a cheater, it’s all unfair, yada yada yada. Keep telling yourself that, and maybe people around you will keep pretending it’s true. That’s part of your trouble, you know. You surround yourself with people who tell you that everything bad in your life is not your fault. Your friends all agree with you that you’re only a failure in life because your brother’s so successful, or that he’s only successful because he cheats, or that your sins and his are comparable, or that he’s even worse, that he treats his wife worse than you do. You need better friends.”
“All my buddies support me! When I’m around them, they help me feel better about myself!”
“Uh huh. What you need are not people who make you feel better about yourself. What you need are people who’ll tell you the same thing I’m telling you right now. The truth.”
He didn’t raise his voice. He just stared at me for a moment. When he did finally speak, it was with a low voice and full of barely-repressed rage: “You need to leave. Right now.”
I matched his stare for a moment, sighed, turned around, and slowly walked out of the yard. As I passed the fence that marked the boundary of the trailer spot, I distinctly heard him yelling at his wife to bring him another beer.

If you want to understand the point to this story, there’s a very simple clue that unlocks it: Every name has a meaning. And it so happens that Sam has some nephews. So what does that make him?

No comments:

Post a Comment