Things I Think…
1. I think the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to do as a Christian and a pastor is respond to conspiracy theories without falling into sin myself. I used to laugh at how people in medieval times explained the world around them, but at least they could plead unwilling ignorance…they had too little information, we have too much and the new Dark Ages have begun…
2. I was shocked to see a well known “progressive”Christian advocating that unvaccinated people be denied care if they caught Covid 19….the desire to punish people who think differently is not only anti democratic, it’s anti Christ…
3. I am fully vaccinated and I encourage vaccination if you’re able…but coercing people to have mandatory vaccinations will not end well…
4. Praying that at some point my life and witness will not look like a buffet where I chose some from column A and others from column B…because only the fruit of the Spirit will produce real hope and change.“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”(Galatians 5:19–24 ESV)
5. When I was a kid we all watched at least some of the Olympics…I haven’t watched any of the games this year and mourn the loss of another thing we held in common…
6. I think the opposite of community is tribalism…one maintains local bonds and the other leads inevitably to war…
7. I’m terribly pessimistic about the immediate future…but even if all my thoughts of doom are true, Jesus is still on the throne…and that’s what keeps me from blowing away…
8. So…Mark Driscoll is getting tons of negative press and calls for his resignation again…and his parking lot is still full. The problem is in the pews, not just the pulpit…
9. In the Old Testament, when God wants to curse a nation, He curses the leadership…the fact that I think that judgment is reserved for the eschaton doesn’t make it easy to reconcile that with the current realities…and that applies to both parties and across the board…
10. I long for the day when I can love my enemies and genuinely bless and not curse…because then I will have begun to truly know Him…
Loving enemies? People whose goal is to harm you? Not easy…
For a number of years i lived in a cul duc sac on Puget Soound. The women in the surrounding houses hated me as did their children. Walking down the street to get the mail meant walking through a gauntlet of kids harassing me. I assumed it was because we were Sunday-go-to meeting Christians. Perhaps… One on one they were all polite, but…..
Today I realize that I could have prayed for them all much more than i did. God forgive me.
A family member called last night because another family member had filled him full of bizarre conspiracy theories.
It was all I could do not to go scorched earth on the source of the insanity.
It literally made me sick not to respond the way I wanted to.
The Christian life isn’t easy…but we have to hear the word of the Lord and try to do it…even when cursing seems more profitable…
Shakespeare’s “pound of flesh” sought by Shylock sums up well our human interest in exacting revenge and/or payment for perceived wrongs. It didn’t end well for him nor anyone who tries, but we think it will satisfy our sense of justice. Doesn’t work that way in the kingdom of God, but it seems our fellow travelers are struggling with it more publicly than before–perhaps again, it is the immediacy of the internet and the overheated passions of the season. You’re in good company my friend.
Thank you Fil…was thinking of you and your bride yesterday…praying you are well…
I was “enjoying” Christianity Today’s very slick podcast about Mark D when I had to stop and ask myself “Why am I enjoying this? I should be sorrowing.” I was enjoying it because it was so entertaining. Everything is probably true, but listening to the MD tragedy should not be “enjoyable.”
So I am going to have to set that aside for a bit.
Michael’s number three ” I’m terribly pessimistic about the immediate future…” I myself felt so encouraged after receiving my Covid Vaccine – it meant I could fly to Wisconsin and hug my 93- year-old father again! And now I am in Hawaii and I get to hug my 18-month-old grandson who I haven’t seen in 15 months! Such joy! It meant a two-hour line at the Honolulu airport in order to prove that we had, indeed, been vaccinated, butvsocworth the wait..But now, even here, with all of Hawaii’s precautions, the Covid transmission rates are rising again. There is even talk of falling back to a previous tier. My little granddaughter is very excited about s Luau we are supposed to attend thus weekend, but if Hawaii falls back a tier, that will most likely be cancelled. My daughter’s family is being transferred to an Army base in Alabama in October and I am dismayed to hear that Alabama has the lowest number of vaccinated residents of any state, at only 30% ! I felt so hopeful that we all had entered the light at the end if the tunnel but now it seems that there is more reason for pessimism…
Bride, I feel the same. It seemed like things were going so well, and I flew to Minnesota to visit my very sick daughter, but it’s going backwards again, looks like.
“I used to laugh at how people in medieval times explained the world around them, but at least they could plead unwilling ignorance…they had too little information, we have too much and the new Dark Ages have begun…”
This is very insightful and a great analogy.
Our hospitals are full again and we’re in the middle of summer.
I believe any mitigation…even masking…will be met with scorn and possibly violence…so I don’t think it will happen.
By December many will be sick, some will die.
My clan is wearing masks now and will continue to do so…
On #1… https://www.christiancentury.org/article/interview/dangers-providing-pastoral-care
Michael, Just yesterday California announced that all public employees must be either vaccinated OR they must submit to weekly Covid testing in order to retain their jobs. Perhaps other states will follow suit. Hopefully that will increase the vaccination rate. I fear that ‘vaccine hesitancy’ has become ‘vaccine defiance’ for many and that many will continue to stubbornly defy the appeal to be vaccinated for the “common good”.I am also hoping that the FDA will give the vaccine its full approval soon. Schools have long required students to get MMR vaccines and many other immunizations in order to prevent the spread of disease. Once fully approved, I am sure the Covid vaccine will be added to the list of required vacines. Then, those who wish to take their chances with this deadly virus will no longer be putting others at risk to the same degree that they are now.
I need to read that multiple times…two giants at work…
I am adamantly opposed to mandatory vaccination for work.
There are those who cannot take the vaccine who don’t fall in the narrow CDC exemptions…should they be forced into poverty as well?
I am vaccinated…but not without real questions about the short and long term affects of the shot.
I think people have the right to be wrong…
I just don’t know. We have a very immunity compromised daughter (chemo) who will probably be here for Thanksgiving, and even the anti-vaxxers in the crowd say they’ll get the shots to protect their sister. Yet what about other people’s immunity-compromised sisters who might be wandering about the grocery store?
Yet I know some people have sincere doubts about the vaccine, for religious and non-religious reasons, so I can understand their anger at having something they are deeply suspicious about being injected into their bodies.
Yet what about the common good? Are we so individualistic that we can’t take a risk for the well-being of others?
So I am conflicted. People I really, really admire in most areas are against the vaccine and are deeply suspicious of it.
I don’t buy the conspiracy theories, but I think people who worry that we don’t really know the effects of the vaccine in the long run have a point to make. But by the time enough time has passed to have a good idea about after-effects, how many will have died?
So I don’t know. We got the shots so we could visit our daughter, who, by the way, can use your holy prayers.
The same people (not thinking of anyone here) who want more data and or proof that the vaccine is safe and effective, are the same people who believe the last presidential election was stolen on the basis of one man’s claim! Give me a break!
Let me put it simply and bluntly, we as a society will not endure without a mutual sense of community, a respect for the vocations of our neighbors, and a level of trust. Look, the data is overwhelming that the hospitalized and dead from the Delta variant are overwhelmingly the unvaccinated and under vaccinated.
Xenia, praying for your dear daughter … These times are very trying for folk who care about doing the right thing. We do waaay underestimate prayer, however. The hardest part of praying for me is to say, “Your will be done.” I remember our Lord’s prayer and The Father’s will was the crucifixion .
“The same people (not thinking of anyone here) who want more data and or proof that the vaccine is safe and effective, are the same people who believe the last presidential election was stolen on the basis of one man’s claim! ”
That is simply not true.
I know many who are concerned about the long term effects of the shots and we know that there have been severe reactions and even death from the vaccines.
People who have had Lyme disease are particularly vulnerable…and they will not listen to the CDC because the CDC has done a horrific job with treatment and diagnoses of Lyme.
Will be praying for your daughter…
All I can say is that I don’t feel confident in harshly criticizing either camp.
I rather wish everyone would get their shots, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to go.
I do hear more crazy talk from the anti-vaxxers than from the vaxxers, I will say that.
Thanks, Em and Michael. Her name is Rachel.
Michael your comment at 11:53 gripped my soul today. The last paragraph stating that “The Christian life isn’t easy” is so true & makes me determined to try harder…pray I can at least improve a little!
I just now came from Twitter where people are saying the vaccinated have no obligation to protect the unvaccinated, let them drown, basically.
So that’s crazy talk from the other side.
It’s only possible with the Spirit…own own efforts don’t seem to move the needle much!
There is something much worse for a society than a flawed ordered society, and that is no order at all. That is the inheritance of libertarianism. Whether theological or temporal, it will lead to death, one of the church, the other of the nation.
I too want everyone who can to be vaccinated…but I fall very short of forcing them to do so.
There are crazies on both sides …it’s very tiring…
I, too, will be praying for Rachael. That must be so hard – to have an immune compromised loved one in the midst of all this. I will be praying for healing AND extra protection from this virus for her.
#8. This came up before in relation to turning one over to Satan, with Duane mentioning this occurred as a function of Bishops.
But in the modern era. If the target of condemnation has fled his assembly, ( check ) and said target has restarted his previously condemned behavior resulting in harm, (check check) then are not his former overseers obligated to turn him over to Satan?
I’m not asking if there is precedent for this, but rather in the building of the House of God, is there a point at which ethics requires elders to do so? Yes, Christ builds his Church, but we also build, for better or worse.
Thank you, Bride. We appreciate your prayers.
The friend who called me a card carrying Nazi sheep for getting vaccinated sent me more anti-vax verbiage today. I awoke to an unsolicited text. He said he long ago made peace with dying by whatever means but he wasn’t going to be controlled.
Last night and today, I texted my other friend, his brother, who seemed pleased that an un vaxxed man died in Eastern WA (he runs a funeral home on Puget Sound). He also indicated that the more unvaccinated trumpistas, the better. Neither are Christians though RCC by birth, not practice.
There were only two of us in the lab who hadn’t yet donned masks again for the delta variant. I chose to wear mine today, expecting static from my colleague and long term friend who watches Fox. He said, “what’s up with the obedience mask?” I told him that I wore it to expose him as the last holdout. I told him that and he shook his head. No animosity between us; I was kind of trolling him, but I think I might keep wearing it. All of us in the lab are vaccinated including him.
It’s sad these days that people can’t just let someone else be and not have to make some snarky statement about their choices. And I say this as one who myself judged others by their mask/no mask, etc choices.
I am on vacation from my job, and I go back next week to the office and will be interested in seeing if masks will be required again.
#4-No matter where you stand on vaccines or the elections, if believers aren’t displaying the fruit of the Spirit, we will just continue to disintegrate. I’ve hit the point of if I already have a good idea where a conversation will go, I suggest a change of topic or politely walk away.
A few thoughts here,
In regard to the state of CA (or any employer for that matter) requiring vaccination for its employees, that is perfectly fine. If you don’t like it, you are free to work for someone else. It’s funny the people who complain about employers requiring vaccinations or masks are perfectly OK with them requiring drug testing. All these folks standing up for their FREEDUMB, seem to forget that employers have their freedom not to hire or keep employees who don’t follow the employer’s policies. C
Some of us less intelligent people question the right to force someone to ingest something that can cause them harm.
Some of us dummies have real concerns about the variety of side effects and lack of long term studies.
Some of us are stupid enough to hear real concerns that need to be addressed…
My comment above wasn’t directed at you, just to be clear, but to those of us at large who judge others by masks/vaccs/etc. I have a co-worker who, I would bet my salary, ingests Fox News on a regular (i.e., nightly) basis. Once in a while he breaks out into a rant about Fauci, Vaccines, Biden, Pelosi, AOC, etc. But one day I was talking with him and he said that he doesn’t judge other on whether they want to wear a mask or not. Kind of a rare combination there.
Seems like there is a common thread to your thoughts above Michael…that is…loving your enemies.
It’s an interesting take on where Scripture talks about “who is my neighbor?” Who are my enemies? The ones who picked on my in school? People who voted for “the other guy/gal”?
Very tough indeed? How many of us cannot bring ourselves to build any kind of bridge whatsoever with someone who doesn’t share our beliefs (not just political)? For instance, more than a few times I would find myself agreeing with someone online about something they posted, even though I abhor their views on everything else. If I dare respond to then saying “yeah, you’re right…” I feel almost like I have denied the faith and denied Christ. But that could be more me than anything else.
Re your number 6: Erick Erickson here on WSB (talk) radio in Atlanta a few days ago said that he believes the conservatives have more progressive friends than do progressives have more conservative friends. He also stated that he believes that conservatives practice “community” more than progressives. Not sure if it’s just his own observation or some poll he was referring to…I didn’t listen to the whole broadcast.
So if he is right about community amongst conservatives, where have conservatives transitioned from community to tribalism? Seems to me that conservatives are more apt to believe and propagate conspiracies, but again that’s my own observation.
/end train of thought.
To be honest, it’s really hard for me.
I have a reputation among those who know me in real life as someone who you really don’t want to make mad…and you really don’t want to mess with my loved ones.
I have justified all manner of sin because I wrote it off as being just my personality.
My godson is very vulnerable to manipulation and nonsense…and someone in the family was filling his head with bizarre conspiracy theories that caused him great anxiety.
I wanted to uncork on that person with every fiber of my being.
Then Jesus calls and wants to talk…
Thanks Michael for your response. I am more of an avoidance person…avoid conflict at almost all costs.
In the situation that you are confronted with…a vulnerable person at the mercy of someone who is taking advantage of that vulnerable person…well, I become a different person. The “Dan from the street” comes to life. I personally cannot take seeing vulnerable people being abused in one way or another. I have a strong drive to protect vulnerable people.
And then Jesus does call indeed. Sometimes He calls us to take a TIME OUT more than anything else.
I tend to go scorched earth when it’s cats or kids…then scorch it again.
I calmed down a lot because I was so sick…but as I regain strength I notice I’m regaining less pleasant things as well…
Jesus calls me often, too, on my need to be right. My new catch-phrase for casual conversation is “that’s interesting.”
That works…because once someone is convinced about this stuff you can’t unconvinced them.
Like everything else…you have to love them back to reality…
My “catvh phrase:” could be. … But i’m thinking, i doubt ot. 😇
ot??? Sigh, make that doubt IT
Part of pastoral theology is church coffee hour…
“Let me check on that…”
“Lovely, just lovely…”
No, I never heard that before…
(And then make a quick exit for a coffee refill).
Linn… Good idea. 😺
I disagree with #8. Not everyone has the gift of discernment that we think and hope that they should probably have or want them to have. Some folks naively give leaders the benefit of the doubt. While I agree the congregation has a supporting role, I believe the sole responsibility for Driscoll`s behavior rests with the man himself. But other leaders can certainly enable him. Really only God can remove this type of man from ministry. His twin partner in crime James McDonald was taken in by CC and I would think it’s probably just a matter of time where CC and Driscoll would find a mutually beneficial relationship. These leaders flock together because they are of the same mindset. Most of the congregation doesn’t have the discernment needed because these teachers are making disciples of themselves.
“2. I was shocked to see a well known “progressive”Christian advocating that unvaccinated people be denied care if they caught Covid 19….the desire to punish people who think differently is not only anti democratic, it’s anti Christ…”
This thought was a real temptation for me. I have held my tongue against an onslaught of fleshy temptation.
I will respond now as follows:
The statistics of the hospitalized and deaths from Covid since the rollout of the vaccines have been overwhelmingly experienced by the unvaccinated. In addition, the statistics of severe side effects from the vaccine are very, very small. This means the vaccines are very safe and effective.
If one has a duty of care towards themselves, family members, their neighbors, their co-workers, or their customers, then it would be negligent (i.e., a disregard of a legal duty of care) in my opinion to potentially expose those to whom you owe that duty when there is an easy, affordable and statically safe and effective preventative vaccine.
The “legal” question I ask (and by “legal” I mean according to God’s law) is what is a Christian’s duty of care towards himself as well as his fellow man? I happen to find this question an easy one to answer, but nothing surprises me anymore.
Let me conclude with this: Love of neighbor is never risk free! If you think that the law of love only applies where an action is free from all risk, you have not understood love at all.
As we speak my county has twice as many hospitalized people as Seattle with a fraction of the population.
I’m all for people getting vaccinated as I am.
There are many people who cannot take the vaccine without substantial risk…two of whom are in my family.
I would hope that love of neighbor would extend to those in such situations who already must fear the virus instead of determining that they should also lose their homes and ability to survive at all.
We know nothing of the long term effects of the vaccine…nothing.
Most people I know who won’t get vaccinated would submit to regular testing…which should be enough.
There is something vaguely sinister in my mind about forcing people to submit to survive…
Discernment isn’t necessary…there are volumes of published testimonies of his unfitness for the ministry.
I understand your thinking. I know two people who currently can’t be vaccinated due to chemo treatments. However, the majority of those who aren’t vaccinated just won’t do it because they don’t trust the government, the vaccine was too rushed, it’s a plot by the “Woke”, etc. Those are the people that, although I prayerfully try to be polite, I have very little patience for. The patience that I do have does not come from me; it comes from the Spirit of God that I daily ask to restrain my tongue (or fingers if I’m responding to something on Facebook). Many of them are healthcare workers. Both my elderly parents were recently hospitalized, and I don’t like the fact that after all the care my parents have take over the past 18 months, as well as being vaccinated as soon as they could, they might catch Delta from someone who won’t get a vaccination. (vaccinated elderly are one of the larger groups contracting COVID, even if vaccinated).
As I wrote in the main piece and comments, no one has less patience with conspiracy theories than I do.
I simply cannot come to grips with the demand to ingest something against your will ro be cast into poverty.
The people I know would gladly submit to weekly testing…and if you know anyone that has had Lyme disease you know that they have good reasons not to trust the CDC…
At least here in California, and the federal orders I have read about, weekly testing is required for those who will not or cannot take the vaccine. I think that is fair. And as for Lyme disease, I understand mistrust, but I also know it is terribly hard to diagnose, either positively or negatively. However, they are still a very small percentage of those who will not take a vaccine.
Lyme itself is not difficult to diagnose…it’s that the CDC has a very narrow range of symptoms and tests that are acceptable for diagnoses and treatment.
My godson, his brother, and their mother each had to spend three months in Germany and tens of thousands of dollars to receive treatment.
The clinic they used is booked two years in advance…Americans trying to get treatment.
There are no good or easy answers to the pandemic.
The institutions that would have to be trusted are trusted no more by half the country.
I do not believe that even minimal mitigation will be accepted by many now…at least where I live it could lead to open violence.
Our society is broken…perhaps beyond repair.
The exceptions you identified, Michael, which are valid, notwithstanding, there actually are easy answers to the pandemic, and that is vaccination. For 99% of the eligible population, the vaccine is safe and highly effective at preventing serious disease and death, and the quick mutation of additional variants.
People are playing Russian roulette with human lives and the economic prosperity and competitiveness of our country.
Again, I understand the arguments…I weighed the risk and chose to get vaccinated.
I’m not entirely convinced , nor can I be…it hasn’t been available long enough.
I simply can’t embrace forced vaccination…as a fundamental human right to choose what you put in your body.
Yes, many of the arguments against the vaccine are weak at best and outrageously stupid at worst…but idiots have rights too…
I am not calling for forced vaccination. However, it is also within the rights of employers and communities to provide businesses, employees, customers, schools, hospitals, health care providers, and other facilities with safe environments. I hope that anti-vaccers respect the rights of those who don’t want to be infected or serve as a carrier of infection.
I want to conclude the evening by clarifying that I believe all of Michael’s concerns are valid and result not from him listening to talk show gurus but from his personal research of the vaccine from credible sources. I totally respect your perspective, Michael!
I hope when the vaccines gain full authorization, not just emergency use authorization, that a whole lot more Americans will join the fight against the virus by getting vaccinated.
The Delta variant is known for propagating a very high viral load in the human body quickly after exposure, which not only leads to grater transmissibility, but it overwhelms the person’s immune system sooner than the original virus leading to more hospitalizations.
You don’t want this variant, neither you nor your loved ones.
Re: “Seems to me that conservatives are more apt to believe and propagate conspiracies, but again that’s my own observation.”
I think that it’s probably pretty even between left and right. I think people are more apt to believe and propagate conspiracies that support their own positions. Think the 9-11 Truthers, which over here were almost entirely on the left (our local Pacifica station kept it around for almost 15 year), while conspiracies like the “Sandy Hook Hoax” was almost entirely on the right.
I was going to add the stolen election hoax, but I’d have several to choose from: Trump, Hillary, or Abrams.
I think it’s human nature that if someone dislikes A, and anything bad is said about A, then it’s believed and propagated. Dr. Arnold did a good job discussing it in his post.
Anti-vaxxers seemed evenly split before the pandemic, grouped in with anti-GMO. Now seem to lean right “Medical freedom!”
As for wishing death in those that refuse, communities of color seem to be resisting or are complacent. Is there a moral dilemma here? Should it even be a moral dilemma? Feels like the anti-gay attitude from the 80s regarding HIV (weird, as one could make a similar argument about all STDs… then the overweight and those who make poor dietary choices, addicts, the poor, and so on…).
Thanks Everstudy. I do remember the Abrams stolen election accusation now…of course living in Georgia I should have remembered that one! Good point/reminder about how we perceive those we don’t like/agree with.
Everstudy, you are correct about conspiracies being on the left and right.
The 911 ones as you stated were almost completely on the left,, yet with me being a staunch republican and conservative, I found some of them compelling even though I was a huge Bush fan at the time. This wasn’t motivated necessarily by hatred toward anyone. The problem with conspiracy is that sometimes, although rare do turn out to be true and this is what makes them compelling. I still have big questions about 911.
Although I’m not here to propagate anything in particular, I do have a healthy sceptism of the prevailing narrative at times.