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Wise Words #1

I’m oft reminded of the wise words I’ve come to memorize and live by over my life. (I’ll post wise sayings every now and then.)These sayings, for whatever reason, have exploded in my mind and I will never forget them. Today’s wise words are from one of my heroes, Martin Luther King, Jr.

“In the end, it is not the words of our enemies that we will remember; it is the silence of our friends.”


Crooked Speech

Okay, so when I’m not blogging, I blog, and when I am blogging, I don’t write a thing. Funny thing. 

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If you live in the U.S., you’ve probably been paying attention — at least on some level — to our national politics. In two weeks we’ve had a historic nominee and political convention, a close-to historic VP selection, a teen-pregnancy revelation, trooper-gate, questions about vetting, and another political convention. No matter your political leanings, you have to admit that there’s much happening.

The folks on the station I watch for news are just giddy with excitement about all things political. They speak about how “exciting” and “fun” it all is. Boldly they say their station is “The Place for Politics.” And if you know me well, you know that I enjoy my share of politics. But, I must say, about this time every four years, I would describe politics as anything but “fun.” 

While politics does have the ability to bring out the best in us, what I see so frequently is the worst of us. Watching one political interview after another might give someone the feeling that no one on the other side of the interviewee is ever worth voting for. Strategists and current and former elected officials talk ad nausuem about why “not” to vote for the other guy. It’s about muslim-sounding names, someone’s age or lack thereof, someone’s daughter, or what someone did 35 years ago that may or may not have any bearing on the next 35 years. What’s more, at one convention you can see Christian folks carrying signs with pictures of dead Iraqi children, and at the other we see other Christians with pictures of dead fetus’. Both groups are shouting about the unrighteousness of the other, largely in denial about the self-righteousness in themselves. They shout and say the most hideous and ugly things about the others. And when pressed on any issue, all either group can say is how the other is filled with “hate.”

It makes me wonder how many of these well-meaning Christian people have ever noticed how much attention the Bible gives to speech acts? Do we know how precious words are? As N.T. Wright points out, “Words Create Worlds.” God created the universe with words. Jesus came to the world as the Word made flesh. Scripture is deeply concerned about the way we talk. “No evil talk. No vulgar talk. No bearing false witness or meaningless talk. Let your speech always be gracious.” Sound familiar?  

Yet, politicians — both left and right — talk about faith and Christianity and family values, but some give speeches that are little more than smear and fear and lies about their opponents. But what if Christians took speech acts as seriously as God does? What if when some politicians just railed with contemptible speech against their opponent, we considered them “malcontents” and “grumblers” as Jude does? What if we made our leaders live up to “truthful speech” as Paul highlights as important in 2 Corinthians? What if we made wholesome speech a qualification for president, vice-president, and all those sent to speak on their behalf had to answer for it. Do you think there are enough voting Christians in the country that we might effect a change in the way we talk to one another? 

Somehow slowly too many of us have come to accept poor speech. In fact, we expect it! Sometimes we want it. And we really want it when it helps meet our needs for power and expand our ideology. Yet, the truth remains a transformed life is partly witnessed to by transformed and transforming speech.

There is no law we can enforce or war we can wage to transform this nation into the “Christian Nation” so many seem to desire as long as our governance and processes for governance are marred by what Proverbs calls, “crooked speech.” Let us not forget that when God searches Israel for a King to replace Saul, he finds David, who was “prudent in speech;” or as some versions put it, “has good judgment.” There is a connection between the way someone speaks and the judgment he or she exercises.

So, this week, I’ve taken a political fast. No political TV or radio. I’ve grown weary of hearing about who’s really puts country first and who’s identity is overly shaped by and lustful for war. Plus, I’m sensing the darkness that comes when someone is too immersed in negative and contemptible talk. The apostle Paul encourages us to avoid “profane chatter” because it “spreads like gangrene.” I think he’s right. And I don’t need to be sick right now!

Graciousness

One of the things I try hard to do, and often fail at, is  to be gracious. I think it’s important to steadily treat people with the grace that God gives me.

If you’re wondering why it’s important to be gracious, just check out Tiki Barber’s interview with Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning at MSNBC.com. Barber left the Giants in the off-season because he didn’t believe in coach, Tom Coughlin, and was very critical of Eli Manning, saying he didn’t have what it took . In part he said of Eli…

“He hasn’t shown [ability to lead],” Barber said on the broadcast. “His personality hasn’t been so that he can step up, make a strong statement and have people believe that it’s coming from his heart.

“Last year about Week 12, I turned over the offensive motivational speech to Eli and he was gung-ho to do it, but he was uncomfortable doing it. I think a lot of it had to do with vets being around – myself, Jeremy Shockey, Plaxico Burress. He didn’t feel like his voice was going to be strong enough and it showed. Sometimes it was almost comical the way that he would say things.”

Tiki has spent the year working for Football Night in America and The Today Show. Last night, not only did Tiki have to watch the team he left upset the New England Patriots, but he had to interview them after the game.

This is a reminder to me to always speak graciously of others…

77% Dixie!

Here’s a little fun for your weekend!

My brother sent me an e-mail forward – which I usually hate – but for some reason I followed the link on this one. It was the “Yankee or Dixie Quiz”. Basically, you answer a set of questions about words and pronunciations you us and at the end it spits out a score.

Apparently, I’m 77% Dixie! That means I’m pretty heavily southeastern. That stands to reason given that I’ve only lived in Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. If you get a chance, you should click over and see what you are. It’s pretty fun!

Things I Shouldn’t Say (don’t think less of me).

For the sake of integrity, I feel that every now and then I should share my spiritual weaknesses with you all. It’s true. I am not perfect. There are many areas in life in which I struggle. One of those areas is coveting.

And you better believe that after watching Steve Jobs’ keynote at MacExpo this week, I am in full coveting mode over the new iPhone. Now you should know, the “iPhone” name won’t stick. My best information is that another company does, and has for a while, own the trademark name “iPhone.”

But who cares what it’s called? This phone is the most amazing device I’ve ever seen and I want one NOW! My coveting is so deep that I actually thanked God that I had already decided to switch my cell service to Cingular in June when my contract with another carrier is over. I truly felt that the end of my contract, the fact that I was going to buy a new iPod this summer and the release of the iPhone all in June was providential. How crazy is that?

And on a lighter side, I usually detest celebrity news but I’m loving the Trump vs Rosie feud. Before Rosie got off her blasts against Trump and his hair (which she released simply because he gave a troubled girl a second chance) I never really cared for either, but I’ve gotta say, “I’m loving The Donald right now.” Rosie picked a fight that she can’t win. She thought she was being funny by making fun of Trump for no real reason and he unleashed a brutal attack on her. The smack that he is laying on her – and Barbara Walters now too – has been classic. She showed up for a gunfight with a rubber knife and she’s getting her clock cleaned. Yesterday Trump called her a “third-rate comedian” and that Barbara said, “working with her was like a living hell.”

Wow!

Now, I’m not on Donald’s side because of the mean things he’s said (things that shouldn’t have beens said about anyone), but rather because Rosie has a history of shooting off her mouth, saying hateful and hurtful things about people. It was just a few weeks ago that for no reason at all she called Kelly Ripa homophobic . And apparently, I’m not the only person who thinks that Rosie has created this herself. I’m not saying that she deserves this or that getting torn up in the media is good. But it seems like the majority of Americans might.

We live in a politically correct culture where anyone who called someone else “fat, ugly, disgusting, etc…” would hear from every circle that he or she needed to apologize–and they would need to. But in this case there’s been no calls to apologize. No one has said anything. Why? Because it’s Rosie. The majority response has been the sound of one hand clapping. It’s almost like people are saying, “Yeah, that’s Rosie!” If Trump had called anyone else “disgusting” he would have had serious consequences, yet in this case, everyone just seems to be happy to watch the daily furor.

I think there’s a lesson here about being a person who speaks words of grace about and to others. When you become known for attacking other people simply because you don’t like them or you don’t like their perspective or politics (and Rosie has launched vicious attacks on people who stand opposed to her politics) then there aren’t going to be a lot of people in line to defend you. And when you dishonor people, some people will dishonor you in return.

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