Well, we (almost) did it! A whole week with posts (almost) every single day! Way to go team! I'm not sure if I'm more impressed with me for writing them, or more impressed with you for actually reading them. Wait no, it's absolutely you.
When I had to commute to seminary each and every day, I was a big fan to the Dianne Rehm Show on NPR. She had wonderfully awesome guests, asked them good questions, and was ruthless when she felt like someone was trying to give her the business. Also her voice was super confusing to me! On one hand I would catch myself thinking "There's no way she has that voice and works in radio!" and then seconds later think "There's absolutely nothing else she could do with a profession! She's made for this!" It was...confusing.
The best was always on Fridays driving home from Hebrew or Greek, getting the Friday News Roundup. At ten she would do the domestic side of things, and then at eleven we'd get the international news. Dianne and a panel would work through the week's news and give comments and insights to it. Since Dianne has retired, I thought the news roundup was something that the world sorely missed, and so I'm excited to announce that I, Jason Freyer, will step into the void and offer a weekly Friday News Roundup.
A few disclaimers before we get going: 1) These opinions are my own. I recognize that anytime we bring in politics from the perspective of organized religion things can get dicey. So I'm not making suggestions for the way any of the rest of us view the world, just trying to offer a unique perspective on things.
2) That said, I'm not even close to interested in a political/newsy conversation that doesn't have some sort of baring on the Kingdom of God. Trust me, I'm a political junkie of the highest order. I'm a nerd. If you're still reading, chances are you're a nerd too. But we're not here to blindly assert positions, chastise folks who see the world differently than we do, call names, or be obnoxious. If that's something you feel compelled to do, by all means there are about a thousand posts on Facebook you should feel free to hijack. Here, we're interested in talking about how we live as Christians in America, and how the choices we make politically impact the Kingdom. Debate that strays from that will be lovingly set on fire and kicked to the curb.
Ok, so all that out of the way...what's been going on in the news lately?
Actually, quite shockingly, there hasn't been much going on. No Muslim Bans. No protest marches. No major confirmation hearings. Perhaps this is a chaotic political season starting to wind down (DEAR SWEET JESUS I CAN ONLY HOPE THAT'S TRUE!), or perhaps we just had a bit of an off week. But this story caught my attention as something worthy of discussion:
This is fascinating to me on a couple of levels. First of all, I have done woefully little research into the theological question of transgender individuals, so I'm not really qualified to talk about the specifics of that one way or the other at the moment. What I do know is that as a Christian, my job is to love people. I am specifically commanded to look after the "least of these." That's not just a nice idea, that's a command from God. However you want to look at it, phrases like "roll back protections" seem to expose the least of these to a, well, lack of protection, no? And doesn't that seem extremely un-Christian? We may disagree with their lifestyle, we may disagree with (what we see as) their choices, but why should we be in such a hurry to roll back protections and leave students exposed?
And that there is the more telling question of this story: What's the big hurry? If you read the New York Times piece linked above (By the by, that's a requirement before you can comment. Anyone who clearly hasn't done the reading will have their comments deleted. I don't have many rules, but that's one) you'll see that Secretary DeVos wasn't so sure about this yet, but Attorney General Sessions wanted to get it done. Where, I have to ask, has our ability to debate ideas gone? What I see here more than anything is a continuing harding of the party line. If you're not with us, you're against us, and while we're in power we're going to shove our perspective down your throat. (By the by part two: if you are a liberal and you cheered that last line, you should know you've been awfully guilty of this too).
This is Ronald Regan, and Tip O'Neil. Regan was and in a lot of ways still is the model of Conservative Republican President. O'Neil was the Liberal Lion Speaker of the House while Regan was President. I was pretty young, so I don't have a whole lot of first hand experience with this, but my read of history is that these gentlemen were able to set aside differences, sit in a room together, and work out compromises. I bet Regan would tell you he never got everything he wanted. I bet O'Neil would say the same. But things got done. And truth be told, we had it pretty good in the 80s all things considered.
I am an independent. I am affiliated with no party. I certainly have leanings and opinions, but I do not ever subscribe lock stock and barrel to a talking point. You have no idea how much I wish there was room for civilized honest debate in our country. You have no idea how much I wish the parties were more focused on the good of the nation than they were in winning the next election, getting exactly what they want, representing the "real" conservatives or the "real" liberals. Why is there a rush to roll back these protections for transgender students? Because we are incapable of the debate. And the nation is hurting as a result.
That said, if you want to chime in on the round up today, feel free! But do yourself a favor before you post and do a quick "sound byte" check. Is this verbiage you are simply parroting back? Or is this a honest to goodness attempt to understand someone else's point of view? Is it an attempt to beat someone up for their view point? Or is it an honest attempt to clear up confusion? There's a big difference. If we're going to have the debate, we owe it to ourselves to have a good one.
More to come when there's more, you know, news.