Flowers in the Weeds

The fear-based, hate-filled rhetoric that is currently flooding our airwaves and newsfeeds is mind-boggling. Regardless of which side of the political coin you examine, they both utilize methods that tap into the worst of us. Fear, hatred, manipulation and creating a sense of chaotic mistrust seem to rule the day.

Worse than that, much of the fear-based, hate-filled rhetoric is being championed by many within the Christian community. Again, regardless of which side of the political coin you examine.

I struggle to come to terms with that…a faith based on the two great commandments of loving God and loving neighbor has too easily embraced a platform motivated by fear, hatred and the pursuit of power.

To be honest, in response, I find myself struggling to come to terms with my own anger, hatred and rage. I have to shut down the airwaves and newsfeeds because I begin to boil over. Those who know me best can see my “fire eyes” and recognize that whatever comes next will not be helpful or loving.

There are faithful Christians on each side of the political spectrum. However, each side accuses the other of compromising their faith in order to support their candidate. And, let’s be honest, it’s true. Those supporting either political party have to make some concessions in order to sleep at night. Don’t even get me started on how troubling it is that there are only two political parties that have the platform.

I encourage followers of Jesus to read the Sermon on the Mount and spend some time in prayer before heading to the polls or filling in their mail-in ballot. After that, if you can reconcile voting for your preferred candidate, go for it. If not, remember it’s okay to not vote for either candidate. You can still cast your votes for local and state candidates. But, if at the end of the day you find yourself saying, “Well, it’s the lesser of two evils”, think about what that means. The “lesser of two evils” is still evil.

So, in order to remain in a relatively healthy mental and spiritual state, I have to shut it down. That often means going for walks and listening to skateboarding podcasts!

On this mornings walk, I made my way through an overgrown, weed-filled trail near our neighborhood. The sun was beginning to peak through the clouds. And, I found myself taking in the beauty of my surroundings. Even within the weeds, there are flowers and signs of beauty.

I was reminded of the old Five Iron Frenzy song, “Dandelions”. The lyrics remind us that God sees flowers in the weeds.

Lord search my heart
Create in me something clean
Dandelions…You see flowers in these weeds

It seems like our world is being overcome by “weeds”. I wonder what it would be like if we began to see flowers instead of weeds? I wonder what would happen if we began to turn off the angry, fear-filled, hateful noise and focused on the signs of beauty and hope that surround us? I wonder what would happen if we began to choose love over hatred, anger or fear?

It Makes Me Wonder…

There is a lyric in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” that I often find myself cynically singing when I read the paper or watch the news.

“Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it really makes me wonder”

Last night, I watched about five minutes of the Chiefs/Texans game. I have very little interest in the Chiefs or Texans because my NFL loyalties are split between the Bears and the Colts.

Anyway, I wanted to see what the opening game of the season was like. With the limited number of fans and other coronavirus-related procedures, I just wondered what football will look like this season. Not only that, I must admit that Mahomes and Watson are exciting quarterbacks to watch.

The five minutes I watched were relatively boring and uneventful.

This morning, while enjoying a wonderful cup of recently roasted Costa Rican beans from Old Crown, I watched the morning news. It seems like I had missed the controversy.

Players and coaches from both teams gathered for a moment of unity. The goal was to symbolically call us towards racial unity and equality. In reality, this is something we should all be praying and working towards. It doesn’t seem like this should be a controversial moment, right?

Well, some fans, not all the fans, but some fans were not having it. Audible boos could be heard as the players and coaches locked arms in a display of solidarity. Booing during a moment of unity, really? Let us remember, this was a limited crowd. The fact that the boo’s could be heard indicates that this wasn’t a few inebriated fans in the end zone. Again, I understand the majority of the crowd either supported, were indifferent or simply tolerated the moment. However, some audibly expressed their frustrations that these highly paid athletes would use their position to call for unity.

Texans defensive beast, J.J. Watt had this to say, “The moment of unity I personally thought was good. I mean the booing during that moment was unfortunate. I don’t fully understand that. There was no flag involved. There was nothing involved other than two teams coming together to show unity.”

As a Colts fan, I’m conditioned to root against Mr. Watt. However, on this day, I find myself standing in agreement with the man. J.J., I really don’t understand the booing either.

In some ways, the booing is unfortunate. In other ways, the booing is damning. Folks, we have lost our way.

On the eve of 9-11, some fans found it appropriate to boo during a moment of unity. The tragedy of 9-11 momentarily united our divided nation. We banded together and displayed genuine care and concern for one another.

What does it say about our nation when some are so brazenly bold as to think it appropriate to boo a moment of unity?

I suppose they were just exercising their freedom, huh? Some will attempt to deflect and say, “Well, what about all those violent protestors?” Yep, the violence displayed in some of the protests is an inappropriate expression too! But, the boo’s also reminded me why we protest.

I just don’t get it. Yet, at the same time, maybe this is a teachable moment?

Some people question why politicians, celebrities, athletes, religious leaders and others protest and keep the issues of social justice, racial justice, equality, LGTBQIA protections and other concerns in front of us.

The audible boo’s from some in the stands last night remind us that there is still work to be done. The voices that are defending those boo’s remind us that there is still work to be done.

Yes, we’ve come a long way. But there is still work to be done.

“Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it really makes me wonder”

By the way, if you want to hear an amazing cover of “Stairway to Heaven”, check out Frank Zappa’s reggae-esque interpretation of the tune on the album, “The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life”! The horn section taking the guitar solo…gets me every time!