“I disagree with you but I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler”
“Civil is Sexy”
“My Opinions Change with New Information”
“God Hates Figs—Mark 11:12-14”
“If your beliefs fit on a sign…Think harder.”
Leave it to John Stewart and Stephen Colbert to prove that Americans can indeed be funny, civil, creative, and optimistic when it comes to political discourse. As I scrolled through pictures of smiling people carrying homemade signs at Saturday’s Rally to Restore Sanity I thought to myself, “Now this is my party. I’m so glad we’re finally getting some airtime.”
The brilliance of the rally lies in the fact that irony is just about the only way to make moderation interesting. The media loves extremism—whether it’s religious, social, political, or consumerist. An obscure pastor of a 50-member congregation in Florida gets hours of coverage for threatening to burn the Koran because it’s simply more interesting than a middle-aged guy sitting in his armchair thinking, “Well that seems a little unreasonable.”
But a guy holding a sign that says “Well that seems a little unreasonable”?
Now some have said that the rally failed to represent moderates because it seems to have drawn more liberals than conservatives. But moderation isn’t a position; it’s an attitude. It’s not about being located right in the middle of the liberal/conservative continuum; it’s about holding your opinions loosely and with a sense of humor. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are all capable of this, and I suspect that there are plenty of conservatives who identify as moderates but who (for whatever reason) are not Jon Stewart fans.
I may get into some trouble for this, but I would venture to say that as followers of Jesus whose first allegiance belongs to the Kingdom of God, moderation is a healthy way to approach American politics. Evangelicalism in particular has gotten so intertwined with conservativism that some have tried to correct the problem by franticly jumping to the other extreme, turning to liberal politics and habitual America-bashing to state their case.
But I am convinced that Christians in America can appreciate their country without worshipping it, be politically engaged without being politically consumed, and hold opinions about healthcare and the economy without insisting that God agrees. We can be civil because we know that people are infinitely more valuable than positions. We can be calm because we know that love will win in the end. We can laugh because we’re neither threatened nor dazzled by power.
Earthly kingdoms come and go. Our loyalties and best efforts belong to that which is eternal.
Of all people, we should be the least susceptible to fear…and the most willing to laugh at it.
Do you consider yourself a moderate? What did you think of the Rally to Restore Sanity? What was your favorite sign? (I kinda love "God hates figs!")