Blah Blah Land

“A gentle answer turns away wrath.”  Proverbs 15:1a

Written at 5:06pm, Sunday, February 26, several hours before the Oscars.  

You can fill in the blanks based upon your viewing of the Oscars or reading the headlines tomorrow.

Tonight during his/her acceptance speech for winning best _____(enter category here)______ at the Oscars, ___(enter name here)____ offended ____(enter name of offended person or group here)____.  This is just another instance in a string of offenses caused by the acceptance speeches of “winners” during award ceremonies recently.

____(enter name of enraged person here)_____ was quick to respond on ____(enter name of social media here)______ stating that this was outrageous and demanded an apology.  Instead of apologizing, ____(enter name here)____ quickly took to _____(enter name of social media here)_____ and retorted ____(enter retort here)_____.

My wife told me that if I wanted to increase my readership I should write about the Oscars tonight – especially something controversial.  I have to be honest, however, I’m tired and will be heading to bed shortly after posting this and long before the Oscars are over.  So thanks for helping finish the introduction above.

It is possible that no one said anything controversial and that no one was offended by what was said – I guess then I have egg on my face.  Of course, that is as likely as Batman vs Superman winning an Oscar for best picture, so I’ll take my chances.  Unfortunately, these spats spurred on by these speeches are just another example of art and Hollywood mirroring reality and the rest of the culture at large.

It seems more and more that we aren’t living in the magical world of La La Land but rather in the third grade playground world of Blah Blah Land.

I don’t begrudge these actors their opinions — although I wish they would set an example for our young people by using these speeches to say “thank you” at least as much as they complain.  I also don’t begrudge the people who are offended to shoot off their mouths/posts/tweets in response.

I guess that’s the beauty of freedom of speech.  But freedom of speech is different than responsible speech.

We have a responsibility to use speech wisely, compassionately, and even sparingly.  This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t speak up against injustice – exercising our freedom to remain silent can also be irresponsible.  Let’s be honest, however, that doesn’t seem to be the primary danger of the social media age.  Rather reasoned, wise, compassionate speech is shouted down in Blah Blah Land by a cacophony of angry, enraged, quick-tempered shouting.

We forget that a slow  thoughtful answer turns away anger, that a compassionate word can heal, and that this has to start somewhere – it may as well start with me, with you, with us.

I realize that some of you at this point are thinking to yourselves, “blah, blah, blah.”  This is an unavoidable danger in a piece like this.  If I’m honest, I have to confess that more often than not I get caught up living in Blah Blah Land.  I’m too quick to point the finger, shout the retort, post the FB response. But I’m tired of living in Blah Blah Land, I’m tired of hearing, “They started it!”, and I’m tired of the cacophony of unrestrained freedom of speech.

I want to live in a land where even our distinctions, our differences, our disagreements are part of a harmonious musical – not unison but harmony of distinctive voices seeking the common good for all.

Let’s start singing together.

You bring your part, and I’ll bring mine.  You bring your voice and listen carefully to the voice next to you.  Let’s move from the third grade playground world of Blah Blah Land to the magic of La La Land – where not every dream comes true, where difficult choices need to be made, but it’s all done in the magic of harmony.

Learning to Lament

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…
James 1:27

eye-609987_1280From a young age, I remember thinking to myself that real men don’t cry and that I shouldn’t be a cry baby.  I can’t say that anyone ever explicitly taught me that or even told me that — it was just understood.  Crying was a sign of weakness, of vulnerability, of being a loser, and so you didn’t cry.

But there is a time for crying, there is a time for tears, or to use the words of the psalmist, a time to lament.  A lament is a passionate crying out of grief, of pain, of sorrow.  And for the reader and obeyer of scripture it can have a special connotation of crying out to God, a plea that He would turn and hear the cry and act based upon His love and His justice.

lamentations
Biofrostartsmusic.bandcamp.com

There is a lot of talk recently about the refugee and the immigrant.  I’m not interested in this post to make a political argument one way or the other.  It’s not that I don’t have an opinion about that, and in time that opinion may find its way into one of my blogs.  But as I sat in church today (we attended University Baptist Church in Waco, TX, for the first time today; it was a great service.), I was struck by the words of one of the worship songs we sang.  It was a lament named “Rise Up” from an album named “Lamentations:  Simple Songs of Lament and Hope, Vol 1.  I would encourage you to listen to the song by clicking here before you continue reading.

As I listened to the song I was reminded that regardless of our political persuasions or opinions regarding national security, law and order, refugees, immigrants, or whatever our hearts — if we are believers in Jesus Christ — should be breaking.  We should watch the news not with triumph or anger but with sadness and tears.  As believers, we need to learn to weep, we need to learn to cry out to God, we need to learn to lament.  If our hearts are not broken over the pain in this world, then I fear that we do not have the heart of Christ or quite possibly (to use the term with which I was raised hearing in Sunday School) we may not have Jesus in our own heart.

Let us weep together, let us cry out to God, let us lament:
   May we plead that God will rise up.
   May we pray that the earth will fear the Lord.
   May we petition that God will avenge the poor.
   May we hope that God’s Kingdom will come.
      O rise up!