Whether the issue is stem cell research, health care, or the economy, my hunch is that more than a few of us are getting our own talking points by listening to those who make a living attacking rather than listening to, or trying to find common ground with, their political opponents.
Is it possible that even though some of us think of ourselves as followers of Christ, what we are really full of is talk radio (or TV)?
I agree that some of the non-stop political rappers are entertaining, intelligent, articulate, and sometimes morally insightful. But many are also anything but wise…
There’s a proverb that says, “The first one to plead his cause seems right, Until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).
Yet from the left, and the right, talk radio (and TV) too often spends its time building straw arguments, taking quotes out of context, adding spin, and parading itself as the voice of the people.
In spite of these tendencies, “talk” has an important role and responsibility. Political debate is essential. Any group or individual left to themselves, or not held accountable, will end up going to one extreme or another. That’s true in our personal lives and churches as well.
But for the truth to surface, we need to listen to one another– not just to refute the other, or to find a “slip up” that helps us to defend our own position– but to find an approach to the truth that is also wise.
What if we were known not just by “the talk”, but by a wisdom that, according to the half-brother of Jesus, is first “pure (motive), peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17-18).
James makes his point after expressing concerns over fires of conflict that are fueled by religious and moral talk that sounds good while being marked by attitudes and actions that insult and hurt those who are not like us (chapter 2). In chapter 1, he encourages his readers to be quick to listen and slow to speak (v 19), and adds, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless (26).
Admittedly, the talk hosts getting most air-time don’t claim to be religious. But they do use language that plays to the religious sentiments of which ever side of the political aisle they are appealing to.
James went on to say, “The tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” (James 3:5).
As partisan politics, and even the administration, gears up to attack or defend “the talkers”, might be a good time to ask where the wind in our own sails is coming from, and whether we are moving in a direction that isn’t just right (or left) but, wise…