I believe we should strip baseball of its status as our “national pastime.” The new titleholder, in my opinion, is arguing.
Want conservatives arguing about liberals? Watch Fox News. Want the opposite recipe? MSNBC will fill your plate to overflowing.
Everyone today expresses their opinion, whether they have one or not. I’ve experienced this firsthand through my own blog at naplesnews.com, “Jesus In Ray-Bans.” Some readers will go to extremes just to pick a fight with me.
One man got angry when I wouldn’t respond to his political comments. I explained my blog was not about politics but faith, and that I hoped our discussion could stay respectful and avoid acrimony.
What resulted was a continual tirade that may have lasted a month or more. He called me dishonest for not answering his political litmus test, and questioned my scriptural orthodoxy. What he didn’t realize was we actually shared not only the same theological beliefs, but also the same political affiliation as well. He was actually arguing with a man with whom he completely agreed. Amazing.
With people so eager to argue, I have begun asking what I call “the big question” to separate the men from the boys.
What is that question? I’m glad you asked: “So what are you doing to make things better?’’
I believe the answer to that question either deepens or destroys your argument. It is the difference between a true revolutionary and just a fussy curmudgeon. And if I could run for office, my first legislation would be, “If you’re not going to do something good to fix the problem, then shut up.”
Yeah, that’s why I’m a pastor and not a politician. Plus, I don’t lie convincingly.
Even though news channels are raking in the dough from their 24-hour arguments, I find it’s more valuable to look for common ground. In these dark days my goal is to be a man of “good will,” cooperating with anyone who wants to make the world a better place.
I supervise some fine folks who minister to inmates awaiting trial. Some of my favorite volunteers are from Catholic congregations, which is a little odd since I’m Protestant. As you can imagine, there are a couple of things we don’t agree on. Well, actually quite a few. Sure, we could argue over the authority of the pope and the rightful place of Mary, and develop quite a heated debate.
However, there is one thing I really can’t argue with — what they are doing.
There’s a little lady in her 80s named Ann. She comes every week to teach a catechism class for female inmates. Ann gives them a dose of theology with a heaping helping of love. She’s bubbly and infectious, and inevitably gets the women laughing ... or crying. And because of her infectious love for them, the room is always full.
One week Ann asked me if they could have a Mass. She was asking this of a Baptist boy from Alabama. I fit in a Mass about as well as home-schooling moms at a Victoria’s Secret fashion show. But how do you argue with someone who is doing good?
So I let them have a Mass. Ann was so excited, the priest was excited, the women were excited. And I have to admit, I couldn’t help but smile.
You may not think they accomplished much. You may think with all the trouble in the world, they made little difference. But now is when I ask you the question. When was the last time you went to that much trouble to encourage someone who could do nothing for you in return?
How many churches have I attended whose theology I agreed with, but they never did much to help people outside their walls? How much time, money and sweat has been poured into my own brand of “religion,” when the needs of hurting people went unmet?
Have I given up my own beliefs in the name of “tolerance”? Not on your life. Only people who don’t truly believe anything are willing to do that. True tolerance is when people can believe differently in one area, yet respect each other for the good they’re doing.
I know some “Christians” who proclaim every new pope is the next Antichrist. They’d think I was wrong to encourage people whose beliefs didn’t completely line up with their own. Likewise, I know some non-Christians who lambast every person of faith as a bigot, simpleton or hypocrite. Both of these groups have one thing in common: They’re all talk. While the critics wait for the government to fix every problem, people of faith are getting up off their “blessed assurance” and actually doing something!
For all their arguments, those who criticize have rarely hopped out of their La-Z-Boy to help anyone beyond their own family.
What if we skipped the arguing for a while and actually tried to help? Yeah, I know how naive it sounds, but there are still a few dreamers out there walking the walk rather than just talking the talk.
If you think my faith is silly, fine. Then prove me wrong and do “gooder” than me! Help the homeless, befriend the fatherless, preach to the prisoners — knock yourself out topping me and my little old Catholic ladies.
But don’t be surprised if you here me from the sidelines, cheering you on. Because no matter what you believe, if you’re doing good, I’m rooting for you!