pastoral leadership

Give Us Nuance, or Give Us Death!

“Give me liberty, or give me death!” said Patrick Henry in a famous speech in 1775 that helped ignite the American Revolution and the founding of this nation. In 2020, with a nation divided by ideologies and the masses unable to engage in a good natured civil dialogue, I want to yell from the rooftops, “Give us nuance, or give us death!”

We have traded principles for power-plays. We have traded informed debate for sloganeering and opponent smearing. We have embraced the myth that the big issues are black and white, when reality is usually various shades of grey. (I highly recommend the book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. Here’s a review.

We have lost nuance. We need more nuanced positions and conversations if we are going to survive this moment.

Of course, there is no such thing as an unbiased position. We all lean right, left or middle of the road. But there are places where you can find good, well-informed, civil discussions and more constructive analysis on the hot button topics. Not on cable news! Not on Facebook! These are nuance-free spin zones. We Christians need to stop chewing and swallowing what these simplistic, un-nuanced outlets are feeding us.

Now, I don’t pretend to be unbiased or “in the middle” on political issues. But I am a thought-leader whose central calling is to teach the Kingdom and help Christians to think more biblically about the issues of the day.

So, I want to recommend some places I go each week to engage with the issues of the day. These sources have their own political bent, for sure. But you will hopefully find them wrestling with issues in a more nuanced and fair way. Feel free to disagree with their conclusions, but I hope they bring more light than the darkness of cable news and social media outlets.

Let me recommend today The Dispatch which leans conservative but with their heads on. I really enjoy their podcast. I also recommend this challenging message by Brian Zahnd called, “Jesus and the Vilified Other” that speaks to our tribalism and tendency to find a common “scapegoat” to blame, rather than listening to the other.

Once again, I plead, “Give us more nuance in our public discourse, or it may be the death of our nation as we know it.” And let followers of the Christ keep their ears tuned to the frequency of the Holy Scriptures above the rest of the noise:

“You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires….If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless” (James 1:19, 26).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph 4:29).

Let all who have ears to hear, listen and follow King Jesus.

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