Monday, November 26, 2012

My opinion - polotics in the church, part 1

  I've been told I'm very opinionated. I am very opinionated, and I know it.  I try not to be a nuisance, but if you open the door, I just may walk through it.  A few times I've had the bull-headed audacity to barge through on my own, but that is not what I wish to do today.  Sometimes it is best to sit quietly while someone else tries to pull you into a debate. There is a time and place for everything, and the right of free speech must be tempered with the command of "guard thy tongue!" 
 Such was the case a couple weeks ago, when I busied myself about the shop where I work. I had a sweater on, for the day was chilly.  The store - a local whole food and supplement health store - was warm and inviting, though I didn't take much time to look around as I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed some boxes and a box knife, and proceeded in putting away the frozen goods just in from the delivery truck (Wednesday is our order day).
 A middle-aged gentleman opened one of the glass freezer doors and pulled out a 5-grain sprouted loaf of bread, and my co-worker - a girl about my age - offered a cheerful "hello!"  I chimed in with a "how are you this morning?"
 "Oh... well... I'm not in a very good mood, but I have the ability to make myself appear happy despite that."  (Keep in mind I where I work - we get all kinds there! - so I've grown pretty accustomed to diverse responses.)  Knowing that this was, after all, the day after presidential elections, and the nation was full of mixed emotions, the young lady next to me asked, "Oh, is it because of the election?"
 "No, no, not the election. What the heck, I like Obama. I just don't like all this crap it took to get this election done and over with!"  I nodded, and agreed at least that each party was guilty of this "crap," as he called it, and as I am slightly inclined to believe myself.
 "I mean, look at what id did to me.  It turned me into an old geezer!  Look, I'm a geezer!"

 "Well," I said diplomatically, though I admit a bit amused. "If it's any comfort, I wouldn't have guessed that you were." 

Politics in the "Moses days" were indeed
much different than now, but I still found
this comic quite funny.
 He mumbled and shuffled away.  My co-worker and I grinned at each other, but I couldn't help but over-think our short dialogue. (I know, I know, one isn't supposed to take some disgruntled fellow too seriously, but this time I did.)  This apparent "geezer-generator," more commonly known as campaigning and political ploys, which he so dislikes, is indeed a drag that consumes far too much money, but if he would rather the alternative - restriction of freedoms - that is an opinion he is entitled to... but maybe he shouldn't use freedom of speech to voice that.  Or perhaps we should be looking over his shoulder and telling him which loaf of bread he needs to buy, or if he's just wasting his money buying bread at all.  But, after all, that is simply my opinion.
 Our geezer was needing to get a few things off his chest that day, and we saw him conversing with multiple other people, flailing his hands and shaking his head, all in his muffled, masked, "happy" mood. 
 I was nearly finished, and was breaking down the empty cardboard cases when he shuffled by again, hoping to get a last word in, I imagine.
 "You know what it is?" he asked. "The church and state. That is where all of our trouble comes from here."
 I raised my eyebrows. "Is that so?" I asked, trying to remember that I wasn't to be making enemies with the customers.
 "Yes it is!" he returned. "I remember, 1981 in Vegas. I was there when Reagan drove by in his car waving at the crowds. I was right there with my camera, and he drove right past me. It was right there when the Church entered the State! It's all gone down-hill from there."
 "Right then?"
 "Yep, right then in 1981. Before then, church stuck to its own business."
 I really had to say something about that! Throwing caution to the wind wouldn't win any arguments, and I had to remember that I really didn't want to argue with him.  Still, I had to show him I had some opinion.
The crossroads. Where do they
meet? Where do they separate?
 "Oh, I don't know about that," I started, with a small grin on my face. "Quite a few of the old-folks in my church remember election-day sermons." I bit my tongue to keep from saying more. That wasn't even the best come-back.  I wanted to shoot one bullet after another. Questions like "so you think Reagan was the only/first one to integrate politics and religion? What about our founding fathers, like Washington, Madison, and Lincoln, who prayed in public, designated Christian holidays, and included the Bible in their speeches, and implored the people to seek God's forgiveness? Did you know that Thomas Jefferson wrote that a nation not founded on God and His Word would not stand? Did your history books tell you that the very idea of the Separation of Church and State was only a de-contextualized fragment in one of Washington's private letters to a friend? Why do you think that the Church is a bigger part of State legislation than before? Would you propose to exclude all religious expression from political endeavors and bias for judicial guidelines? (All that, except for atheism and/or humanism, or whatever his religious beliefs were, of course.) Did he only chose Reagan because he was only old enough to experience that, and therefore he chose to relate to that first and foremost?

 I know, I know, I get riled up rather easily about these things. I should've just listened to him, asked him more questions, and kept my mouth closed. As it was, he went away mumbling, much as Eeyore would have, I suppose.  I also understand that it really isn't fair at all for me to pick on poor Mr. Geezer like this, catching him in a bad mood and all, and really not exchanging many words - or at least not nearly enough to understand him by.  It is rather low to attack a man who does not know he is being attacked, but I really only meant to bounce my opinion off of an experience that got me thinking... what is the balance of Church and State?

My Opinion on the matter... coming next.

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