Monday, November 9, 2015


I have a confession to make. I don’t think I should have to make this confession, because making one’s confession has a tinge of admission that one is in some way guilty of something. I’ve already learned by being a Christian in an indifferent and sometimes anti-Christian culture, that confessing Christ, that is, admitting that I am a Christian and that I intend to live like one regardless of the consequences, has made me an evangelical criminal, yes, guilty of the gospel, guilty of spoiling a very, very bad party that’s going on around me by interjecting a bit of good news. Not ‘Jesus loves you and so do we,’ which is essentially religious litter, but simply by being there, being present, with a smile, an encouraging word, or, if need be and I am capable of it, substantial help. All of these are forms of a love not blabbed but borne, sometimes a cross carried not just worn. Enough of bumper stickers and stereotypes. They’re bad enough. But if you’re with Christ, people around you know. They know in advance whether to love you or hate you. So much for being a Christian convict in a nihilistic prison.

But that’s not the confession I have to make. No, it’s much worse than being a Christian in a secular, (anti-) humanist neighborhood. No, I have to confess that I am a Republican. That’s similar to a publican, except twice as bad, especially if you’re a flaming red in a blue state. ‘Ugh! Who let him in here?’ people’d gasp when I walked into a room, whether at my former job where I was a pariah, a terror, and an embarrassment to my boss and co-workers, even when I didn’t open my mouth—which I almost never did, except as stated above, ‘with a smile, an encouraging word,’ or the like—and, now that I’m retired, when talking to almost anybody, whether in church or out, friend or foe. Even when, after the truth about me is out and discussed to a door nail, and I’ve qualified my republicanism by stating that I do not support any particular party platform, but that I am a quasi-anarchist, and being a Republican is just part of family tradition, red hating hearts muffled for the moment soon break out once again against me, pinning my scurvy, red unworthiness to the door jamb with the same rusty nails.

‘It’s not easy being green,’ croons Kermit the Frog, who makes me feel less alone when faced with that room full of blue-necks who may smile and say they love me, but have itchy trigger fingers when it comes to me mentioning any dissatisfaction with anything they believe is blue in origin. They completely miss the point that they are just as racist as the whites who reluctantly let a negro join them on a Lake Michigan beach just weeks after desegregation took effect in Chicago. They might be forced to accept the fact that he’s there. They might even be friendly to him there on the beach or anywhere they meet him where they wish he weren’t, as long as they could make some capital out of him, either in real money, or in bolstering their façade of liberality. Well, me, I’m a Republican, a red, in a Democratic, a blue state—pardon me! a correction. My state is actually a red state, but the metropolis that outnumbers everyone else here is true blue, and so the state gets a good bluing on any map that isn’t broken down by counties. It makes me wonder, do blues get treated this way in a red state?

The funny thing about names is that they’re often very misleading, and sometimes dead wrong, the opposite of what they claim to stand for. ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag… and to the Republic for which it stands…’ is a snippet of a larger declaration that is overloaded with ambiguous names and terms. I remember when, as a child, I asked my Dad if America was a democracy. He replied that, no, it wasn’t, that it was a Republic, which is something quite different. In college I majored in History and Political Science, and there I learned the fine print of all the terms used in politics. With the preacher who penned the book of Ecclesiastes, I had to exclaim, ‘Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!’ Yes, as English poet Alexander Pope ranted, ‘A little learning is a dangerous thing,’ I have found this to be the only verifiable truth about popular politics in this or any state, and as a red man in a blue landscape, well, one can’t help being targeted. There. Have I ragged enough on this? Have a dwarfed myself once again in self-pity?

I confess, I am a Republican. My heroes are Abraham Lincoln and the national poet Walt Whitman, two men who on the outside couldn’t be more different from each other. Yet, in spite of what others have tantalized about each of them, they really were what they seem to be if you can brush aside that whole plethora of names and categories. They were both about freedom, and responsibility. They both were lovers of mankind, who loved not only their people and their country, but all peoples and lands. Their concept of government was a structured anarchy that these United States originally held to. They both held autocratic and bureaucratic tyranny in abhorrence. They both regretted America’s failings and failures. Each in his own way evangelized the nation by word and example. Evangelized not for Christ and Christianity, for the nation at that time was confessedly Christian. The evangel of Lincoln and Whitman was, it’s time for the country to finally do what Christ commands, and not just say they believe.

Here’s a few more words from my red, Republican mouth. Being a Republican is not being a partisan at all. It’s being an American, one for all, and all for one. It’s taking the best we can find and making something better of it. It’s following the Ten Commandments, even if we can’t say that’s what we’re doing. It’s wanting to make things better for everyone, not improving the life of one group at the expense of robbing another. It’s being honest, telling the truth, and undoing the damage done by those who do the opposite. It’s letting everyone have the same rights and shoulder the same responsibilities. Being a Republican, if it were in my power to do so, I’d change the national anthem from the glorious Star-Spangled Banner (and yes, I love it and believe it glorious) to the song ‘If I Had a Hammer.’ Singing this should bring the blood to people’s faces, cheer and encourage their hearts, bring brotherly love back within reach, and heal America by the best medicine there is, working together day by day, making it again ‘the land of the free, and the home of the brave.’

‘If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning…’

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