Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The 'Naug OR The Art of Hedonistic Apathy

Oh, it's a happy title, isn't it? But, like "Magnolia", it will all makes sense in the end (even though that film did not.)

Before we begin, I'd like to welcome Rob's blog to the blog roll here at Uncommonly Uncool. Rob was the campus minister at KCU (my alma mater), and is now in the Nashville area leading worship and writing some kickin' country tunes. His blog is good, too. Also, he loves himself some Batman.

Now, to the blog proper.

First, some definition:
  • "'Naug" is short for "inauguration".
  • "Hedonism" is the act of living for pleasure at all times
  • "Apathy" is not caring, i.e., when a teenager says, "whatever".
The 'naug is today, as you know. There is much that can be said, but I will not discuss or debate the significance of the new president. I am going to discuss the party (i.e., celebration, not political affiliation) for the new president. So, come on party people. Wave your hands in the air. In fact, you can do so as though you just don't care. Repeat until tired or until you strain something. There's a big party going on in D.C., don't you know. And, if you're a partier, it's on like Donkey Kong.

Millions of dollars will be spent on the 'naug. Some of it will be from private donors and organizations, some will be from government. I used to be of the mind that only government expenditures of this kind were outrageous, specifically to me because they are using my money, and they should show restraint. Now, even the private funds bug me. They bug me because the last thing we need is more American excess, whether it be on the backs of our citizenry or via large corporations. In this case, it's some of both, with some bailout companies and their employees donating thousands of dollars to the 'naug.

I know, I know. This 'naug a big deal. And because it's a big deal, we should have a big party, right? I'm told by the media that it's even bigger deal, this "'naug" as I call it, because of who will be 'nauged. What I've not heard from anyone in the media is pause for concern about all the money being spent. Specifically, I've not heard a thing about all the money that will not go to homeless shelters and soup kitchens, to funding clean water and vaccines for developing nations, to even you and I in the form of less tax. I hate to be a wet blanket, but please water down your comforter while you ponder just exactly how many people in the world won't eat today while politicos and hangers-on eat, drink and be merry in our nation's capitol.

We can be annoyed by those who are the voice of conscience. Possibly, you're annoyed by me at this point. But, you also know when something isn't right, right? As a people, we've come up with all kinds of reasons for our compromise of ideals. In fact, our own internal Jiminy Crickets, that insect of conscience, have been surpressed for so long, that they no longer chirp. In the church, we see this as well, where many large churches build even larger buildings, and pay their pastors handsomely for the skill of filling those large buildings. In some small churches, there is always a reason why help comes with strings, or is nonexistent, or pawned off on local civic organizations.

I have no problem with capitalism. The problem I have is this loss of integrity, which I discussed a few posts back. In our culture, the worst sin you can commit is disagreement. Well, as some of you know, I'm a sinner, a big sinner when it comes to this. I've not had a conscience-ectomy, and neither have you. We've just let accountability slip through our hands. It's time to grab it back.

I'm loving the mini series "John Adams" right now. Adams was concerned with right and wrong, and the rule of law, so much so that he defended British soldiers right before the Revolutionary War started. They couldn't find anyone else to defend them, being extremely unpopular as the British were, especially in Boston, where Adams resided. Adams was a principled man, however, and would not back down from an unpopular stance, if it was the right one.

He had no stomach for the mob mentality that sometimes so pervades free societies. He was the kind of man, it would seem, that would weep at social irresponsibility. When he stood beside George Washington as Washington was inaugurated, he is depicted as getting a little misty-eyed (at least in the series). Washington was another one of those guys that we sorely are in need of today, a humble, yet strong servant leader. Adams supported him, even though he was the loser in their contest. By they way, at that first inauguration, there was little pomp and only minor circumstance, the likes of which you will not see today, and, as selfishness knows no party, have not seen for a very long time.

The money bothers me because so much could be done with that amount of cash, and what could be done would make an inpact in thousands of lives. Our youth group recently bought a well for an African village. The cost of the well was $1650, and it will provide clean drinking water for an entire village. Considering the expense of 'naug, you could buy over 30,000 wells for half of what is being spent, and use the other half for a big party. Shouldn't that give pause? To me, this provides a moment of introspection that makes me ponder how the church allocates its resources.

Our lives need to be fueled by integrity and principle. We need to be the servant leaders that God has called us to be. We need to love both justice and mercy, and not allow the intimidation of disagreement to placate our sense of right and wrong. Adams traveled over Europe to win the hearts (and funds) of others to secure his new nation financially, at great personal sacrifce. For us God-followers, the example is to be strong and help others, and feel those needs deep enough that we sacrifice and act. So many times, doing what is right and being unpopular are the same thing. So what? As the Spike Lee film title reminds us, we must do the right thing.

Party affiliation here is not an issue for me. I'm not railing against the 'naug because of the party that will be in power. I don't think that either the outgoing or incoming presidents are evil or perfect. I don't have great allegiance to one party over another. Financial irresponsibility, however, seems to know no political party, and has been co-opted by no one. And, it's also nothing new. But, there are times when flawed men and women rise above the rabble, downplay their weakness and do what is needed. In the kingdom, we must be those people. Regardless of country, party or parties, this is what is required for showing people the Gospel. Not just telling, but showing. Regardless of what a bunch of politicans do, we need to love as Christ has loved, and not lose our idealism about how to do that. As Journey sings, "don't stop believin'".


Scott Baker said...

Exactly Right! Well Said! Thanks for these words of wisdom.

I have always thought the same thing when it comes to the money spent on campaigns. What if that money was put to a different use other than creating half truth type adds.

What if a candidate chose to buy some wells or providing housing for a year for some homless folks? That kind of publicity would be priceless and make a larger impact.

People would flock to see a candidate like that, one who was really making an impact in the community rather than talking about it.

The problem is it sounds to much like what Jesus would do.

And if you are one of those people who say, "Yes, that is the way it should be." Then see if you are doing it yourself as one of many who make up the church.


Ritchie said...

I prefer the "naug" with the egg in it over the one yesterday.

Oh, and John Adams was a great president. We could really use someone like him right now.