There’s a whole lot of crappy things out there. Enough to really bring a person down.
I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from people who have shared with me their experience with really crappy churches, pastors, and theologies. When I say crappy, it’s putting it lightly. There are far too many churches, pastors, and theologies that are abusive and destructive and have caused far too much damage. These are churches, pastors, and theologies that aren’t interested in proclaiming Good News, or freeing people. Rather they are narcissistic to their core, manipulative, and destructive of people, institutions, and cultures. Those types of churches should close, those pastors should be defrocked, and those theologies should die quickly. But they persist, staying around to destroy more lives each day. I have little sympathy for those churches, pastors, and theologies.
The same can be said for partisanship. It’s extremely unhealthy and destructive. Crappy politics doesn’t give a vision of a possible future. Instead crappy politics is about smearing other people, dehumanizing people, and stinking everyone up with crappy politicians, crappy ideologies, and crappy policies. And these things are as destructive as crappy churches, pastors, and theologies. Crappy political parties deserve to be shut down, crappy politicians to be removed from any sort of influence or decision making, and crappy ideologies sent to the ash heap of history and exposed for what they were – destructive and not meant to ever be repeated.
Here’s the thing that I don’t get. We know about these crappy institutions, people, and ideas. And they persist, even while we know they are crappy. Why? Why do we assume that the crappiness has to persist? Is it because there are people so blinded by the crappiness that they can’t see it for what it is? Is it because people who follow the crappiness and support it are miserable and want others to be miserable too? Do too many think that crappiness is normal?
It’s not. I’m past the point of accommodating crappy religion and politics, crappy politicians and religious figures, and crappy ideas in the form of theology and ideology.
As followers of Jesus, we aren’t called to just put up with crappy ideas, institutions, and people. We are called to something much more difficult – to love. To love our enemies who are crappy. To love the people who willingly support the crappiness. That’s not easy. And it’s not the type of love that is mushy gushy either. It’s the type of love in which we publicly state that crappy churches and political organizations are just that – crappy. It’s the type of love in which we openly and publicly say that crappy politicians and pastors need to stop doing destructive and abusive things. It’s the type of love that openly and publicly values people over the value of the purity of ideas.
We have to stop saying that both sides are equally crappy. First off, when we think in terms of duality – where there are only two options – we all lose. The very notion that we think there are only two options is crappy and destructive. And not helpful at all. It is demeaning and dehumanizing to the very core. As if life were only about a choice between A and B. Ridiculous. Except we think this duality is normal. Nope. It’s crappy. It serves no one’s interest.
Jesus didn’t call on us to choose between the empire and the temple leadership. Because both were crappy, just in different ways. Rather, Jesus calls on followers to set the crappy aside where it belongs. To stop trying to make the crappy smell better. It doesn’t. It won’t. Leave the crappiness behind. It’s time for something better. That really shouldn’t take much honestly. To go from crappy to anything else is an improvement. And Jesus doesn’t just offer a small improvement, but rather a huge improvement. A life changing improvement. A challenging improvement. A movement away from the crappiness and into life, thriving, transformation. A move away from abuse and manipulation. A move away from narcissistic ideas, policies, people, leaders, religion, and politics. It’s a move towards Shalom. A place where we seek the image of God in others, where we love our enemies. A place where we seek out policies and practices that set people free and build people up.
Leave the crappy behind. Take up better life. Is this really even a debate? Why on earth would anyone continue to protect crappiness? Yet here we are. It makes no sense. And I don’t really want to understand it. I want it to end. No one deserves crappiness.