American Ditches

When I was 14, my sister was driving a  friend to his home. I was in the back seat of her ’92 Lebaron, as she and the guy sitting in the front seat got into a very lively discussion. At some point she stopped looking at the road in front of her and she started drifting toward the shoulder where a ditch awaited us. I hollered above their two voices, “Sheila! Look out!” She grabbed the wheel and turned it hard. Thankfully, no cars were coming as we did about three donuts in the middle of the road and popped a tire, ending up on the other shoulder, near another ditch. Of course, her response was my fault (not her driving), because I freaked out causing her to freak out. If you hear her rendition of the story, she would tell you we were not even close to the ditch. Don’t listen to her. We were all going to die! That being said, it actually was my fault as my outburst caused her to react rather than merely correct. She ended up over-reacting which nearly made us end up in the opposite ditch.

This past election cycle and those over the past couple of decades have been little more than people hollering, “America! Look out; we’re headed for a ditch!” This is on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, the right and the left. What happens? America over-reacts, swerves too much, does a few donuts and ends up on the other side of the road. That’s a metaphor for the political upheaval, slander, libel, accusations of corruption, division among Americans, collusions, and the list goes on. The driver, whether there’s an R or a D at the end of their name, says “we weren’t even close to a ditch.” Meanwhile, others emphatically tell us not to believe their story. “We were all going to die.”

Here’s the thing, lately we have been getting closer and closer to both ditches. We near one and some calls out a warning, and we swerve to the other side, getting closer to that ditch, and then swerve again at the next warning, getting closer to the ditch we had swerved away from two elections ago. Then it happens again. And again.

There are relatively few middle-of-the-road drivers anymore. That’s understandable. A nice Sunday drive isn’t nearly as exciting and it doesn’t raise the adrenaline and blood pressure levels like the feeling of near-death, but on the other hand, America doesn’t have a heart attack or stroke out, but gets to live a good long time. One day we will actually fall into a ditch, whether on the right or left, and the damage will be done. Most likely, it will be damaged beyond repair. America will be totaled. Most warnings like this tend to warn people to get closer to the other ditch. I’m simply saying that the ditches are very real (both of them) and warning to avoid both.

I love Carl Trueman’s book Republicrat. I read it years ago and was excited to read a book that described my political philosophy. Another was Jesus Outside the Lines by Scott Sauls. Here are some quotes from these two men that I think all Christians should consider.

“Politics in democracy is a whole lot more complicated than either political parties or your pastor tell you it is; treat it as such–learn about the issues and think for yourself.” (Trueman, Republicrat, p. xxvi)

The Kingdom of Jesus does not advance through spin, political maneuvering, manipulation of power, or “taking a stand” for what we believe (do we ever see Jesus, or for that matter Paul or any of the apostles, taking a stand against secularJesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides society or government?). Rather, the Kingdom of Jesus advances through subversive acts of love–acts that flow from conservative and progressive values.  This is the beauty of the Christian movement. It embraces the very best of both points of view, while pushing back on the flaws, shortcomings, and injustices inherent in both. (Sauls, Jesus Outside the Lines, p. 16.)

My mother lost her daughter (before I was born) to a car accident. She didn’t drive into a ditch, but was hit by a drunk driver.  Ever since that day, she has told her children (even though we’re no longer at home) to drive safely.  America, drive safely. Be careful out there on the political highway. Pay attention to the road; turn off the radios and “news” networks. Watch the road.

As always, I’d love to hear your comments and responses.  If you like what I have to say, feel free to share; if not, feel free anyway.

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