For maybe the last month or so, I’ve had an increasing urge to avoid news, especially political news. Television, radio, internet, newspaper, you name it, I have grown tired of it and run away from it as fast as I can.
This is unusual for me because one of my passions is politics. I used to work in the Texas legislature. Now, if you have heard any bad things about the Texas Legislature, they are most likely true. It is conservative, hard-hearted (in Texas terms, George W was a compassionate conservative.), dominated by special interests, and often mean, petty and venal. However, I worked in and around it for over twenty years and loved doing it. My biggest thrill was researching various policies and getting to be a small part of the state legislative process. My interest in policies and politics not only continued when I went into the ministry but it intensified because I was able to see first-hand the impact of government on people.
As Republican policies took hold in our state, it often angered me to see the miserly turn an already miserly government took. It was crushing to see Texas health and human services get worse. How could that happen? Legislators seemed oblivious to the human toll that their budget cutting took. The hardest hit were poor children. Over the last decade, they have seen a reduction in speech, occupational and physical therapy services; their schools were the first to lose programs and teachers; and, their parents often failed to qualify for needed medical services. Needless to say, no state policy was adopted with the aim of truly reducing poverty.
Politics is important. Now, my interest has run into the Donald Trump phenomenon and been flattened by it. His jingoism, bigotry, fear-mongering, and demeaning comments are like catnip to news organizations. Good God, he covers the news world. He made the news today for having a Muslim woman removed from one of his rallies for apparently standing in silent protest. There is no need enumerating his long list of repugnant comments and actions.
Early in the gospel of Mark, in chapter 1, verse 25, Jesus tells an unclean spirit to, “Be silent.” That Greek word that biblical interpreters translated as “be silent” or “be quiet” can also be translated as, “Shut up!” In other words, Jesus commands the unclean spirit to “Shut up!”
I pray for the day when news organizations and the American voters command Trump or whatever unclean spirit that inhabits him to “Shut up!” And, he has to because he has been defeated. Meanwhile, a lowly Methodist pastor may not be able to do much more than this, but I will do what I can in joining millions of others to hasten the coming of that day.