This election stuff is getting to me. I find myself turning off the radio, avoiding television, and skipping over a lot of FB posts. I have known for many months which candidates are going to get my vote and I am done with the political propaganda. Unfortunately, some things still get through like Romney’s promise to make hospital visitation rights of gay family members an issue for states to settle. Isn’t there a reason why Obama signed the bill to allow gay partners and parents visitation rights instead of letting states determine such things? Or, worse, Mr. Mourdock’s statement that a child resulting from rape or incest is the will of God. Does he really believe this or is it just so he doesn’t have to admit that there are circumstances in which a woman should have the right to choose abortion? And really, why is abortion still an issue in this election? What drives this need to turn back time?
Strangely, two not so political news articles might point to answers. One story was about the success of the game Tetris. I am a huge Tetris fan. My wedding even had a Tetris theme. It is a very compelling game. The author suggested that Tetris taps into a deep need for order. Maybe so. But I think that the desire to return to a time with clear moral answers might be part of what drives current US politics. The idea that abortion is always the wrong choice or that pregnancy is always the will of God or that being gay is a sin is somehow appealing in these uncertain times. Moral ambiguity is disquieting and candidates who seem more inclined to repeat history than to risk progressing into the future might feel like a safer bet.
We like order and predictability as much as we like what is familiar. Of course, this is fine for Tetris but not so great in politics. (For the full Tetris article, see http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121022-the-psychology-of-tetris)
The second news story that might shed some light on the media mess this election season tells about Clark Kent quitting his job. Apparently, Superman is dissatisfied with the pursuit of entertainment over journalism. Sure, it might be more complicated than that, but for a super hero who is always on the side of Justice, how could he not quit? Shouldn’t news be more than entertainment in print or on the web? Wouldn’t it be nice if real life news agencies could get this idea. MSNBC? FOX? I applaud Superman for taking a stand. I’d hope that more people would not be swayed by the exaggerated and distorted reporting and advertising of this political campaign. We can play Tetris and read Superman comics for entertainment. Our politicians and reporters should try facts over biased opinions more often. (For one of the Superman stories, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20050483)
Now what does Tetris and Superman have to do with the lectionary? On the surface, nothing much. But look a little deeper. This week’s readings are all about restoration and mercy. Job and Bartimaeus experienced restoration; they returned to a state much like they had previously experienced. They got this by standing up for themselves, challenging the status quo.
This is where we leave Tetris and Superman behind and enter reality. In today’s world where so very little can be said to be absolutely right or completely wrong, we can learn much from both Job and Baritmaeus. First, Job stood his ground. He did not back down. Eventually, with humility, he recognized the limits of his understanding and God had mercy on him and restored him, and then some. Bartimaeus also was not content to let things be. He cried out to Jesus for mercy and it was given him. However neither of these men returned to living as they had in the past. Job was more blessed in the second half of his life than the first. And Bartimaeus became a follower of Jesus. Both moved into the future; they did not return to the past.
I’m tired of the struggle for justice for so many marginalized peoples. I am exhausted by the rhetoric of politicians. I don’t want to return to an era that limited rights for women, or the LGBT community, or anyone else. I don’t want to return to a time with certain morals because too many people were harmed by ignorance and injustice in those days. I’m all for restoration of fortune (and sight) literally and figuratively, but I’m not willing to pay the soul-destroying price that might be exacted if the politicians have their way. Mercy, true mercy, anyway, is truely priceless.
I worry about what is happening in this country and around the world. No amount of Tetris will diminish my concerns and Superman is too busy looking for new employment to come to the rescue. So, I cry out with Bartimaeus, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy.
RCL – Year B – Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost – Reformation Sunday – October 28,2012
(photo from http://mortalkombat.wikia.com/wiki/Superman)
Job 42:1-6, 10-17
Psalm 34:1-8 [19-22]Series 2: