Tag Archives: Generosity

Why I Can’t Read Matt Walsh

THIS POST HAS BEEN READ OVER 4,000 TIMES SINCE I FIRST WROTE IT OVER A YEAR AGO. SO I DECIDED TO UPDATE IT A BIT AND REPOST IT. I HAVE SINCE AVOIDED MR. WALSH’S BLOG  AND HAVE BLOCKED HIS POSTS FROM MY FACEBOOK PAGE. IF HIS BLOG IS NO LONGER WHAT IT USED TO BE, THEN DISREGARD THE COMMENTS BELOW. I HAVE A SUSPICION, THOUGH, THAT IT’S ONLY BECOME WORSE. NEVERTHELESS, HAPPY READING.

I try not to attack people, especially through social media. Jesus is clear: if you have a problem with somebody, go to them directly.

It could be argued that I’ve done so, by which I mean I sent an email once. I acknowledge the unbiblical spirit of my words even as I type.

Yet I cannot remain silent. A large number of my Facebook friends read and share Matt Walsh’s blog daily. I’d like to point out something that troubles me about this, and share thoughts about the blog that I hope you’ll keep in mind if you’re a Matt Walsh reader.

If you’re unfamiliar with Matt Walsh and his blog, spend some time reading it and make your own decisions about what he has to say. He’s a gifted writer, easy to read, and is certainly engaging. He writes about current topics, and takes a firm, traditional stance on most issues.

What his posts sorely lack, though, are love, mercy, and gentleness. The first time I saw Mr. Walsh’s blog shared, it was his response to a high school student who wrote him asking for advice. His health teacher was teaching safe sex rather than abstinence, and the young reader wondered what his response should be. Here’s an excerpt:

“Speaking of adults without character, please ignore everything your “health teacher” says on this subject. I have to put quotes around her title because it doesn’t sound like she’s doing much in the way of teaching, and whatever she’s blabbering about has very little to do with “health.” She seems to think there’s a “safe” way for emotionally immature juveniles to have casual sex. Maybe she’ll follow up this performance by advocating “safe drunk driving.”

Most of the response continues with this juvenile tone, demonizing the young man’s teacher.

Healthy disagreement is good, even necessary for us to grow. But Mr. Walsh shames and belittles anyone he believes to be wrong. Regardless of the truth he claims to speak, truth without love is irrelevant (GREAT BLOG ABOUT THAT TOPIC HERE). Truth requires generosity if it’s to be received by others. When it’s spoken with immaturity and an antagonistic spirit, Truth lacks authority and does great harm to any opportunity for civil dialogue. Not one person is swayed to a new way of thinking by being insulted.

Mr. Walsh’s blog is toxic and serves no productive purpose in our society. It is only meant to rile up the anger of people who think like him without offering anything original, thus deepening the division that already poisons our world.

Mr. Walsh’s influence seems to be growing, and that scares me. Is this the way we want to speak to people with whom we disagree? Is this the way Jesus spoke to anyone: with adolescent, narcissistic sarcasm and petty name calling? When those who reject Jesus and the Church read the posts we share on Facebook and Twitter, are they more likely to follow Jesus or will their view of Christians only be confirmed?

If you are a person who enjoy’s Mr. Walsh’s blog, I encourage you to read cautiously and resist adopting his attitude toward the people he vilifies. And if you choose to share his thoughts via social media, consider what others might see in him, in you, and in Jesus when you do so.

I Don’t Want Kent to Die

 

How you do life is your real and final truth, not what ideas you believe. -Richard Rohr

THEOLOGY MATTERS. MOSTLY.

I love theology and Bible study and good, healthy debate. What we think about Jesus matters, but only so far as it prompts us to action. This sounds harsh, but I really don’t care what your theology is if you’re on the broad road with everybody else. If you’re part of the individualistic, materialistic, comfort-driven crowd who hasn’t sacrificed so much as a scrap of life for another person, then I just don’t care about your theology. As Jesus said, the wise man hears Jesus’ words and puts them into practice. The fool hears them and does nothing.

Think of the number of us who listen to (and preach) sermons, read (and write) dozens of blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts every week telling us what to think about God or the Church or the latest political crisis. Compare that with the number of people who haven’t got time for such things because they’re actually out there doing it – they’re living their theology instead of reading and writing about it. As Hermann Cain famously said, “I don’t have the evidence to back this up,” but I have to believe there are far more of us preaching and reading and writing than actually doing. That is exactly what Jesus meant when he said there is a broad road and a narrow road. Most of us are on the broad road that’s going nowhere, but only a few are on the narrow road that leads to life.

Which is why I don’t want Kent to die.

DR. KENT BRANTLY

10492117_680042328749415_2841062179263172112_n

I met Kent Brantly – the American doctor who contracted Ebola – a few times. I didn’t know him well. He was two years behind me at our small Christian university in west Texas. Kent’s older brother and sister-in-law were my age. My wife and I knew them moderately well. I remember Kent being a tall, gangly guy whom I never saw without a smile. He was in the same social club (Christian university lingo for “frat”) as most of my friends, so I had an awareness of him and his pleasant personality.

Like many of you, I’ve read lots of articles about his condition and, more importantly, about his life and the choices he’s made. Kent is obviously an intelligent guy, and intelligent people sometimes choose the broad road that leads to comfort and wealth and fame and power. Kent, however, chose the narrow way that leads to life.

His story has weighed heavily on my wife and me. It’s tragic on every level. For people like us, reading and watching from afar, it’s like a punch to the gut. Our hearts break for his wife and children, his brother, his family, and all his friends.

I don’t want Kent to die.

I don’t want Kent to die because the world needs people who look and live like Jesus. The world needs people who see disease, risk, and danger as invitations for going instead of excuses for avoiding.

I don’t want Kent to die because if he does that’s one less person living out the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus in real time, in real life. Not somebody talking about it from a pulpit or reading about it in a coffee shop. Kent strikes me as a guy who believes the Word became flesh so he has done likewise.

I don’t want Kent to die because we need people who are living now like Jesus, without much concern for a proper eschatological view or theology of infant baptism or clearly spelled out explanation of hell and how one arrives there. Sure those things are important, but only if they get you off the couch and into a world full of hurt. We need people who aren’t satisfied with a safe, comfortable theology that gives them permission to lead a safe, comfortable life. We need people who are willing to stand toe-to-toe with death and pain and disease and brokenness because their love for life is so fierce.

I’ve said many times that there’s always a reason you shouldn’t make sacrifices for others. It will never be the right time, it will always cost you something, and you’ll be forced to sacrifice something precious to you. There’s always a reason not to move your family to Liberia. There’s always a reason to stay on the road that’s broad, avoiding the one that’s narrow.

But the world moves nowhere when we’re only concerned with ourselves. The world only gets better when I sacrifice what matters to me so that I might do what matters to us. The world gets better when the Church decides that the Word only matters when it takes on flesh.

As Jesus followers we’re driven by two fundamental practices: incarnation and resurrection. With incarnation there’s nowhere we cannot go, and with resurrection there’s nothing we cannot do.

I pray with great hope for Kent’s healing. I pray his life inspires a thousand others to live with the incarnational spirit of Jesus. I pray his life gets all of us off the couch, doing something in the world that actually matters. May Kent’s life not end here, and may he continue on that narrow road, giving others life along the way.