Grace in a Time of Outrage
I keep thinking that LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling has, in an odd sort of way, done us all a service. Unless you are someone who hasn’t seen either a news report or sports news report in the last few days you are probably edging toward being sick of hearing about him and the recording of his racist comments that were leaked to the public.
For the most part, outrage is a pretty selective thing. We pick and choose what we want to be outraged about. Egged on by people who are outraged for a living, like competing talk show hosts Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow, we latch on to stories that outrage us and ignore, or even attempt to refute, the stories that outrage the other side.
Christians, both conservative and progressive, also form little outrage clubs. We too tend to hunt for stories to be outraged about. If you listen to both sides you will know that we are teetering on a slippery slope toward the end of religious freedom and, at the same time, on another slippery slope toward the imposition of a fundamentalist theocracy.
Enter Donald Sterling. His comments have unified us, left and right, religious and secular. We have found someone we can be outraged about together. In a land that insists, all evidence to the contrary, that we hunger for bipartisanship we have found someone we can be appalled about in perfect harmony. Thank you.
We need to be careful of course. We don’t want to say anything that will upset this fragile harmony of outrage. We don’t want to, for example, point out that it appears that Sterling had both a wife and a girlfriend and be outraged about that. We all know that saying anything about marriage is a deal-breaker in bipartisan harmony.
Sarah Palin gave it a shot this week in an effort to create bipartisan outrage. She, of course, is a gold mine for outraged progressives. They hang on her every word, listening for something to be outraged about. This was their latest victory in their quest for outrageous Palin quotes:
“Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists.”
I am delighted to report that, based on responses I have seen, an astonishing number of progressives hold Christian baptism in high regard and are outraged that “the holy sacrament of baptism was frivolously used as a metaphor to justify the unholy torture of human beings.” Even better, a large number of Christians who normally find her endless string of provocative sound bites quite entertaining seemed willing to link hands with their progressive brothers in bipartisan outrage.
But what if we could be unified by grace and not outrage? What if there were times where an act of grace in the face of outrageous behavior could unite us? What if something like this could unite the left and the right; the religious and the secular? Even better, what if we could do it ourselves in small acts of everyday grace?