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You Are Here

December 13, 2016

We’ve all seen the signs.  If you go to an outlet mall or shopping center there are large map stations scattered around giving the layout of the complex and listing all the stores so you can find the one you want.  Common to all of them is little marker, usually an arrow, saying “You Are Here.”  This marker is an obvious necessity if we are to find what we are looking for.  No matter how precise the map is unless you know your starting point it is useless.

This concept has come to my mind repeatedly as I’ve listened to progressive commentary on the recent Presidential election.  As they go through their excuse-making for losing the election and pointing fingers to almost everybody but themselves to explain why they lost I want to shout at them “The election is over!  Get over it!”  They need to locate themselves at the “You Are Here” sign, decide where they want to go, and take it from there.  Frankly, the post-election whining reinforces a truth they don’t want to admit – they actually do share Hillary’s view that people who differ with them are “deplorable.”

I understand how hard it is to face their “You Are Here” sign.  They have lost the Presidency, the Senate and the House; they have lost 30 or so governorships and state legislators.  Eight years ago they were bragging about a “permanent Democrat majority” and instead they have been going steadily backwards.  When you are convinced that you and all your positions are not just right but righteous that is difficult to accept.   What they need to do is repent of their arrogance, learn how to listen as well as speak, and accept that those who differ with you are not deplorable but they know you see them as that way and don’t like it.

This sort of analysis, while comfortable when talking about others, is much harder when talking about ourselves.  Frankly, we evangelicals have managed to convey the idea that we consider ourselves right and righteous with great success.  We try and avoid Hillary-like slips but, among ourselves and sometimes in public, our assumption that “they” are deplorable is easy to hear.

I have little confidence that the great social changes that we’ve seen over the last generation can be rolled back by Trump and his court justices.  I’m not even convinced he wants to do it.  We’ve created images of ourselves as a people who hate gays, anyone who has an abortion, feminists, atheists, Muslims and just about anyone who differs with our doctrines.  We issue calls to repentance and are blind to their seeing them as calls to be “just like us” when that is the last thing they want.

The “You Are Here” sign for Christians is that we have lost the respect of many as deciders of moral correctness.  It is not enough to rail against things we consider immoral.  It is not enough to cite a Bible that few believe and even fewer know.

In one sense you might say that this is a golden moment for evangelicals.  Those who have opposed us are stunned.  They fear that we may now gloat and taunt them and try to force them to accept our morality – or else.  This is a Jesus moment; a time to sit down with today’s tax collectors and sinners and to listen to them and their fears.  The “warm fuzzy” attitude that Christmas evokes in many makes friendly outreach possible.  The “blue Christmas” of others opens doors to compassion.

I live in a blue state now.  I’ve seen how many people here are bewildered and fearful.  Down the street from me is a woman who has yet to take down her Trump/Pence sign and has no plans to do so.  I’ve heard her taunt others about the recent election and about what is going to happen next.  Her gloating tone is now known to all.  I’ve yet to hear one shred of a conversation that would make anyone want to agree with her.  She preaches a secularized version of the old fire-and-brimstone, repent-or-else, preaching.

There is one thing that progressives got right; the demographic and social trends should have favored them.  But through arrogance and brusque dismissal of all who dared to differ they blew it; turning away far more than they attracted.  I’d like to hope we can do better.

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