Friday, September 19, 2008

The Difficult Question

A friend posted this elsewhere and I thought I'd pass it on:

When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:

Heavenly Father,We come before You today to ask Your Forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ''Woe to those who call evil good,'' but that's exactly what we have done. We have lost our Spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that; we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism; We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism; We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle; We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery; We have neglected the needy and called it self preservation; We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare; We have killed our unborn and called it choice; We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable; We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem; We have abused power and called it political savvy; We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition; We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression; We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of this state and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state of Kansas. Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your Will.I ask in in the name of your Son, The Living Savior, Jesus Christ.

The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa, and Korea. Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on "The Rest of the Story" on the radio and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired. With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called one nation under God.

I work in a district that allows me amazing liberties. I can all-out holler at students, pat them on the back, pick on them, hug them, hit them, hang out with them, bake for them, share music with them, etc - all in a positive way and for their benefit, though I might be fired from an upperclass school for any one of these. And the few times parents have imagined an insult over something I've said, my administrators have had my back the whole time, even though it's my word against theirs (the parents').

I read something like this and I marvel at how the idea is expressed so thoroughly yet so succinctly. I applaud the bravery to be say it aloud. I offer praises that it was so well-received (less than 1% negative responses).

And then I wonder why I couldn't do it.

Is it uncertainty of the message's reception? (I work in a small school, after all, and it only takes a few key people to sway the crowd one way or another, whether students or staff.)

Is it fear for my own safety? (I had a gang tell me as I was finishing a jog that they were planning on jumping me until they recognized that I was Mr. Nedimyer. All it takes is one upset gang, especially with drugs to lower inhibitions, and given the right opportunity I might not be here tomorrow.)

Is it prudence? (Realistically, I could be fired for ignoring the line of separation of church and state, or simply not re-hired next year, especially seeing as I don't have tenure yet.)

I mean, I've gone to a few churches and have finally settled on one, and many of my students know I attend there. I wear a simple cross neclace outside my clothing (the students poked fun at me one day when I forgot it). I try to live a lifestyle that is above reproach (ex- I don't swear, even though my students have given me plenty of opportunities where it would have been appropriate). I try to always be caring and cheerful and not complaining even when there is reason to. So I live an openly christian lifestyle that others know about and are becoming comfortable with.

But it brings up the difficult question: Is it better to live to fight another day or to go out in a blaze of glory? Should I show people day-by-day that by being christian I am smarter/healthier/happier? Or should I loudly proclaim repentance and risk loosing my foothold in this backwater, needy community?

I don't have an answer. Does anyone have any insights?


Kool Kat said...

I can't but invoke some song lyrics on this one:

It's not the lives that you save
But what your silence will scream

Although the prayer mentioned is powerful and true, beyond stating many strings of observation together, do you think it changed anybody's life? Did any members of the Kansas State Senate fall to their knees, praying for forgiveness? I'm prone to think the non-Christians either walked out (as stated) or simply was tolerant of the message, but came back the next day relatively unchanged.

Now, don't take this the wrong way, you could probably put together a whole small group and investigate the reality of this prayer for a solid 8-10 weeks, but I think teaching where you are, and as you are is making more of a daily impact (i.e. - not getting mugged). However, I agree that this isn't a call to inaction, but the opposite. Maybe there is a way that you could express your faith in a way that isn't intrusive to the school district. Ever think of coming up with a few cool ideas, and asking the admin BEFORE doing it to see if they're alright with it? It's hard to resist a good presentation. Think about it - and I will too - and maybe write more later.

quirkyskittle said...

I'm also a little concerned about the guy's delivery, to be honest. For something that was so "repentant," it comes off sounding awfully self-righteous. If we're going to list things that people well-meaningly do as sins (of course people who aren't of any particular religion think that pluralism is fine...that's a logical conclusion based on the premises from which they're starting), we'd better be prepared to explain why, and we ought to be a little more merciful than that.