Tuesday’s USA TODAY (October 24, 2006) contained a full-page open letter by James Robison called “We Have a Choice.” A challenge to America to change course and align herself with God, my heart raced as I imagined a call to align ourselves with divine justice, compassion, and humility (Micah 6:8), to stop living by the sword lest we die by the sword (Matthew 26:52), and to care for the least among us (Matthew 25:40).
At first I thought this might be so as Mr. Robison affirmed the need to free ourselves from greed, to seek peace inwardly and outwardly, to focus on “love, relationships, family, joy, compassion, and serving others,” and to engage in dialogue with those with whom we differ without the “desire to destroy the opposition.” But this quickly devolved into a passionate invocation of the god of violence who threatens to destroy America because of abortion, Hollywood, and homosexuality.
He tells us that he has seen America broken by terrible violence with “masses of people crying out in fear and panic from destruction and death beyond comprehension.” We will call to God for relief but God will not save us. Indeed, it is God who allows this horror, whatever it is, to come upon us.
Mr. Robison’s god is not my God. Yes, this god can be found in the Hebrew Bible, in the Book of Revelation, and in the Qur’an, but this god is not the true God of the Hebrew Prophets, or the Father of Jesus, or the All-Merciful Allah of Mohammed (peace be upon him). Robison’s God is not the God of the rabbis who edit Exodus 34 (6-7) to reveal a God of mercy, grace, patience, infinite compassion, truth, and forgiveness. This is the god of violence who sanctions violence on behalf of those whose evil feeds his hunger for destruction. This god is the creation of the human lust for power. This god sanctions genocide, crusades, pogroms, lesser jihad, and terrorism. This is not the God who says, “Blessed are the peacemakers,: or who challenges us love our neighbor, the stranger, and our enemies, and to not study war any more.
I agree with Mr. Robison that we must transform our country by transforming ourselves. I believe we must be pro-life and put an end to violence, abuse, capital punishment, and the valuing of a few cells over the life, health, and well being of girls and women. I believe we should be pro-justice and support a living wage and universal healthcare. I believe we should be pro-family and welcome loving couples both straight and gay. I believe we should out grow the violence that passes for art and entertainment both on the large screen and the game screen. I believe we should heed Jesus and care for the least among us. I believe we should love our neighbors, the stranger, and our enemies, pledging ourselves to ending violence against both person and planet. And I am willing to pay serious taxes to achieve these goals. But I read none of that in We Have a Choice.
The essay’s subtitle is “Humility or Humiliation.” True, this is the choice before us. I doubt we will choose wisely.