Time to Straighten what is Crooked

For everything there is a season and a time

It’s not easy to love one’s enemies and to pray for those who persecute you in 2020. It’s hard not to cheer when the president who has shown no grief for the 214,000 American dead or compassion for the sick and mourning succumbs to the virus he once called a hoax. But this is not a time for cheering. No amount of cheering will fix what ails us.

“For everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven,“ wrote the ancient Hebrew sage (Ecclesiastes 3:1) centuries before a young Donald Trump found direction in Norman Vincent Peal’s gospel of the Power of Positive Thinking that vaccinates a person or nation against self-defeating thoughts that block success. No longer is there a season or time for weeping. No time for mourning. No time for Ecclesiastes’ sullen declaration that “all is vanity” or the depths of despair in the Psalms, Proverbs, Jeremiah, Lamentations, or the “Woes” of Amos and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Evil is shrunk to the size of a thimble — the temptation of thinking negatively about success. Slowly but surely, the prosperity gospel without a cross replaces the ethic of the Golden Rule — “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — and the Sermon on the Mount’s “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Good Intentions

“[T]he struggle against evil can make us evil,” wrote biblical scholar Walter Wink in Engaging the Powers, “and no amount of good intentions automatically prevents its happening.”

Good intentions have been hard to find, and, when we think we’ve found them, they sometimes become evil in disguise. The “vanity” of Ecclesiastes is never far away. The Hebrew word “hehbel” is a breath of air, or of the mouth — evanescent, empty, puffed up, wicked, false, and often idolatrous.

Evil as a Parasite

Like other parasites, evil does not breathe on its own. It requires a host. It exists only because of goodness. Rarely candid or self-identifying before its work is done, evil is pernicious. It slowly sucks the oxygen out of goodness. It wears the masks of saviors whose agendas are destruction. Evil is an arsonist masquerading as the fire department that will rescue us, while it strikes the matches that turn forests and homes into cinders and ashes. It assures us that the scent we smell is not real. It presents itself as what is the straight-forward talk that warps what is straight into something crooked.

The Scent of Smoke

Sometimes the scent and sight of smoke rise from a constitution in flames. A crook with Covid-19 lights a match in the name of law-and-order while encouraging the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” and saying not a mumbling word after the federal and state agents uncover a white supremacist plot to kidnap the Governor of Michigan and spark civil war.

Though the parasite of evil starts slowly, its threat to our health cannot remain hidden forever. Eventually the power of positive thinking has to face the greater power it denies. The longing for goodness, truth and beauty may yet lead vanity to the operating room where a real doctor removes the parasite from the body politic.

This is a season to straighten what is crooked, to resist evil, while always reminding ourselves that the struggle against evil can make us evil.

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 11, 2020

2 thoughts on “Time to Straighten what is Crooked

  1. Gordon, At no time in our lives have we seen this level of madness in the White House. We have had America First and whako talk radio. We witnessed the prologue to this play in Germany beginning in 33. Yale Medicine has been holding high the testimony that Trump is insane and the problem is 43% of our citizens. Like Trump. A Norfolk PhD Clinical Psychologist argues Trump is a low functioning Psychopath with no Executive Function.

    Susan and I voted 2 weeks ago. Bishop Budde’s sermon, prayers and Collects were focused.

    Jesse has been sick which adds to the stress.

    Hope you Barkley and Kay are hopeful and well.

    Best,

    Jim

    James B Haugh

    On Sun, Oct 11, 2020, 5:01 PM Views from the Edge wrote:

    Gordon C. Stewart posted: ” For everything there is a season and a time; It’s not easy to love one’s enemies and to pray for those who persecute you in 2020. It’s hard not to cheer when the president who has shown no grief for the 214,000 American dead or compassion for the sick…. ”

    Like

    • Jim, Words have escaped me for a long time. What little I might say is a rant of rage against the wind. I’ve said what I have to say, again and again and again, like a recording on a continuous loop. You and I see the same thing. Only difference I can tell is that Barclay likely is less sick than Jesse. The customary oozing from his eyes that afflicts all the breed suddenly turned brown in color. We left the 20 minutes with the vet $230 poorer but the ointment appears to be working.

      What’s happening with your buddy Jesse? I hope it’s not serious and outrageously costly.

      Stay well, friend. Hugs to Susie.

      Gordon

      Like

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