Jan. 6, 2010
For those of us who have to read the Washington Post, it can often be a trial. We are used to having our political, economic, social, and foreign policy principles trashed on a daily basis. We know that the Post considers us poor, uneducated, and easy to command. Our hometown paper regards us Christians as, at best, interlopers here. One of the prime examples I cite was the cartoon done by the late Herblock. He depicted anti-abortion demonstrators as decidedly declasse. The woman bearing a placard looked mean-spirited and frowsy. But at least she was a woman. The man in the cartoon wore a ragged black frock coat, a broad-brimmed hat, and nasty little granny glasses perched on his long and disapproving nose. Here was the best part: in the pocket of down-at-the-heels preacher was a snake. Oh my. How very tolerant the tolerance troopers are.
For sheer leer and sneer, however, youd be hard-pressed to top the Posts TV critic, Tom Shales. Shales has made a career of looking down his nose at just about everything that we cherish. They are the beliefs of tens of millions of us from outside-the-Beltway (and tens of thousands inside-the-Beltway, too) Shales came down like the big ball in Times Square this new year on Brit Hume.
The former FOX News anchor, now a senior commentator, had the temerity to recommend to Tiger Woods that he get right with Jesus. Oh, the humanity! Oh, the horror! Shales thought Hume was dissing all the Buddhists in the world by stating Christianity offered forgiveness and redemption that exceeded that of other faiths. And he said itgaspon camera.
Okay, Mr. Shales. Lets talk about Christian forgiveness. Id like to take you to the Lincoln Memorial. There, the words of the majestic Second Inaugural are inscribed on the wall. President Lincoln offered this thought about the slavery issue that had convulsed the country through four long years of civil war: It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.
Where do you think that judge not phrase came from? Was it a saying of Buddha? Or Mohammed? Or might it possibly have been found in Matthew, Chapter 7, verse 1, and offered by You Know Who?
Frederick Douglass was the first black man ever invited to an inaugural reception at the White House. Unlike today, where the uninvited get in, guards tried to keep President Lincolns guest out. When the President saw Douglass after he had climbed through the window, he hailed him. Theres my friend Douglass. He motioned for the champion of black Emancipation to come to the head of the line. He asked for Douglass opinion of the Address. Mr. Lincoln, it was a sacred effort.
What? Sacred efforts undertaken on the Capitol steps? Wasnt Lincoln attempting to shove religion down Americans throats? If Tom Shales had been there to report on that scene, would he have carped: He doesnt really have the authority, does he, unless one believes that every Christian by mandate must proselytize? Was Lincoln trying toshudderproselytize?
How else could Ulysses S. Grant treat Robert E. Lee and his ragged rebel hosts with such tenderness, such dignity, at Appomattox? What else could explain Lincolns policy of letting `em up easy than an understanding of forgiveness and redemptionas taught in the Christian Scriptures?
I am not saying Lincoln and Grant were evangelists. Or born-again Christians. But at their best they lived and acted in a world formed by biblical ideals. They wereas millions of Americans then and nowshaped by scriptural truths.
If Brit Hume had gone to Thailand and there told a TV audience that Buddhism was inadequate, there might be room for protest. If he had confronted the Dalai Lama and urged him to give it all up, there might be room for Shales haughty harrumphs. But Brit was reaching out in a most tender-hearted way to a man whom he admired greatlywhom we all admired greatly. Brit was offering Tiger Woods balm in Gilead. You can enter the Kingdom of Heaven with thatand even pass through airport security.