Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity


What Is the Christian Response to the Israel/Hamas Situation?

posted by Carolyn Henderson
Autumn Dance oil painting of man and girl in gazebo by lake and Victorian house by Steve Henderson

If you’re a parent, you share more in common with another parent in India, or Israel, or Gaza, than you do with President Obama or former President George W. Bush. Autumn Dance, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at iCanvasART

When I returned home from work last week, there was a message from the bank on the answering machine:

“Please give us a call at your earliest convenience.”

That was it, and because of all the myriad of privacy laws protecting me from getting additional information — readily available to every government agency on the planet — about my financial affairs, I had no idea why the bank wanted to talk to me, but I managed to mentally run through a number of scenarios, none of which were good.

Quite fortunately, when I called the next day and was able to get a real human, I found out that the call concerned a nominal question about absolutely nothing.

Incomplete Information

Operating on limited and incomplete information, I had spent fruitless time building scenarios that had nothing to do with reality.

In many ways, this is how we, the ordinary people, function with the news: funneled through corporate entities (do you know that 6 corporations control 90 percent of the media in America?) and politicians (they hold press conferences; reporters write down what they say; we read it in the newspaper — with the end result that what we consider news is often no more than a re-write of a government press release), we operate on limited information, liberally sprinkled with disinformation and misinformation.

(And by the way, when I use the word “liberally,” I’m embracing conservatives, too, because the essential result of the “liberals” versus “conservative” debate is that we small people argue with one another, as opposed to noticing that both current U.S. President Obama and former U.S. President George W. Bush enjoy a similar lifestyle that is far beyond the reach of most of us. What they have in common — money, power, media coverage, a literal physical distance from the electorate and custom fitted suits — binds them closer to one another than they are to any of the rest of us. Do you think that you will ever run into either of these two at Wal-Mart and be able to actually talk to them?)

Israel and Gaza

Let’s take an issue that is going on now, has been going on a long time prior, and will fill talk shows for years hence  — the Israeli/Hamas situation. Now most Christians know how they are supposed to think about this, simply because Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity are generous in analyzing the limited information citizen viewers are given, interpreting it, and shepherding followers in how and what to think. You’re free to disagree, because this is the America these commentators know and love, but do be aware that you will be considered “kind of dumb and ignorant.” That’s okay — just keep buying the books; that’s the main function of your purpose-driven life.

The New Hat 1940s nostalgia woman in front of old fashioned dresser mirror oil painting by Steve Henderson

We get up, we work, we take care of our families. Ordinary people, everywhere, want the right to live ordinary lives. The New Hat, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

Now while there are Christians who listen to the other side — NPR and CNN — and are similarly guided by “opposite” analysis and directed reasoning — too many evangelical Christians associate Jesus with Republicans with conservative with Fox News, and whatever the sheep think about Israel, or any issue of the day, is lamentably reminiscent of the voice of a few influential, raucous, belligerent men. What comes out is this:

Simple and Simplistic

1) Israel is never the aggressor.

2) Palestine is never on the defense.

3) Children and non-military personnel (i.e., women and old people) may die in Palestine, but Israel is never the aggressor.

4) If you speak out against Israel, ever, you are anti-Semitic and you hate all Jews.

John the Baptist was a Jew, and this is what he said to the Jewish leaders, coming out to be baptized by him:

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3: 7-8)

Anti Semitic Hate Speech?

Jesus, another famous Jew, said — again to the leaders — “Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23: 27-28)

If either man were to speak so on alternative media these days, he would be labeled anti-Semitic, a purveyor of hate speech, not to mention “kind of dumb and ignorant.”

No war is one-sided, and no news commentator, or TV station, should be defining our beliefs about the world around us. That they are so successful at doing so is testament to our willingness to be controlled by the voices of men.

But this is what Romans 1: 29-30 tells us about the world — and words — of men:

“They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers (that’s interesting), God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful.; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”

That’s what we are. That’s why there are wars. And that’s why there are people telling us how to think about those wars — their way, one way, with no questions asked.

How should Christians respond to the Israeli/Hamas situation? With prayer, discernment, and a healthy reluctance to be told what to think.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity where my consistent message is this:

1) Think for yourself

2) Recognize that you operate on limited information, but God does not

3) In light of items 1 and 2, seek truth in Scripture and prayer.

Posts similar to this one are

Should You Question Authority?

Afraid to Post on Facebook

The Misfit Christian (my book, self-published, for the believer who doesn’t fit into the corporate church environment. Stop feeling bad about this — you’ve been called to do Christ’s work, not sit in a pew and accept everything you are told.)

 

 



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  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    Thank you, April. The first step in processing information is learning whether the facts we are given are accurate, or not, and you have a good grasp on that. Would that more Christians would be a little less sheep-like in believing everything they are told . . .

  • April @ 100lbcountdown

    I believe that we are too far removed to know the truth of the matter. We receive our information through a filtered lens. The lens isn’t as thick as it is in China or other heavy handed regimes, but through the capitalism of making a dollar, the “story” is more important than the truth. This is a great piece.

    Your co-host from Creative Style Linkup ~~April~~

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    Brittnei — it’s an old technique: when someone disagrees with what you say, attack them for hating. In the 1980s, when people expressed concern about daycare, and how it probably wasn’t the best place to place, and raise, a baby, they were accused of hating children, and not caring about women who had to work. The vitriol hid the real issue of whether or not commercial, large daycares, staffed by undertrained and underpaid staff who had no real lasting interest in their little charges, was the best place for children to be. Bringing out the hate statement was meant to squash intelligent discussion over legitimate concerns.

    So it is with Israel: anyone who questions anything is accused as being anti-Semitic, hating all Jewish people and everything they represent. When people speak up, they are shouted down, and both conservative and liberal talk show hosts override their guests voices with their own, laden with sarcasm and “wit.”

    I miss Johnny Carson. He asked questions, sat back, and let his guests speak. He was funny, and brilliant — and he didn’t have to talk and talk and talk, insistently telling everyone how amazing he was.

  • Brittnei Washington

    Hey Carolyn! Thanks so much for sharing your guest post with us at the Creative Style Linkup. It’s very sad but true for all people. If you say anything against Israel or what a Jew is saying, you are repeatedly deemed as anti-Semitic especially in situations like this. It’s nice to see someone who considers herself to be apart of one of the 3 most dominant religions not cosigning this talk. People may not believe it, but not everyone who thinks what Israel is doing or has done hates Jews.

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  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    Well said, Truthseeker. David refused to depose Saul, the Lord’s anointed, but this didn’t preclude his criticizing him. One of the hallmarks of a bully is a person who shouts you down, tells you to shut up, calls you stupid because you disagree with him. Come to think of it, I just watched a clip of a famous Fox commentator doing just that — and he had the gall earlier in the broadcast to say that alternative news wasn’t worth following because it didn’t have a proper editor. That man needs not only a proper editor, but perhaps a bit of soap to clean up his soul.

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    Mary — I too have years of hearing, “Israel is being besieged on all sides, and they are God’s people, and Christians have an obligation to support God’s people.” But there’s a difference between people, and people, and what the leaders of a country do is not necessarily what the people want.

    And, if the people do want it, majority does not necessarily make right moral choices. When a woman holds a dead five year old in her arms, her cry is as anguished whether she is a Jew or Muslim, Christian or Hindu, enemy of one country or ally. When I consistently hear the same message — support this, believe this, go along with this — I stop and back off.

    Of course, it helps to read alternative news, many of which aren’t (yet) owned by the six major companies.

  • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

    Thank you Sister Mary Burrell.

  • Mary Burrell
  • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

    I know what you mean Sister. I try to look at both sides to get a clearer history. There are many Christians living in Israel and in Palestine including Gaza too. First, we should treat our neighbors as ourselves regardless if they are Jewish or Arabic. Second, we should find independent information that fairly shows information about this conflict. I reject Fox News because of obvious reasons. Blessing people doesn’t mean that we can’t critique the actions of a nation. For example, the prophets Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. critiqued their own nation harsher than people from FOX News critique Israel. We should express great sympathy for the loss of human life that exists in Gaza and throughout the Earth. Therefore, we should be fair and hope that progressive minded Israelis and Palestinians have true peace and justice.

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  • Mary Burrell

    In my observation Israel looks like the bully.

  • Mary Burrell

    This was excellent. I have been a Christian for many years and i have heard it said over and over again. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” “God blesses those who bless Isreal” ad nausem. I find this kind of conflicting. I am trying to learn the basics of this conflict. Trying to learn the history of how this rift between the Palestineans and Israelis came to this. It’s hard seeing small children and civilians people of Gaza hurt, maimed, and killed by the hands of the Israelis. I detest Fox News. IJS. But all the other news media are biased as well. They only tell their slant. This leaves me feeling confused and more ignorant than before. I think this is deliberate. But you educated me with your post. You have informed me about how the media works. I am late to the party trying to learn all this but i want to learn about a great many things. Geopolitical issues are just hard for me to grasp. I seems neither one wants peace and this conflict has been going on far centuries.

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  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    Thank you — as Christians, truth should be a big thing with us, and as you observe, we are victims of media. But we don’t have to be that way — we can break the abuse cycle just by the very thought, “I don’t think I’m going to believe everything you say anymore. It may take some time on my part, but I’m going to look around and see what other chatter is out there, and see if this issue is as one-sided as you say.”

  • http://www.coachbrown.org/ Coach Brown

    Excellent thoughts. We are victims of the media and our choices to select which perspective to wrestle with for the truth or at least one version of it. The more we investigate the closer we get to the truth as best we can get to know it. Thanks.

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