Where is The Urgency?

Russia, collusion, conspiracy, deception…we’ve watched the headlines for the last two years. 

Honestly, I didn’t know how the Mueller investigation would turn out.  Pundits on the right shouted out that it was a witch-hunt…until it wasn’t.  Pundits on the left busied themselves divining the lead investigator’s mind…they were wrong. 

Standing on the sidelines with everyone else, powerless to affect the outcome and definitely powerless to know if the process was fair and transparent, I watched and waited.  If Mueller found something, then the nation might erupt in civil disobedience, there might be a constitutional crisis, impeachment proceedings undoubtedly would begin, but so far all of it has been a giant hole that both parties have sunk their collective energy into.  Wasting their time on a fruitless quest, shouting deranged insults at each other, instead of solving bigger problems: our mushrooming debt, failing healthcare reform, porous national borders, rising international opponents. We face existential threats that are heart-stopping…if we choose to think about them. 

I think that I’ll just stream another Netflix series, or play video games, or post some more videos on Facebook.  I have to deal with the stress somehow.

Haven’t you become cynical?  Does the political party really matter?  

The policies don’t matter, the truth doesn’t matter, our founding principles don’t matter.  Results matter though, just not the kind that we desire.  Political outcomes are the goal and truth can get on board as long as it doesn’t interfere with the results.  Doesn’t each contest feel like it is driving the political extreme just a little more to the outer limits, just a little more to a place where the lunatic fringe lurks in the dark, fists clenched, ready to wrest control of the country from the herd-like center…think Maoist China, Stalinist Russia, Cambodia, Rwanda, but it can’t happen here. Right?

Do you feel the energy? Our politicians tell us that there is a crisis.  Listen to them.

We’re being overrun with alien citizens; climate warming is going to destroy us in twelve years.  Messages proclaimed with urgent power. Each time I hear them with their shrill emotionalism, my heart reacts…until reason boots up, if it does.  I try to power through the bombast with intellectual fervor, but it’s getting harder.

 Each side with evangelical intensity, preaches that our way of life is being torn away from us. Once it is gone, it will never be recaptured, our former glory stolen from us by a bunch of Nazis or Communists…pick your side.  There can be no compromise on any issue.  Weakness will allow the enemy to steal a march on us:  the schools, the government and now even our churches are the battlefields and we must be vigilant, ready to strike, proclaiming on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter mobs that our way is right: “give up your Lattes for justice!” 

There is something unsettling about this and the world recognizes it; we might be forging a new era. 

Prosperity isn’t the issue.  The poor in our country have cell phones, cars, air conditioning, and abundant food.

Why is there so much agitation?  Does this even make sense? The 60s, with all of their turmoil weren’t like this.  Wasn’t racism a real issue then? Weren’t we fighting unjust wars, fought by unwilling men? Those issues radiated power, and they are still real, but the angst seems contrived. 

 A recent column by Peggy Noonan for the Wall Street Journal recognizes that we are living in a new unsettled age.  She writes that she is worried by what she sees.  A veteran speech writer of Reagan’s presidency, someone who lived through the upheaval of the 20th century, she contemplates a future without civility.  Exhibiting those rare commodities: insight and wisdom, that have vanished from our normal political discourse, she is worried.

 Even the “world” sees it.

And you know what is strange?  In spite of the fear-mongering, the collective doomsday forecasts, the bombastic speeches about greedy politicians, and corporations and third-rate nations, I feel strangely calm.  Why is that?

There used to be urgency, but it wasn’t in the world.  It used to be the life beat of our church and readiness was its handmaiden, but not now.  Where is the urgency?


Remember camp meeting in the 70s? I do.  I was a child, but the memory still brings a smile to my face.  The summer days were long, and the humid heat was oppressive, but the saints would beat it back, shooing it away with cardboard fans, the saintly face of HMS Richards plastered on their sides, and you know what…there was urgency. 

The message was clear. Christ was returning and it wasn’t in some far-off future, it was soon, and we, the church, would be ready. 

The message pervaded our church and in eager hope, we embraced it.  The exhortations didn’t bother us.  We expected them. 

Now the message gets slipped in, stuck like a forgotten church bulletin, the date reminding us of some event, overlooked between the pages of more comforting themes.  Themes that aren’t necessarily bad, not at all, but not ones that provoke urgency.

Are we embarrassed by our message?  Is this even our message? 

Our institutions change their names: Adventist to Advent, not so frightening, a switch from concrete noun to something softer, less strident, more comforting.  Preachers ask us to question our eschatological foundations, interpreting Revelation as idealistic instead of historical, a battle of ideas rather than entities, the message gentled, domesticated.  Just two politicians debating different policies. 

 Wait…but the politicians are saying that we are in a crisis.  And the church is saying that all is at peace? 

 What is going on here?

“Again, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, look, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’ Therefore, say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done,” says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 12:26-28).