Monday, May 25, 2009

More from the Trace...Trail up to an overlook.

More Thoughts On Beautifying America...

Is it just how I'm perceiving things, or have you noticed a judgmental spirit taking hold in America? I suppose I'm thinking about that more now, as I just studied Jesus' words about what is and what isn't proper judging. The Bible instructs us in some areas not to judge and, in other areas, to make some judgments for the purpose of discerning truth from falsehood and also to help others. So much depends on the context and the heart. Well, out of my heart, I can so easily cross the line from judging justly into the self-righteous judging that Jesus forbids.

My beloved and I were doing very well about not watching much media, but I've slipped back into having the TV on more. I've noticed how very much of the news nowadays is based exactly on news anchors and "experts" making judgments about situations. Since our culture now has news available to us 24 hours a day, the news networks have a lot of time to fill. So, in addition to just reporting the facts to us, they now employ all sorts of people to give their very definite opinions about what some person in the news should or shouldn't be doing or how a situation should or shouldn't be handled. Many news shows are now more entertainment shows centered on judging and arguing from a particular viewpoint.

Sometimes, the anchors and experts are very far removed from the situation under discussion and couldn't possibly know what a person's motives were. Nor, are they likely to possess all of the background information that is necessary to properly analyze a situation. Even some representatives of science, who are supposed to be unbiased, use studies and findings to further a particular agenda and a particular set of beliefs. They are critical of those who do not share their viewpoint.

It seems that we, as a nation, are ever fascinated with celebrities -- and many politicians and reality TV show participants and crime victims and other people find themselves in the category of celebrities today. We feel that we have a right to know and judge every detail about their public and private lives. This quickness to judge, it seems to me, extends itself into the blog-0-sphere, as well. This seems to be true whether discussing political events or celebrities or theories of government or religion or how to protect the environment or almost any issue you can think of. So many times, the line is crossed from presenting a well-reasoned line of thought into saying harsh, cruel, and profane things.

This censorious spirit is also found in general conversation, as well. I know two bright and creative young people -- neither of whom know each other -- who have each decided to reject Christianity largely because they view Christians as being judgmental and they don't want to be so. Yet, out of each of their mouths come the most vehemently negative statements about other individuals. I'm not picking on them; I'm just bemused by how easily the sins of judgmentalism and hypocrisy beset us all. Only Christ can help us overcome a critical spirit or any other sin, so rejecting Him leads us back into doing the very things we don't want to do. Romans Chapters Seven and Eight so poignantly describe the frustration of trying to live a righteous life without the power of Jesus. On our own, we all fall short of the glory of God, and we all need the blood of Jesus to redeem us and to purify us and to enable us to live lives of love and holiness.

Back to the media. Some people can handle watching a lot of news during the day, but I have found that I simply cannot. Listening to judgment laced commentary for too long tempts my own inner weakness toward judging and leaves me with an unsettled spirit. It doesn't matter whether I agree or disagree with the opinions stated; either way, it tempts me toward a fretful spirit. I personally am better off if I obtain enough news to know what's going on in the world and to make informed decisions without meditating on it all too much. It's also better if I direct my thoughts about the news toward how I can help and pray, rather than toward criticizing people whom I don't even know. I am happier and more productive if I limit my exposure to the media and the Internet and if I choose wisely those Internet sites which I will and will not visit.

Perhaps, this is one area where we can help beautify our corner of the world -- by rejecting the weeds of self-righteous judging within our own hearts and replacing it with the flowers of compassion, mercy, and true discernment. Perhaps, we can also school our words to speak the best and our ears to hear the best, as well.



Buffy said...

I couldn't agree more!

Everyone (including me) is always judging someone for something. I suppose it makes us feel superior? It is sad that Christians have a reputation for being especially judgemental when we were specifically told that was what we were *not* to be.

Having said that, as you have noted, those who judge Christians for being judgemental are themselves judgemental and negative about other groups of people.

Marie said...

Since becoming a mother 4 years ago, my tendency to judge has gradually disappeared. I think it's due to the humbling experience that motherhood has been for me, and the fact that after my son was born, I was diagnosed with a rare form of arthritis. Before my child, I was super organized, svelte and my opinion at the time I was perfect and knew all the answers. While I never judged out loud, my mind was always thinking about how someone else should get their act together, how I would never do such and such, etc. Motherhood showed me that I did not have all the answers and even when I did have an answer, that answer might not work for someone else.

Also, since becoming a mother, my mind has been too preoccupied with housekeeping, childrearing. and keeping my marriage together to really even think about other people and their situation.

Related to what you have said, though, I have noticed that whenever I listen to talk radio I tend to get a bit more judgemental. I don't even watch t.v. news anymore. My news mostly comes from Google News or the news at the top of the hour on the radio.

Losing my tendency to judge others has been one of the greatest blessings of motherhood (and illness) for me.

As for the Christian reputation for judging, I have to agree. There have been times when people have expressed surprise at my lack of judgementalism. Oddly enough, they judge me by the way I dress (long skirts and dresses) and assume I'm a judgemental Christian!