THE FLIPPED SWITCH

People who spend time around me are pretty sure I’m a liberal. People who know me confirm it. They know I’ll talk the weather and family and religion and politics with anyone. I’ll do it with respect, share what I know, and learn a thing or twelve.

Folks also know I’m fairly intolerant of those who lack respect. Talking people down, labeling and demonizing are on my unacceptable list (although I catch myself committing these devilish practices way too often). I have no time for racist “humor,” stereotypes, and intolerance. (I’m kind of intolerant of intolerance – I know it’s hypocritical.)

On Christmas Eve of 2015 the La Crosse Tribune published my letter to the editor. I stated my thanks for the good Muslim neighbors we have in our community. I pledged to be a good neighbor in return. I promised that as Bishop I would lead the La Crosse Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in being good, caring, loving neighbors to our Muslim friends. Since then I’ve been questioned, and I’ve been thanked, and people know where I stand. Folks were not surprised to see me at this month’s community rally proclaiming a welcome to refugees and care for the Muslims in our midst. I’m a good liberal.

But now, as of Valentine’s Day, our daughter is engaged to a really likable Muslim from Morocco. A switch has flipped in my brain. You are no longer talking about some Muslims, you are talking about my future son-in-law. Now it’s personal in a whole new way. It’s not just children of God, it’s family. And I love my family.

8 thoughts on “THE FLIPPED SWITCH

  1. Excellent statement. I especially support that personal political opinions be discussed just that way, personally and not in the Church because that is not the reason I go to Worship. Jesus and his good words is what I’m looking for there. I don’t recall that Jesus stated political views. Love and tolerance are not virtues of any particular political views. They and others are to be the virtues of ALL people. Love to you my friend.

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  2. When my daughter was in the Peace Corp in Bulgaria she met the man she wanted to marry. My brother, a conservative Evangelical called me and asked me what I was going to do about it. I replied, “I’m going to love him. That’s what Jesus desires us to do. What are you going to do?” At least he agreed tpo pray for him.

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  3. Congratulations to the Arends family! What an honor that your daughter foubd someone to love and he loves her in return! Something very sacred about that!

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