Sarah Palin and Baptists

This morning I got the rare opportunity to watch some of the Today Show as a made the bed and cleaned up around the house a bit. I used to be a frequent watcher of the show but with the two kids jumping on the bed and me wanting to play with them in the morning, it occurs less regularly.

Sarah Palin co-hosted the Today Show this morning and it was really funny. I know Sarah Palin is a lightning bolt kind of person – love her or hate her and I always find it fascinating when we get to see people interact that you know don’t agree with each other much less like each other. There’s a segment they do where they’re talking about hot topics, much like The View and they’ve got three people that usually do this segment – Starr Jones, Donny Deutsch, and Dr. Nancy Snyderman with the host asking them questions and them sounding off. I love this segment. I like it when they agree and when they disagree. I like the give and take of someone sometimes conceding and the areas where they’re not willing to compromise.

You know why I like it? I like it because they’re talking and they’re often disagreeing but they’re still obviously friendly with each other. I would like to say this about The View but I think too often there either one side or the other gets villanized and so that’s not dialogue but just yelling over each other.

What made it interesting this morning is that they added Sarah Palin to the mix. It was obvious that one was trying to be a peacemaker for her and spoke up for her while the other two barely concealed their disdain, one more than the other. It’s hard to communicate with people we don’t agree with, yes, but it’s really hard to be in conversation or relationship with people that we don’t respect as people and who we’ve made assumptions about.

Now I’m not defending Sarah Palin….and yes, in some ways I am. Each of these “public” figures that we make judgments about are people too. I’m one of the first people to say that if you put yourself on a national stage than you’re inviting the world to comment on what you do. That’s a given. But to me there’s a line between commentary and being nasty. Talking about someone personally is different than disagreeing with their views or choices. When personhood is brought into the mix – it’s a whole different game.

In a conversation with the Baptist campus minister and one of the Presbyterian campus ministers this morning at breakfast we talked about the assumptions that people make about each of us. Of course if you’re a Southern Baptist or a PCA Presbyterian than you’re conservative and close-minded and you obviously judge people. If you’re a female pastor you’re obviously liberal, you obviously haven’t opened your Bible to read the scriptures, and you must not be the best wife and mother you could be.

I get that we have stereotypes. I get that we all make assumptions based on our experience, the information we’ve been given, our world-view – but if we let that get in the way of digging deeper and really getting to know each other not as labels, views or caricatures but as real, living and breathing people, than we are missing out on just some amazing friendships and conversations but on the gifts of community, fellowship and iron sharpening iron that God gives us.

These two things this morning – watching Sarah Palin on the Today Show and the sometimes awkwardness of the situation and talking with two dear friends in ministry that the theological world would have us on pretty different ends of the mainline denom spectrum – it made both convicted for the times that I’ve been the one to make those assumptions or quick judgments and grateful that God asks us to not just hang out with the people like us.

Who are the people that you make assumptions about? Do you think our country is more “split” or contentious now? Have we made things too personal and mean in our attacking? Does the rhetoric we use have anything to do with the fact that God made each of us as people of sacred worth? Even the people that we may not enjoy? Or is that right out the window?

** What do you think about Facebook’s new “EnemyGraph” application? Are you going to declare your “enemies” or “archenemies”? (that’s a whole different post!)

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