Be they about health care, the presidential address to students, or about simply showing respect and support to a president whom you may not agree with and may not have voted for.
These conversations get heated very quickly.
And they get personal.
Because, as is almost always the case, when you are having conversations with real people (be they online or off) about politics--the conversation is never truly about just politics.
It is always about something deeper.
Most people are not driven by politically ideologies. We're just not.
This may be different for the Glen Beck's and the Keith Olbermann's of the world, but I can't talk for them, I'm not them. I'm no talking head, I'm a regular person, as are the people who I have these conversations (and often arguments) with.
Real people are driven by real concerns. Real convictions. Real fears. Real hopes and dreams for themselves and their families and friends.
And most often, at least in the conversations I find myself involved in, these conversations turn religious very quickly.
And then it gets very personal.
Everything is religious. No, really. Religion is the lens we use to look at our lives. It's not simply a set of rules or a statement of belief, our true religion is revealed in our thoughts, words and actions. Religion (at the risk of modern cliche) is very much our worldview, it is defined by how we look at and interact with our world through every day life.
And for us Christians, if we don't agree on a point, we quickly label the other party a Pharisee and go about our business thinking how we have it right and they have it wrong.
While one of these conversations was occurring on facebook today, I received a message on another social networking site that said the following:
I swear I get depressed about this sometimes....I read those responses and feel like weeping.
I'm sure the person who said this to me chose their words deliberately. At least the last one.
When we have a word in the Bible that gets translated to English as weeping, it does so for a very good reason. That being, we have no appropriate word that can describe it more accurately.
When translated to weeping, there is an understanding that the emotion that is being experienced is so powerful that there is no other recourse possible than simply allowing the emotion to erupt from us in physical, soppy, teary-eyed form. Weeping is a result of an intense personal sadness. A sadness, many times, felt on behalf of others who are not experiencing the sadness themselves.
We often read Jesus in the gospels talking to or about the Pharisees. Usually, not in a very awesome way.
We read about the Pharisees being whitewashed tombs and broods of vipers.
We read about the bad things they do "in the name of God" and the way they have distorted the truth.
It gets stuck in my mind how the Pharisees not only refuse to enter into the kingdom, but block the way so that others can not enter either.
We read or hear the speeches of Jesus and the "woe's" that he preached against them. And often we hear the righteous anger in his voice and see the fire in his eyes for what the Pharisees have done and are doing.
Try reading sometime, instead of anger and fire, put quivering sadness in his voice and tears in his eyes.
See if you can hear him weeping for the Pharisees instead of angrily bashing their ways.
See if you can read about his desire to gather the Pharisees to himself as a hen gathers her chicks. His compassion for the Pharisees as his children, people whom he was going to die on the cross for.
Listen to him scream in frustration and despair at their refusal to enter the door themselves, as opposed to hatred for their blocking the way.
I'm sure he wept.
How could he not.