State of the Union

I listened to President Obama’s state of the union address.

A wise old friend of mine split the world into two kinds of people — those of good will, and the others. Mister Obama appears to be a person of good will.

But on every issue, what he addressed was essentially the application of Band Aids.

I mean, every woe he hopes to fix or lessen is a symptom, each of them caused by people acting in their own “interest” rather than in the interests of all.

Ebola would not be nearly such a problem if extreme poverty had been eradicated as it should have been long ago.

Global warming would not be an issue if not for our lust after and addiction to extreme luxury and comfort.

Wars, obviously, would not happen if not for our inability or unwillingness to consider our fellow humans as important as ourselves or our families.

Here is Isaiah, in Verse 61, the prophetic passage Jesus later quoted to introduce himself:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me
1. to proclaim good news to the poor.
2. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
3. to proclaim freedom for the captives
4. and release from darkness for the prisoners,
5. to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
6. and the day of vengeance of our God,
7. to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them:
8. a crown of beauty
 instead of ashes,
10. the oil of joy
 instead of mourning,
11. and a garment of praise
 instead of a spirit of despair.

I numbered the challenges for emphasis because I believe we who think of ourselves as Christian writers, or as both writers and Christians, should consider:

If we think writing is our calling, which most of us do; and if we believe that as followers of Christ we should attempt to model our behavior on his, which is what most of us profess; then we ought to base our mission on his, which Isaiah stated clearly and in detail.

Whether or not we’re anointed, as Isaiah claimed to be, is another issue. Still, I’ll suggest that we at least try to live so that if anointing (inspiration) is available, we can grab it and pass it along.

Back to the state of the union: if we who call ourselves Christians had acted in accord with the teachings of Christ, then surely, over 2000 years, we could’ve created a world in which good will would so obviously prevail that there would be little need for Band Aids.

Mahatma Ghandi famously answered a fellow who asked why, since he essentially followed the precepts of Christ, he was not a Christian. His answer was something like, “If I had ever met a Christian (i.e. someone followed the leading of Christ) maybe I would be a Christian.”

Perhaps he hadn’t looked very wide or hard. I mean, even I with my limited experience could point to several true Christ followers. Still, Ghandi’s point is well taken. Most of aren’t likely to be noted for our selfless, sacrificial behavior.

But to quote from a ’60s anthem, “Don’t think it can’t happen just because it hasn’t happened yet.” History aside, if as writers we think of ourselves as Christians, shouldn’t our primary goal be to awaken readers to what Christ stood for? And if that’s our goal, I’ll suggest we take our cue from Isaiah.

Which is why I believe in Perelandra College, whose mission is essentially to help people of good will promote good will in others, by (1) cheering them with good news; (2) offering solace to the hopeless and brokenhearted; (3,4) leading those in all kinds of captivity toward freedom; (5,6) giving our readers a glimpse of eternity and comforting them with glorious visions; (8) creating and sharing beauty; (9, 10) presenting the multitude of reasons for joy and gratitude, and in all ways lobbying against despair.

So, let’s get busy.