Friday, March 21, 2008

Nazis and Preaching

No the title isn't a reflective on the German church in 1930s & 40s. Earlier this month, Tigard, Oregon (where I live and preach) was accosted with six instances of Nazi propaganda activities. On several occasions Nazi flags were flown from poles near the intersection of two major freeways (Interstate 5 and Highway 217). In other instances Nazi flags were attached to balloons and flown over the city. Third, anti-Semitic flyers were placed on several doors and found blown all over another Tigard neighborhood.

Several things are interesting to me about this. First, today at our Tigard weekly Pastor's PrayerTime, one of the pastors brought a letter that he proposed sending to the appropriate media & government officials from the churches in Tigard going on record denouncing such activities and asking forgiveness for times when this has been done in the named of (a warped) Christianity. I will sign the letter and do so gladly, although these particular instances of Nazi activities made no mention of being affiliated with Christianity at all.

What struck me was that it was suggested that we mention the letter in our Easter Sunday sermon. It had been mentioned in one sermon on Palm Sunday and others said they would mention it this Sunday. I already know where I am going on Easter Sunday and I don't know that it fits in, but my first reaction was that I am not also sure that I would be comfortable raising the letter from the pulpit as a part of the message. I'll have to give it some prayerful thought. To find the balance between preaching the Bible and speaking to what is on the hearts and minds of the people in the congregation takes wisdom.

But...tragically...I wonder if it is actually on the hearts and minds of the Christians in the pews of my church?

I find it really puzzling that I have heard absolutely no one at our church mention the event. (I had somehow totally missed coverage of it before this morning. It was in our local paper and was all of the Portland television stations. Maybe my media diet is actually working!) But I have heard lots and lots about a young Portland boy who (against his mothers pleas and warnings) was sent on a parental visitation to his abusive father. She had tried to get a restraining order to keep the father away from the boy, but the judged refused. The father promptly drove the boy to the Oregon coast and asphyxiated both himself and the boy in his car. Now both events are terribly tragic. But the for the amount of outrage I heard about the poor little boy to be contrasted with hearing absolutely no conversation or comments about six instances of Nazi activity in our little quiet Portland suburb disturbs me.

Perhaps I should mention the Nazi activity simply to raise the question of why I hear Christian people talking about one tragic event, but not a word about an event that has (at least in my eyes) the potential of threatening many many more people.

What would you do? (I seriously would like to know)

I will let you know what I decide after I have spent some time in prayer.

1 comment:

Milton Stanley said...

It's too late to affect the Easter sermon, but here's what I'd do: nothing. What you describe has all the marks of early-teenage boys trying to be rebellious and outrageous. Seeing religious and political leaders reacting publicly has a minuscule influence on public ethics but gives a massive power-boost to punks who know they can jerk hundreds, thousands, or even millions of chains simply by floating a nazi flag or hanging a noose.

There is a point, of course, where common, public action needs to be taken forcefully and unequivocally. But balloons and anti-semitic flyers (unless threatening specific acts of violence against particular persons) are not it.

Sorry to sound cold, but the grown-ups need to get some perspective.

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