Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Apolitical Post About Kathy Griffin Prank

I'm late on this...but I just learned a short while ago of the horrible Kathy Griffin image, in which she holds a representation of Donald Trump's severed head.

I'm glad to see that prominent members of both parties have condemned it. Griffin has released an apology, of course. But it's difficult to understand how what she did ever seemed like a good idea to her.

Satire can be a useful means of speaking truth to power and pretense. But rare is the person actually gifted for it. And even those who are gifted for it can step over the line.

Clarence Page just pointed out during an appearance on Greta Van Susteren's show that Bill Maher, brilliant if usually boring, has said that a joke is only funny if there's some element if truth in it. On that score, Griffin's prank was not even close to being funny. Even those Americans who regard Donald Trump with alarm and fear and wish him out of office would never wish him killed.

By the way, this is not a political statement on my part. It's a call for civility. No matter how base or vile one may think Trump's tactics, views, or policies are, there is no place for incivility in one's opposition to him.

And that's not a political statement. I have my own opinions on politics, shared only with family and friends. But I don't share them beyond that circle.

I have become convinced that, except in the rarest of circumstances, pastors should not give their political opinions, endorse candidates, or intimate that one party has an exclusive pipeline to God. To do any of these things is to alienate those who may disagree with one's politics, getting in the way of the pastor's calling, sharing the good news of new life for all who turn from sin and trust in Christ. It is also to denigrate the God we meet in Christ, robbing Him of His glory by subordinating Him to our own preferences.

But I have no qualms about calling out things like injustice, such as discrimination or bigotry, or things like assault on others' humanity or the social compact. Mr. Trump has often used vicious, loveless rhetoric and speaks, as Richard Nixon did, of his "enemies" (i.e., those who disagree with him). But if such words horrify a person, no good can come from them escalating the horrors as Griffin did.

And I was equally horrified by the vile, evil things that were said about recent presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as American incivility and mindless partisanship have increased by the year.

We must do better.

Kudos to CNN for relieving Griffin of her duties. Hopefully, she (and all of us) will learn from this incident.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

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