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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Humanity, Rage and Grace

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So my day began with Hewitt’s interview of Thor Hearne, an exploration of regulatory over-reach and its life partner over-zealous prosecution.  Only to be followed-up by Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt in which he tackles the Silicon Valley media elite:

If Whitlock’s assessment is right, then our media today is driven primarily an ostentatious, smug progressivism…

On the one hand we have actual over-reaching regulation and on the other we have a sort of social regulation where shaming and smugness carry with it a force not unlike the force of government.  It makes for a pretty clear picture of what voters rejected so forcefully in the last election.  They are tired of their government and their social “masters” dictating to them in this fashion.  America really is supposed to be about not having “masters.”

And it explains the public rage that erupted in the wake of United 3411.  The Wall Street Journal carried an excellent article on the “rules-based culture” of United Airlines, and how it stifles common sense.

Another former airline executive said he believes Mr. Munoz, “didn’t realize how rule-based the employees are. The huge rule books need to be burned because crazy shit happens,” the executive said.

And of course, the rules books exist because of government regulation:

Airlines crave consistency, experts said, and United isn’t unique in its strict focus on rules. For carriers—which face government scrutiny on everything from pilot training to repairs—the tomes of rule books can help ensure safety protocols are followed.

Makes perfect sense, when you have the government breathing down your neck to bust you at any opportunity, your going to have lots and lots of rules to make sure you don’t get busted, and suddenly you end up with crazy, well….you know.

This phenomena is precisely what Hewitt and Arnn were discussing this past Friday (links behind the Hughniverse paywall) as they worked their way through C.S. Lewis’ “The Abolition of Man.”  And while Lewis avoided overt Christian expression in that short book it, in many ways, encapsulates a big part of what Jesus public ministry was all about.

Think about all the quizzes Jesus suffered at the hands of the religious officialdom of the day.  As just one example consider the opening paragraph of Mark 3:

He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered.  They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.  He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!”  And He *said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent.  After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He *said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.  The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

Here we see Jesus pointing out how ludicrous the rules had become (healing, because it was “work,” was forbidden on the Sabbath, despite the great good it created) and yet the officials were so bound by the rules that they actually plotted against Jesus for healing someone.  It’s like William Atherton’s character in the original Ghostbusters movie that shut down the ghost containment unit, releasing complete havoc on NYC, because the device was not approved by the EPA.

A huge part of what Jesus tried to accomplish in His public ministry was to put common sense in front of the rules.  What Lewis points out in his book is that when the rules override common sense, we abolish ourselves – we cease to be men and women and become instead something much less.  The rage that came in the wake of United 3411 starts to make perfect sense.  People are apt to rage a bit when their humanity is somehow abolished.

What’s interesting is that Jesus did not rage in the face of having His humanity so abolished – He gracefully accepted what came His way, and in so doing the world was unalterably changed.

The rage so easily rises these days, and we feel our humanity being abolished bit-by-bit.  But we need to replace the rage with grace – it is the example that was set for us.  The world will change as a result.


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