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Unintended Consequences – Spiritual Edition

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So yesterday James Taranto entitled  in his “Best of the Web” newsletter:

It’s Not You, It’s Trump

In it he recounts numerous stories showing up in various, primarily left-leaning, press outlets about how people are having severe mental and emotional trouble coping with the results of the election just past.  One story Taranto shares is about a woman who decides she can no longer carry on a dating relationship she is in due to her angst at the outcome of the election.  The title of the newsletter is Taranto’s quip to summarize the story.  One’s initial reaction to these stories is to laugh.

But Taranto’s title is far deeper than I think even he suspects and I soon found myself quite melancholy.  All the stories he tells, the stories I know personally, and the countless other stories that are simply not public are indicative of something very wrong in our nation.  Should we not as individuals be sufficiently strong emotionally and mentally to withstand such blows without need to act out in any of the fashions Taranto describes?  I think that in our efforts of the last several decades to “help people feel good about themselves” we have made them so dependent on outside stimulus for that affirmation that when it is withdrawn these reactions are actually quite natural.  Does not “It’s not you, it’s Trump” perfectly summarize such a thing.  No longer are we responsible for our well-being – mental, emotional or physical.  Moreover it is not our friends and family that are responsible for our sense of well-being – it is the government.  Let that sink in – it is both frightening and saddening.

This also marks one of the most fundamental places where the genuine Christian message has been lost in the country.  Most people in the country now think of Christianity, if they think of it at all, as a force that tells them they are guilty of some transgression.  And they are actually right about that, problem is they stop looking at Christianity at that point in a effort to find affirmation never understanding that the only true affirmation possible must begin with facing of our screw-ups.  Fact of the matter is, we all have problems and most of them are of our own making.  We think affirmation is someone telling us, “No, there is no screw-up there and if there is it is someone else’s fault.”  But he who tells us such can take their affirmation away as fast as they give it to us.  People who looked to the benevolent Obama and his chosen successor Hillary for such affirmation had it yanked away by the “cold, cruel, uncaring” voters of the nation and just like that they are in an emotional crisis.

Seems to me the affirmation that Christianity offers is quite a bit more reliable.  Christianity does not offer affirmation by telling us there are not problems.  Christianity affirms us, problems and all.  The more we understand our problems, our transgressions, the more affirmed we actually are.   There is no screw-up so bad that Jesus will walk away from you! – How much more affirmed can you be?  Conversely, the more you know your screw-ups the more you know how genuinely affirming that really is.  Bets of all, the affirmation Christianity offers comes from the Eternal and the Almighty.  Pretty steady hand that, not subject to whims like the voters of the nation are.

There is a temptation to write these stories off as the “fringe crazies” and the spotlight on them as due to media pervasiveness, but I think there is a genuine increase in this sort of thinking and emotional imbalance in the nation.  I have no direct statistics, but the statistics that do exist tell me that while the percentage of people in the nation claiming religion has not changed all that much, the people that claim no religion are separating themselves from religion by greater and greater distances.    And so it would seem reasonable that the further from religion one is, the easier it might be to fall prey to the need for affirmation from such unreliable sources.

Talk about unintended consequences!  Our efforts to make people feel better about themselves have robbed them of the best avenue to do just that.  Perhaps as a Church we have concentrated a bit too hard on the convicting part of our faith and ignored the affirming part – perhaps.  However, because true affirmation is on the other side of conviction, I know people often do not listen long enough to get there.  Either way, it seems very unchristian to laugh at these people, tempting though it might be.

Bottom line – somethings government can never fix.  Our emotional/spritual well-being is one of them.  The sooner we figure that out, the better off we will be – all of us.


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