What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.
“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.
Anger as Political Stragegy
Is it effective and should Christians support it?
By Dr. Tom Askew
America’s culture wars have entered a new epoch—the era of anger. Much attention has been focused on the identification of "microagressions," expressions used in casual speech that are perceived as denigrating to individuals who belong to a particular category or class. In response, some schools have established "safe spaces" where offended students can retreat to for refuge and consolation. As may be expected, attention to microagressions has spawned spinoffs, such as "microinsult," "microinvalidation," and "microassault."
In contrast, the once declining "civility movement" is re-emerging. The "World Civility Day" gathering in Gary, Indiana, on April 13, 2017, welcomed delegates from all over the U.S., as well as eight foreign nations.
Christians may look on both phenomena from a quizzical distance. Nurtured from toddlerhood on scriptures like "gracious words are like a honeycomb," "a soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger," or "let your speech always be gracious," the propriety and habit of speaking kingly and circumspectly in public may seem to Bible-believers like a "given."
Are there "macro" aggressions?
Unfortunately, not everyone operates from the standpoint of divine mandates, especially in the current public forum. Public discourse that was once "borderline edgy" is now commonplace, almost always a reflection of anger against real or perceived affronts. And some politicians are noticing…and capitalizing.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recounted that when he was on his company’s negotiating team in Yemen in the 1990’s, he once threw a book and stormed out of a talk. The tantrum was preplanned, according to one person. "Anger is a strategy, not an emotion," Tillerson told his colleagues.
Writing about the impact of anti-Trump protests on Republicans who might fear their popularity will wane if they repeal Obamacare, public relations specialist Dustin McKissen says: "In politics, anger can do strange things. It can motivate. It can clarify. It can unite. And for Democrats, anger may prove more effective than hope at helping the party win back more of what’s been lost over the past ten years."
In Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray advocates strategic anger. "This is a really angry time. And anger is really important. I can remember being young, at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and the protests we did and the anger that existed." He then warns, "But…anger has to be attached to a strategy. And protesting is very important because it’s one expression of anger. We really do need to get on with what are the strategies we want to see, what are the things that we want to actually accomplish?"
Is this the culture we want?
Neil Postman, in his Amusing Ourselves to Death, contrasts the current climate of American politics with the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
In Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854, Douglas opened the debate by speaking non-stop for three hours. When it was Lincoln’s turn, he pointed out that, as it was 5:00 PM., and he was certain to need as much time as Douglas, everyone should probably go home for some supper. They then could all return later to conclude the debate. "The audience amiably agreed," Postman writes, "and matters proceeded as Lincoln had outlined." Reviewer Seamus Sweeney adds: "It’s impossible to imagine any audience today cheerfully coming back for four more hours of anything, let alone ‘talk’."
Given that no one can turn the clock back to the time of Lincoln, is there still a place in public life for respectful discourse? For Christians, the answer must be in harmony with Colossians 4:6, "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person."
Can anger motivate without causing sin? One thinks of Christ overturning the moneychangers’ tables in the temple. "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger." (Ephesians 4:26)
But can a Christian win his political goals without stirring up anger? "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36)
Then you must pray:
- for the abiding peace of Christ, in an age of anger;
- that God will protect elected officials from the temptation to manipulate through anger;
- for bold Christians to model "speaking the truth in love," without offensive words.
Dr. Tom Askew has been an educator in both public and private schools for 40 years, in Hong Kong, Germany, Georgia, and Arizona. He is currently doing educational consulting and instruction for Christian schools in Arizona.
The following expressions and comments are from our members and do not necessarily represent or reflect the biblical, world views or opinions of the Presidential Prayer Team
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