Month: December 2016

Keeping Watch

On the night Jesus was born, the shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks by night. After the Lord’s birth, they were the first to get the news from the angel. They came and saw what they were told, and then told others what they had seen.

Keeping watch, a simple task, or so it would seem. While not an educated position, it required what most of us would likely not be able to do. It required presence. This is not a job that could be done from a distance. They had to actually lay eyes on the sheep and their surroundings to see that they were safe. It also required vigilance, so nothing foreign not belonging in the flock crept in. A quiet flock tended not to pay attention when danger was near. These men led their flocks from the front; they did not drive them from the rear, as cattle. They spent much of their lives in isolated places, looking for green grass, always for the sheep. It was their job, and often their life.

It seems conservatives are “watch-keepers” as well to a large degree. They realize that change is natural, but also are concerned that change comes naturally. If things move too quickly, the past gets left behind, and history is forgotten. The permanent things will be abandoned for the latest utopian idea of fixing all the problems of the world. Each new generation of “fixers” brings a reflexive experiment or two, or six that is supposed to make everything wonderful. It may look good on paper, but they tend to forget two important things: humans devised the plan and humans are expected to implement it as written. Both are fraught with error. Change comes as needed, not as forced. It takes a large entity (such as a powerful central organization) to force the change, immediately.

Looking back to history, we find that there is “nothing new under the sun” and that most quick fixes have been tried, many times. Stability has its advantages, and to throw it to the wind is to invite chaos. The French revolution is the classic example. The overthrow of the royalty resulted in thousands of deaths in the utter anarchy that resulted, and the effects are still being felt. The same thing happened in Russia with the overthrow and death of the czar and his family. While not the best ruler, the ones following conducted purges that killed millions of people and locked many countries into a slave-oriented lock-step existence. Those in power considered themselves to have the “best” answers.

Conservatives know that they do not have the best ideas over anyone else, but they also know that no one person or small group does either. As with the shepherds, we cannot keep watch from a distance, but can keep watch more effectively locally, where we can sit at tables and counters and talk. Thinking people need to communicate, and not throw phrases at each other from across the country.



Guessing Game

What did they miss? Those who were confident in the outcome of the election before the polls opened were stunned when those polls closed and the returns began coming in. What happened? Part of the explanation is that Christian voters turned out to make their voices heard. Among other reasons (such as wishful thinking), there was the outright misunderstanding of what Christian voters would do.

Some of those who expected Christians to vote a certain way just do not understand the Christian mindset at all. Others, who have had just enough Christianity to make them miserable  (like a flu shot), and have a preconceived idea of what they believe Christians should do based on their little experience and learning  likely never got it in the first place. This is not to doubt that stereotypes do exist, and often with good reason, but they do not deserve a blanket categorization of what ought to be.

The fact is there is no predicting what Christians will do and how they will vote. There will be a general worldview that most will follow. Yet, they are human, and subject to fallibility. In spite of those who believe Christians think themselves as being always right, we know differently. Additionally, we also receive the expressions of anger and frustration from those who think they had us figured out, and we didn’t respond as they had expected. It will be more productive when others realize we are not the enemy. We may be voting our conscience, but only the individual believer and God know what that is.

Getting Ready

It is good to see a person who is accustomed to getting things done to begin doing them before he actually takes over the position for which he has been selected. This is true in any organization, council, legislature or chief executive. Preparation for the first day is most important and getting the right people in place is essential.

These lessons are learned by education surely, but mostly by experience and trial and error. If the error produces valuable lessons, they have been not been wasted. This type of confidence in judgment is an example, and a departure, from many of those who have tried to begin fresh and head in a new direction. Some have done better than others, but none I can recall have begun like we are seeing before us now in everyday news. There is sniping, as expected. There is also praise, as expected.

The proof will be in the continued preparation and doing of the job. My guess is the new guy will take responsibility, because that is what he is used to doing, and will only have himself to blame if things do not go well. He will also be able to receive credit for preparing for the biggest challenge he has faced so far. I do love to see a job well-done, and have a vested interest in seeing it in the next months and years. No whining! Let’s go to work.