That Time My Liberal and Conservative Friends Got Along on Social Media


Something interesting happened yesterday. As I was wading through all the media outrage about the confirmation of Betsy Devos as Education Secretary, and the all outrage about the media outrage, I began to notice a pattern. Most of her detractors (which seemed to include the majority of those in my social media circles) and many of her supporters (who, while less vocal, aren’t necessarily less passionate) seemed to have one thing in common. The conversation was being driven primarily by her perceived qualifications.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. A person’s qualifications—or lack thereof, as the case may be—are important considerations when hiring for any job. But it revealed to me a gap in my own knowledge: What exactly does the Secretary of Education do? And how can we objectively evaluate her job performance?

Those seemed like important questions, particularly given the extreme vitriol of most of the comments I’ve seen from folks who I know beyond a shadow of a doubt are passionate about teaching, and genuinely love students. So while I set off to do a little research of my own, I decided to try something.

As frustrating as social media can be when it comes to political discourse, I consider my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances to be a very valuable resource, particularly in the field of education. And so I wondered, is it possible to frame a discussion in which folks from all across the political spectrum can contribute civilly and rationally toward the common objective of better understanding of a difficult issue? On Facebook, no less?

Thus far I’ve been very pleased with the responses I’ve gotten to my initial question, and to the discussion that has followed. I’ve heard from parents, grandparents, public school teachers & administrators, college professors, and other concerned citizens. They represent a VERY diverse cross-section of political and religious beliefs. Some vehemently oppose DeVos, some welcome her, and others are reserving judgment. But now we’re about 50 comments in, and there’s been nothing but constructive dialogue from all involved.

A lot of this is just because I have awesome friends, but it’s gotten me curious as to whether or not I might be able to consistently cultivate this type of discussion. If so, that would be of tremendous benefit to me, and hopefully to many others. As a pastor, I preach a message that is consistent and necessary for people from all walks of life, all political persuasions, all philosophical worldviews. To be most effective, I need to understand how others think. I genuinely want to know every side to an issue so that I can know how best to speak Truth into every situation.

So. For those who’ve been a part of the discussion on my Facebook wall already, thank you. For others, I welcome your voice, which you can contribute here. And in the future, I hope to be able to continue to proove that social media discussion doesn’t have to be fruitless.

In the meantime… I’m forming some of my own thoughts and conclusions about this particular debate, which I’ll be posting soon.

The Morning After P.I.L.L.

On the morning of November 5, 2008, I took the liberty of recording several post-election Facebook status updates for posterity. Here are some of the highlights:

  • “The world as we know it is coming to an end.”
  • “Good bye, America.”
  • “An Obama Nation is an abomination!”
  • “We may not have a country left in four years!”
  • “We’ve just elected the Anti-Christ.”

Sound familiar? You might call it the Morning After P.I.L.L. (Posting of Irrationally Lugubrious Lamentations).

Listen, I get the disappointment and frustration. I’ve been there (I just tend to experience it during the primary season rather than in November). What I don’t get is the weeping and gnashing of teeth that inevitably follows every election.

Yes, elections have consequences. Serious ones. But let’s not overreact! America is not going to disappear just because 3 million more Americans voted for Obama than Romney, just like it didn’t disappear during the last four years. There’s no reason for panic or name-calling!

Here’s something I wrote four years ago that is still true:

Am I disappointed that Obama will be our next president? Yes. Am I surprised? Not really. Am I worried? Not at all. I do not agree with his policies, but… he is my president, too. I would still rather live in an Obama America than any other country in the world. I pray for him, and for the decisions he will make. My president has no bearing on my ability or my requirement to live according to the Spirit. I will fail; my God will forgive.

I don’t doubt that the next four years will be hard ones (as these last four have been), but the occupier of the Oval Office has no bearing whatsoever on the way I am to live as a Christian. Might faithfulness require more sacrifice under some circumstances than others? Of course! For those Christians disappointed with the outcome of the election, it’s time to double down on our commitment to preach the gospel, to meet the needs of the poor and needy, to raise our children to know Jesus, and to seek the welfare of our nation, praying to the Lord on its behalf (Jeremiah 29:7).

Further election reflection can wait. I would, however, like to take a moment to affirm everything my buddy Jeff Wright wrote this morning, and to add one thing to it. I think it would go a long way toward improving the state of political discourse in America if we could more charitably attribute good motives to our political opponents. I don’t buy the rhetoric that Barack Obama “hates” America. I think he has very wrong ideas about what is best for our country and her citizens, but I don’t doubt that he genuinely wants to see America and Americans prosper.

Even if I’m wrong about the President, I know that’s how many (and likely most) of his supporters feel. Let’s start giving each other the benefit of the doubt and find ways to work together on the many areas where we can find some common ground. In the meantime, we can start figuring out how best to prepare for the next round of elections.

Over the next couple days, I do want to write a little bit about some of the down-ballot things that happened yesterday around the country (e.g., legalization of pot & gay marriage), but that kind of post deserves more thought than I can spare today.

“The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will.” ~ Dan 4:25

Combing the Net – 6/26/2012

How Facebook Changed Your E-mail and How You Can Fix It — I noticed last week as I was looking up several e-mail addresses on Facebook that everyone now had their real e-mail addresses replaced by a address. I’m not as angry about this as it seems a lot of others are, but it is annoying. I changed my e-mail address back pretty easily, and now someone has made a helpful video to show you how to do it, too.

How We Die — Here’s a chart comparing mortality rates and causes of death from 1900 and 2010. Though the mortality rate has dropped significantly (as the article points out), it was interesting to see how many more people are dying of heart disease and cancer today… unless it’s simply being diagnosed more accurately/frequently. (HT: Trevin Wax)

David Platt, the Sinner’s Prayer, and the SBC — A personal note from pastor David Platt about the resolution adopted last week by the SBC (see here) about the sinner’s prayer. The controversy was sparked in large part by a 3-minute video clip from a sermon Platt preached two months ago. It is sad that Platt has been so misrepresented by some in the SBC, but his response is gracious and heartfelt. (HT: Denny Burk)

5 Problems With Unconditional Forgiveness — Should Christians forgive others unconditionally? Chris Brauns explains why  the answer must be “no” in this short post based on his book Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds. (HT: Head Heart Hand)

Would You Ride These Homemade Water Slides? — Check out the “Backyard Waterslide of DOOM” from a couple different angles. Here’s one:

Awe. Some.

Combing the Net – 5/23/2012

Why Plant a Church in Cookeville? — My friend Bob Wilson will be launching “Sola Church” in the near future. It will be Cookeville’s first confessionally Reformed Baptist church. Whether you have interest in the church plant or not, Bob’s research and design work has resulted in a pretty great infographic, which you can see at this link. It’s the best collection of church-related statistics and demographics that I’ve ever seen for Cookeville and the surrounding area.

Fast Facts on Coffee Consumption — Speaking of cool infographics…

Does Facebook Wreck Marriages? — I must just be in a statistical research kinda mood this morning. Here’s another study.

“Affairs happen with a lightning speed on Facebook,” says K. Jason Krafsky, who authored the book “Facebook and Your Marriage” with his wife Kelli. In the real world, he says, office romances and out-of-town trysts can take months or even years to develop. “On Facebook,” he says, “they happen in just a few clicks.” The social network is different from most social networks or dating sites in that it both re-connects old flames and allows people to “friend” someone they may only met once in passing. “It puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair,” he says. Facebook declined to comment.

This Guy Needs to Resign — A video of a fundamentalist pastor ranting against homosexuals has gone viral. In the last few weeks I’ve posted links to several articles encouraging thoughtful and civil dialogue on the issue of homosexuality (and I plan to publish something of my own on the topic very soon). This is an example of what NOT to say. I’m horrified.

What Has Jerusalem to Do With Athens? — I love Ross Douthat’s columns in The New York Times, but found this one especially interesting. He argues that secular liberalism has no independent basis for morality, and ironically depends on essentially Christian premises in its critiques of religion. Douthat draws from the works of philosophers from Plato to Thomas Aquinas to John Locke to Christopher Hitchens in building his case.

How Should American Christians Observe Memorial Day and Independence Day? — Bobby Gilles’ take on a question that presents itself this time each year to those responsible for planning worship services.

Fire Up the Grill — However your church may decide to observe (or not observe) patriotic holidays, this particular tradition is as non-controversial as they get. Some awesome recipes from the Art of Manliness blog!

Bob Moog: How He Changed Music Forever — Today’s Google “doodle” celebrates a pioneer in the field of electronic music. It’s their best interactive doodle yet, in my opinion! This article will teach you a little about him while you play around on the Google keyboard. In case you need instructions:

Combing the Net – 5/18/2012

Coffee Drinking Linked to Longer Life — This research gives further credence to my firm belief that there will be a never-ending supply of coffee in Heaven.

Why Disco Happened — Everything you ever wanted to know about the rise of disco in the 1970’s, courtesy of the book Uncle John’s Bathroom Reading Plunges Into Music.

Toddlers and Discretion — This blog post was a convicting read for me. I try not to be that guy who shares every detail of my kids’ life on social media, but I don’t often give much consideration to the privacy of my toddlers.

I am sure many of us have noticed a tendency for some parents to put everything on Facebook, Twitter, or their blogs.  Just because the child doesn’t know his privacy is being violated, doesn’t mean it isn’t.  My [teens] would not like if when they were small children I put a lot of stuff about them on the internet.  I don’t think we should assume that just because the kid doesn’t know we’re providing details about him that we should.  It feels a bit like a double standard.

A Classical Christian School Reading List for Grades 6-8 — I’ve also posted the lists for grades 1-3 and 4-5, but now Justin Taylor has helpfully constructed a 13-page PDF file containing the entire list for grades 1-8. It’s impressive! You can download it here.

This is *yawn* reeeealllly *stretch* fascinating…

Combing the Net – 5/17/2012

Why Romney is Dodging the Press — Is the presidential candidate’s image improving because he’s being seen less? Come to think of it, he does look a little dodgy

The Facebook-Free Baby — How social media is changing the way families share their intimate moments, and why this tech-savvy dad is choosing to abstain from posting pictures or status updates of his baby boy in the world’s largest online community.

Why Fiction Is Good for You — Speaking of Facebook, I loved this article that Nancy Pearcey posted on her FB page yesterday about the many benefits of reading fiction.

Why Hunger Games Is Flawed to Its Core — Not all fiction is equally good, though! Here is another great, thoughtful review on Suzanne Collins’ hit series from an author I admire quite a bit, N.D. Wilson. He points out the fact that readers are lulled into a false sense of security and end up affirming and identifying with things they would normally find repulsive, which was also my assessment.

In the Christian ethos, laying down one’s life for another is glorious. In the Darwinian world, self-preservation is the ultimate shiny good. Readers bite the lure of sacrifice, and then blissfully go along with survive-at-the-expense-of-murdered-innocents. Katniss becomes evil–she’s even relieved at one point that someone else murdered her innocent little friend, because she knew that she would have to do it herself eventually. And we still give her credit for being sacrificial…

Josh Hamilton, Relapse, and the Means of Grace — Another good article about Josh Hamilton, one of baseball’s biggest stars, and one of the most outspoken (and authentic) Christians in professional sports. Here are some good videos about Hamilton’s story:

Combing the Net – 7/19/2010

C.S. Lewis on Democracy — A great quote by one of the best minds of the 20th Century.

Facebook Struggles to Track Dead People — As more and more people sign up for FB accounts, more and more FB users become deceased. Have you seen a Facebook “ghost”?

I Write Like — This one was especially fun! Copy and paste a few paragraphs of text sampling your writing, and this gadget will calculate which famous writer your writing most closely resembles. I’m not sure how reliable the results are, though. I tried it twice. My results? Lewis Carroll (wow!) and Dan Brown (gag!). Who do you resemble? (HT: Challies)

Our Church Isn’t “Cute” — Jared Wilson stands up for his “blemished and perfect” church in Vermont. I love it!

Dancing in the Minefields — Andrew Peterson is among my all-time favorite singer/songwriters (and now author!). Not only does he have a brand new CD coming out (my pre-order ought to arrive soon!), but he’s also recorded his first-ever music video, to the song “Dancing in the Minefields”. Check it out!

If I ever get a GPS, I want the Darth Vader TomTom! (HT: Kevin DeYoung)
Vodpod videos no longer available.