Nancy and I had a brief conversation this morning. She likes the stream of thought I'm in right now. Hence, I've decided to post more frequently to my blog and Facebook. I'm not too worried about how much of an audience I get. It's more important for me to just get my thoughts out there. As we talked this morning we both agreed that we seem to do our best stuff when we labor in obscurity.
With that in mind, my latest follows. It's titled "THE COME TO JESUS MEETING." I hope it strikes a chord or two.
There’s a lot of talk nowadays about religion invading the public sphere, most of it negative. Some of it’s justified. Some of it isn’t. One thing you don’t hear a lot of is the spillover from the public square to the realm of religion. It’s interesting, really, and it’s rarely noticed. Modern businessmen, politicians, economists, environmentalists¸ and pundits sound eerily similar to the Calvinists of 16th century Europe. And, listening to 21st century politicians gives one the sense he or she is sitting in a pew or a New England meadow while Jonathan Edwards preaches his “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.”
I first encountered this phenomenon in the corporate world. I’d been assigned to duties at FedEx’s corporate headquarters. Working in a corporate environment was interesting enough by itself. When religion got mixed in it became absolutely fascinating.
The centerpiece of corporate labor is the “meeting,” with e-mail reading coming in a close second. It was upon getting wind of one of those meetings that I got my baptism (note the religious language) into the ways of the corporate environment.
One of my peers came by my office at about 8:30. She peeked in and said, “Well, I’m off to a come to Jesus meeting. We’re gonna’ get that Gateway project hammered out if it’s the last thing we do.” My curiosity was immediately aroused. “Is logistics invited to this meeting?”
“I’m afraid not. It’s just sales and finance.”
“You don’t suppose I could crash it, do you? I’d really like to see what Jesus has to say about the Gateway project.”
I got a look of cool disdain in response and off she went.
I never did find out what Jesus said at that meeting, but I’ve occasionally given thought to what he might have said had he been there. Calvin Coolidge once said that the business of America is business. And, of course the heart of business is profits. I can almost see’ Jesus’ PowerPoint presentation as I write. I can see barns, followed by bigger barns, and bigger barns yet. The trend lines are quite impressive. They look like hockey sticks, starting on the low scale in year one and rocketing into the stratosphere as the years pass. Business couldn’t be better. It’s time to “eat, drink, and be merry.” Then Jesus abruptly shifts gears. “You fools!” His eyes are piercing, burning their way right into souls. “This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
I think there are a lot of times when business folk try to use Jesus as some sort of clever business tool to gin up the profits or “evangelize” customers. It’s almost impossible for them to imagine a Jesus who might say, “Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.” If they only knew, I don’t think they’d be nearly as preoccupied with squeezing Jesus into their business model. They’d be pleading for mercy instead of poring over spreadsheets.
The business community is often shameless in the way it tries to co-opt Jesus to further corporate ends. Politicians, however, are beyond being shameless. They seem to be perpetually in campaign mode. Their stump speeches are full of religious language – “We’ve got to get the ‘word’ out.” “The oceans will recede.” “We’re on a great crusade to reclaim America.”
We’ve heard it all so often it’s become like white noise. We’d like to believe them, but we know we can’t. We know it’s hypocrisy. We see them going in poor and coming out rich. We see it and we know. They think we’re living under a veil of deception¸ but we’re not nearly as dumb as they think we are.
No, as much as politicians love to use the language of Holy Writ, they really wouldn’t want Jesus to get into the middle of their stump speeches, their sumptuous feasts with the lobbyists, or the scheming done in executive session. They’d be squirming from the moment the first word was uttered. “Woe to you, because you love the most important seats and greetings in the marketplaces.” “Woe be to you because load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known.” “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear of the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”
Do I think these 800 words will change much? I doubt it. Once religion gets co-opted and perverted it becomes a constant matter of trying to pull camels through the eyes of needles.