The Rumor

There is a terrible rumor going around. “The problem with the world is them.” That’s the rumor. I hear it spread on the news. And at the water cooler. And in neighborhood churches. And the solution is always the same. “If only.”

“If only they would be more like us.”

“If only they would see it like it really is.”

“If only they would believe this thing about God/politics.”

Or to summarize them all: “If only they would stop being them. And be more like us.”

But I have a suspicion. That the problem with the world isn’t “them.” Once we see that to them, we are the “them,” we see the violent cycle we have found ourselves in. No, the problem isn’t with them. Perhaps part of the problem lies in the rumor itself. Perhaps the rumor says nothing about reality but only speaks volumes about the person who speaks it.

The rumor doesn’t allow the “Other” to be themselves but always beckons them to be “Me.” It manipulates the hearer, making them think that “all would be well” if you would just give up being you, to be like me.

The rumor is a display of pride, not humility. It is a display of power, not weakness. To speak the rumor is not to defend Christ but to defend ourselves. The news that is spread in the rumor is not good for “them,” but only good for “us.” And as such, it cannot be the Gospel, which is good news for all.

We must give up on the rumor. We must pronounce it a lie. But once we do, then the truth emerges. If the problem isn’t with them, then who? Then us. To pronounce the rumor a lie is an act of self-condemnation. That is, to pronounce the rumor a lie is a display of humility, not pride. It is a display of weakness, not power.

And as long as the Church believes the rumor, our hypocrisy will know no bounds. And we will be ignored. Rightly so.

“Look here, now!” the North-Going Zax said, “I say!
You are blocking my path. You are right in my way.
I’m a North-Going Zax and I always go north.
Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth!”

“Who’s in whose way?” snapped the South-Going Zax.
“I always go south, making south-going tracks.
So you’re in MY way! And I ask you to move
And let me go south in my south-going groove.”

Then the North-Going Zax puffed his chest up with pride.
“I never,” he said, “take a step to one side.
And I’ll prove to you that I won’t change my ways
If I have to keep standing here fifty-nine days!”

“And I’ll prove to YOU,” yelled the South-Going Zax,
“That I can stand here in the prairie of Prax
For fifty-nine years! For I live by a rule
That I learned as a boy back in South-Going School.
Never budge! That’s my rule. Never budge in the least!
Not an inch to the west! Not an inch to the east!
I’ll stay here, not budging! I can and I will
If it makes you and me and the whole world stand still!”

Well…
Of course the world didn’t stand still. The world grew.
In a couple of years, the new highway came through
And they built it right over those two stubborn Zax
And left them there, standing un-budged in their tracks.

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9 responses to “The Rumor

  1. Who’s us? Who’s them? If them be people who cannot contain their violent notions then making them more like us would be good. Setting up a straw man as this blog does for the sake of violating the thesis by creating some faux moral high ground is an example of the danger in acting as a judge of those who think them should be us. Its a problem a lot of liberals run into and are rarely able to escape. Liberals always deride those who consider themselves moral yet themselves try to make other conform to their own sense of moral.

    • I apologize but I’m not following your argument here. What “straw man” am I setting up? What faux moral ground is being created exactly? Unfortunately, your response seems to be too vague and general for me to respond to adequately. Maybe you can clarify?

      • The us them paradigm is the straw man and then if it were accurate the us them paradigm being useless. I have a feeling that the us was Ghandi you would be not have written this blog. However it is sincerely doubtful that many people think in terms if everyone was like us the world would be better. Most people have serious self esteem issue to think that way. So the rumor you open you thesis with is not really so much a rumor as it is a creation for the sake of this blog. It is a more accurate opinion to think that most Christians want people to be more like Christ and not like us. And if more “Muslims” got a hold of this they would not being stoning nothing while children looked on in horror. So if there was any truth to this us and them I sure as heck would rather have them more like us as UN us as we really are the us being some self rightous moralist you are attempting to shame for feeling or being themselves to be us. I hope you follow the reasoning this time. If not then there’s not much more to say. There is no us and them. There is only Christlike and not.

      • Sorry my reply was full of errors since this iPad has a mind of its own. I will attempt to correct those errors here.

        The us and them paradigm is the straw man and then if it were accurate the us them paradigm would be useless. I have a feeling that if the us was Ghandi you would be not have written this blog. Since he was the so called worlds idea of great morality. However it is sincerely doubtful that many people think in terms of “if everyone was like us” then the world would be better. Most people have serious self esteem issues to think that way. So the rumor you open your thesis with is not really so much a rumor as it is a creation for the sake of this blog. It is a more accurate opinion to think that most Christians want people to be more like Christ and not like us. And if more “Muslims” got a hold of this they would not being stoning mothers while children looked on in horror. So if there was any truth to this “us and them” I sure as heck would rather have them more like us as UN us as we really are, the “us” of course being some self rightous moralist you are attempting to shame for feeling or being themselves to be the “us.” I hope you follow the reasoning this time. If not then there’s not much more to say. There is no us and them. There is only Christlike and not.

  2. Anne Lamott writes extensively about the “us and them” of how we think. Two quotes that come to mind are:

    “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

    “You can either practice being right or practice being kind.”

  3. We spend so much time complaining about “them”, and so little time praying for “them”. Take politics for example: one look at my Facebook newsfeed will show family and friends forwarding on article/status after article/status about how terrible Obama is for the country, how his policies are going to cause our downfall, how one analyst sees the US turning into the USSR soon (I’m in the south if you can’t tell).

    Yet how often do they pray for the man, which the Bible clearly commands us to do?

    The forwarding of all these articles I feel is little more than gossip, which the Bible warns against.

    One action is motivated out of a high view of God and “forwarding on” His love; the other out of a low view of God and fear.

    If we could just embrace the diversity we see around us, a beautiful tree could begin to grow.

    • Just because people are not forwarding articles doesn’t mean they are not praying for him. Furthermore Jesus made very bold and public statements about the pharasies and saduccees. Don’t replace action with prayer. You thus become on the the pew potatoes that let this all happen. Action and prayer are needed.

      • I agree. But the amount of vitriol used commenting on these “articles” exposes the fact that they’re not praying for the man. I guess I should’ve clarified, it’s not that people down here are just disagreeing with policies, it’s that they are attacking the man’s character, name-calling, fearing the world is crashing down, etc. That’s different.

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