November 4, 2020

Dear Friends,

If you don’t have election fatigue by know, you have more stamina that I do!

You may have heard of author Mitch Albom. His book Tuesdays With Morrie made him a best selling author. He has gone on to write more than a half dozen other books, with combined sales of 39 million copies. Mitch lives in Detroit and continues to write a regular column for the local newspaper, the Detroit Free Press.

I’ve decided to turn over the newsletter this week to Mitch. His recent musings on the election appeared in Monday’s edition of the Democrat Gazette. Written before the polls opened, I think his insights are helpful for all of us as we process the chaos that is the 2020 presidential election.

The headline for Mitch’s column: Election will be meaningless if we don’t change our ways. Here’s what he wrote:

My editors asked if I planned to write about the election, and I said yes. Perhaps they hoped I would pen something about the need to vote, a topic I’ve tackled before. But that seems unnecessary. Look at how many people have already voted. We all know the stakes in 2020. At this point, another column on why you should vote would be like bringing an extra trumpet to the walls of Jericho.
To be honest, I am less concerned with what we do Tuesday than what we do Wednesday, Thursday, and every day thereafter. My biggest fear isn’t who sits in the Oval Office come January; if the rest of us keep conducting ourselves the way we have been the last six months, it won’t make a difference.

We have all been behaving badly. I don’t mean every single American citizen, but I do mean wide swaths of us, in all states and in all walks of public life, politics, media, businesses, entertainment. We dog each other. We point fingers. We fight over candidates, judges, medical experts, masks. Almost always these days, exaggeration is chosen over understatement. Anger over calm. Mean over kind.

We have more than taken sides in America. We have tunneled moats. In the name of “our way” we have demeaned, denigrated, destroyed. We’ve lost friends, alienated families, split our communities by lawn signs. We have hurt one another, emotionally and even sometimes physically. Yet far from looking at our guilty hands in regret, we continue to make fists and shake them across the great divide.

Is this who we want to be?

Let me start in my own backyard. The media. I used to be so proud of this business. I would defend it to any critic. I’d point to the need for an independent press as the only thing standing between big power and big money running rampant over the citizenry.

Now it seems we are running alongside them.

Some of us are even carrying their banners.

The partisanship of the news has never been worse. Subtlety is a memory. Asking for balance brings an eye roll, as if asking an adult to finger paint.

Cable news has long been considered slanted, but there used to be an attempt to acknowledge another side. Not anymore. Fox News will regularly begin programs with reminders that you only have so many days left to vote for President Trump and a future, or Joe Biden and earthly destruction. Biden is mocked, referred to with nasty nicknames, and regularly derided for his age and cognitive abilities. In recent days, the Hunter Biden story either leads or is highly featured nightly.

Meanwhile, you can’t find that story on the CNN or MSNBC broadcasts. It doesn’t exist. Instead, Trump gets a daily and nightly skewering on coronavirus, and is the focus and blame for a large percentage of their stories and panels. Even the rare piece of positive data — i.e. last week’s report of record GDP growth for the third quarter — gets the “Yeah, but…” treatment. Snide asides are now woven into the dialogues.

This is bad behavior. It’s also bad, period, because so many Americans get their information from cable news.

The print media used to be different. It used to take pride in standing above such food fights.

Not anymore. In many places, print has abandoned even the pretense of objectivity. It’s very hard, for example, to read the Op-Ed sections of the New York Times or Washington Post and think you’re getting an evenly balanced chorus. (Thursday’s Times featured op-ed pieces with these titles: “How Trump Lowered America’s Standing in the World,” “Trump Killed the Pax Americana,” “Four Wasted Years Thinking About Donald Trump,” “Lies, Damned Lies and Trump Rallies” and, too rich for irony, “Five Great Things Joe Biden Has Already Done.”)

The Wall Street Journal — which leans decidedly in the opposite direction — ran an op-ed last week claiming those in charge of once-traditional newsrooms defend and protect Joe Biden “on the grounds that Donald Trump is a unique threat to democracy and that they have been forced to take commensurately unusual measures.”

If true, that’s the problem. We can’t throw out the rules of journalism because we feel it’s our moral imperative to replace one guy with another. Who put us in charge? Many in our business act as if we’re simply smarter than the common folk who vote, and it is therefore our duty to give those people what’s good for them.

When I watched the recent 60 Minutes interview with Trump — in which he evidenced more bad behavior by walking out before it was done — I took note of one question by the interviewer, Lesley Stahl. She asked, “Can you characterize your supporters?”
It struck me as odd. Would that be asked of Biden? It’s as if those who support the current president are a strange cult, a foreign herd with wacked-out beliefs, instead of nearly half the country based on the 2016 election. Then again, as a Midwesterner, it often seems that many coastal “experts” can’t grasp why anybody out here votes the way they do. That’s not journalistic curiosity. That’s hubris.

And more bad behavior.

Thanks again to all who helped out with last week’s Trunk or Treat. I showed some of these pictures on Sunday morning.

But here again is a photo gallery of how we loved on our neighbors:

He was not formally trained by a rabbi when he was a young man. But Jesus knew more about God and the scriptures than any of the Pharisees in His day, because He had credentials no other teacher could match. We’ll look at Jesus’ confrontation with the rabbis of His day as we turn to John 8 this week.

See you (in person or on line) Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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