Point of Reference
by Fred Price
I generally try to be positive with everyone, and my comments now hopefully won’t be interpreted as an attack on anyone. However, ongoing news coverage of three individuals, and the issues they represent, seem to me to be symptomatic of society today.
The one featured Melissa McCarthy, a plus-sized actress who has gained a fair amount of acclaim over the years; appearing on the cover of Elle magazine, draped in an over-sized coat. Some immediately took offense and tweeted their displeasure over the “fact” of the photographer’s attempt to hide her rather robust figure in voluminous layers of cloth, ignoring the fact that this particular issue was – at least in part – promoting winter wear, specifically coats.
I’ll qualify my next comments by saying I’m not against overweight people, but rather pro-healthy. In fact, I need to lose 20 pounds myself and have fought my waistline for most of my life. Having said that, it’s well documented that Ms. McCarthy’s weight has been openly discussed by her and others and she is famously known as saying that she is comfortable in her own skin – content with who she is as she is – although she then lost a considerable amount of weight – for a while – and that’s fine. But the truth is, she is not at a healthy weight, most medical professionals considering patients that heavy as morbidly obese.
This is a private issue – until you make it a public one – at which time you invite both supportive and opposing comments. The real issue however, is are you willing to accept the possible ramifications of risky behavior, if so then it’s entirely your business. The problem arises when people get caught up by those possible ramifications and then expect others to share the blame, explain the cause away or help pay the cost of the now unwanted consequences. (Equally true of so many “social issues” today.)
Many have risen to defend and promote Ms. McCarthy’s inner beauty and to actively campaign for a more accepting attitude of large people. And I understand what they’re saying. But let’s not call white, black or right, wrong. Ms. McCarthy is, I’m sure, a beautiful person in her own way, but she is not necessarily a healthy one deserving of emulation by a nation of kids who are increasingly growing up sedentary and obese.
Next is Senator Ted Cruz’s take on government shutdowns and possible default of the government’s fiscal responsibilities. And again, I must say that I defend Mr. Cruz’s right to be heard, to believe strongly in the principles he advocates and to work hard to promote them. But I strongly disagree with his take on the issue of fiscal responsibility, then and now – not so much the root of the issue but the extremes to which he wants to go to deal with them, and his approach in negotiations with his adversaries in the Democratic Party; negotiating the issues – to him – means defeating everything the Dems hold dear while pandering to the principles of the Tea Party agenda.
What really galls me though is the pronouncements being made by him and his associates, claiming that the many fiscal ordeals we’ve been put through amount to victory for their “side”; when everyone knows that in the end, they have had to compromise with the more moderate voices of the Republican and Democratic parties to get anything done. Besides hurting people all across the country, they worsen the public’s perception of the Republican Party in general and make what’s left of the Tea Party in particular look out-of-touch with their own leadership as well as dismissive of many of the people across our country who don’t, or who will no longer identify themselves with either party. (The recent ridiculous battle over the leadership of the House driving even more moderates to despair in the past few weeks.)
And then there is the interview given by Cory Booker, when he was newly elected as Senator for New Jersey, all the while insisting that he was able and willing to work with Gov. Christie, but that he supported Mr. Christie’s opponent in the gubernatorial elections. He then insisted that he did so because the Democratic candidate was so much more in tune with the majority of New Jersey’s citizens – even as he acknowledged Gov. Christie’s commanding lead in the polls; which would not be the case if he were as out-of-touch as Mr. Booker seemed to believe. (What he and others routinely do is create the illusion of truth, which – if repeated often enough – takes on the aura of reality and is then more likely to be accepted as the truth by prospective voters. A craft masterfully practiced by Donald Trump and his supporters. Repudiated by a number of his own administration officials, repeatedly ruled against in court concerning his “proof” of massive voter fraud in the last elections; he still pedals his story and is supported vehemently by the radical right and others.)
Self-delusion is even more apparent in the attitudes of non-Christians who try to explain their perception of God and their supposed relationship with him, believing God is so good and so filled with compassion and love for them that he could never condemn them or anyone else to hell. Which is diametrically opposed to what scripture – God’s word – says. (See Luke 12:5) For even as Christ’s primary purpose in coming to us was to redeem us from our sin – and therefore not to judge us ( John 12:47), he did call for us to repent of that sin as a precondition of the redemption he offers us. (See John 3:16,17) If that doesn’t happen, his role as a judge is forced back on him and he will exercise it appropriately. ( Acts 17:31; Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1 & Hebrews 9:27,28)
And then there are those in the church who have never been convinced that as much as Jesus is our Savior, he wants and expects to be our Lord. Those who neglect or ignore his call to follow him not just to salvation but to service to him and others through obedience are as ill-informed and self-deluded. ( Matthew 20:25-28; Ephesians 2:8-10 & 4:11-13) Jesus himself warning that, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 (See also Matthew 25:31-46, Titus 2:14 & 2 Corinthians 5:10)
Manipulation of the facts is never the answer. Sober reflection and acceptance of reality is. (With a resolve to legitimately change things when and where we can.) Jesus assuring us that, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31,32
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Fred Price - married (50 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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