Sunday, October 19, 2008

Crossing the Line

I watched SNL last night. It was Sarah Palin night. She did a nice job. The cast poked appropriate fun at her. The audience numbers were out of sight.

Earlier in the week both John McCain and Barak Obama took humorous aim at each other at the Al Smith Catholic Charities fund-raising dinner. It was fun. Both McCain and Obama let their hair down (so to speak) and looked like they were having a good time.

I like it when things like this happen. It humanizes people. We get to see that elusive other side of their personalities. The ability to poke fun, receive the poke and still have a great time is something we all need to be able to experience and do.

There's nothing wrong with having a little fun. I wonder though if we don't take it too far. Is there a danger in having fun at the expense of belittling an office or a position of authority?

Do we really value the office of President? Do we value the position of authority and leadership bestowed on people we work with and for?

My take is that we have become far too casual about humanizing everything at the expense of not cherishing much.

When I critique the President does it slide into disrespect for the office?
When I disagee with a pastor do I undermine his/her calling?
When I gossip about my boss does that undermine his/her authority?

When does my critique, disagreement, and gossip cross the line and really starts eroding confidence in legitimate authority?

I wonder if we cross the line too much.

I know people who don't like George Bush. I can accept that. But when does that dislike cross the line into disdain for the office of President. When do we cross the line into belittling one of God's creations?

I know people who are saying all kinds of scandolous things about Barak Obama. Do these people value him as a human being? Probably not. If they did they wouldn't be saying what they're saying in the manner they're saying it.

I'm a pastor. I know people who don't like me. Hard to believe isn't it? But is there a line when dislike for me or any pastor is crossed and dislike turns into undermining the pastoral role?

We all work for somebody. When does water-cooler talk become so personal that it destroys office morale and impedes the ability of leadership to lead?

Where's that line?

Don't get me wrong. Presidents need to be critiqued. As a pastor, disagreement comes with territory. Not every decision by a boss is the right one. But there's a line that is crossed at times that I think does us more harm than good.

I think we have become so 'casual' about people, issues, roles, God-given authority ...that we hold neither the person or the position as sacred. We like it when we can laugh and have fun at the expense of elected officials. But do we really believe that the person has worth and that the office has merit.

That's our dilemna. Are we willing to raise high the value that all people have worth? Are we willing to respect the office or authority given (that doesn't mean giving up the right to speak out)?

How do we not cross that line?

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