American Politicians Winning Hearts and Minds while Losing Souls
by Rev Michael Bresciani
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It is no secret that one of the most powerful tools in public speaking is humor. No matter how glum the subject matter if the speaker can get the audience laughing at some anecdotal story, joke or wisecrack the crowd relaxes and the rest is a piece of cake. Hillary Clinton is a seasoned speaker who craftily used the humor factor on the Jay Leno Show Thursday evening April 3, 2008.
As Hillary took the stage on the Leno show which was taped in Burbank California Kevin Eubanks cranked his band up to play the theme from the famed “Rocky” movies. Touting her as the underdog who can still shape up to knock em all dead it started the segment off on a light note. Hillary raised the level of hilarity by saying “It is so great to be here, I was so worried I wasn't going to make it. I was pinned down by sniper fire"
Staving off the serious question Leno was bound to ask about the now famous Hillary “misspeak” Clinton once again wielded her craft as a master politician by diffusing what might otherwise have been a dark moment later in the show.
Ironically a later segment of the show meant to be even more hilarious turned more somber when contrasted against Hillary’s frivolity.
Leno corralled a few passers by, some who were college students and asked them a few questions that almost anyone would know the answer to. Almost anyone that is; except all of those questioned by Leno.
Not much was funny about a male nursing student who had no clue about who Florence Nightingale was. Another young man giggled and whispered into Leno’s ear who he thought John Hancock was; that answer was bleeped! One girl answered that Benedict Arnold was probably a rock singer.
Its only entertainment after all so what’s the big deal? Was it the musical equivalent of cognitive dissonance or an accidental comedy flip flop where what was intended to be serious became laughable and what was intended to be funny illumined a tragic truth about America?
The Constitution wisely says the Congress shall make no laws regarding religion and that is why we have the department of Health, Education and Welfare and not the government office of “Body, Mind and Soul.” The Bible and the church are left to deal with man as a “tripartite” creature made in the likeness of God. If report cards had to be issued for either the government or the church would they get a passing grade?
American health care may be near shambles but our bodies are generally in good shape except for the rising tide of obesity and the looming portent of aids especially among African Americans. What politicians and presidential candidates are building their platforms on has more to do with how we are going to pay for healthcare not what shape our bodies are in. This theme has been vigorously enjoined by McCain, Clinton and Obama.
Education is still a major point in political rhetoric as it has been for several generations now but the record shows that no candidate has offered more than the promise of throwing more money at the problem. So far that has not worked.
Even though homeschooled children consistently score higher in any tests the state or federal government can come up with it is fast becoming an uphill battle for homeschoolers. New York State has laws for homeschoolers that make jumping through burning hoops look like child’s play. California has slammed the homeschoolers and the backlash is a near exodus of people who still think their children’s education is their business not the states.
With some states reporting a high school drop out rate as high as 35 percent; other states have been sending police to escort frightened students who fear for their lives to their respective schools. It is a little easier to understand why some kids think Benedict Arnold was a rock and roll star. The popular show “Who’s Smarter than a Fifth Grader” doesn’t have to look very hard for contestants and the field extends all the way to post grads apparently. No insult intended to those who still work hard at education, the naturals or the geniuses in America however few they may be.
While presidential candidates manage to downplay race issues, explain away elaborate lies in campaign speeches and still get laughs and accolades on late night TV shows, the preachers and theologians are left to deal with the last but not least, our souls. How are they doing?
If we are to believe Oprah Winfrey’s Tollenesian spawned new age musings the answer would be “everything is hunky dory.” It’s a happy, happy new earth where dat ole man river, he just keeps rollin along according to Oprah’s new mentor. Elkhart Tolle and friends are assuring America that there’s no sin, we are our own saviors and Christ died for nothing. Over a half million people in America opted into Oprah’s latest offering of nebulous new age ether raising the question yet once again; who is smarter than a fifth grader?
Don’t worry all the men and women who are preaching the gospel and teaching the Bible have not been blown away by new winds blowing in from directions not found on any compass. Many of the faithful are still plugging away and skillfully “contending for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3)
Over forty years ago while passing a large graveyard I was asked by a friend if I knew just how many dead people there were in that cemetery. I quickly replied that I had no clue. My passenger retorted with “all of them.” It was hilarious at the time but gets less humorous each time I hear it. It took me years to form a much more important question about the population of graveyards and no hilarity can be attached to it.
The question is “how many souls are in the graveyard.” The answer is no surprise to the Biblically grounded but it is still almost totally miss-understood by every one else. Quite simply, there are no souls in any graveyard, not even one.
The scriptures warn, promise and elaborate that man is indeed “tripartite” and at the end of life, the host (body) is laid aside and returns to dust. The life of man does not hang around in the dust. The sentient, cognizant and personal part of man (soul) removes to other quarters but can never be destroyed. Judged, yes, but never completely destroyed.
Our health, education or our welfare has little to do with how the soul fares after death. The soul of man holds little interest to the politician and perhaps that’s as it should be. What should not be ignored is the spiritual, theological or moral stand of the candidates. Ignoring one “soul” for the other “sole” is not good politics at any time. The other “sole” being the sole attention being given to healthcare and education. It is a focus that is bound to become a blur if we continue to make light of racism, hatred and public lying. Is all that something to laugh about?
The tenants of the Bible are neither funny nor overwhelming. In an article published in June, 2004 Christianity Today also in The Voice of the Martyrs April 2008, writer Andy Crouch said “the Bible is not a make-up mirror, casting a flattering soft light and showing us mostly ourselves. It is a window into a larger world…full of tragedy and hope. The hope where God’s Word becomes flesh…Great advances in demonstrating the Bible’s relevance rarely comes from the restless minds of marketers. They come from people who dare to obey what they read. On the cruel edges of the world, there is no need for elaborate explanations to bring distant biblical text closer to our lives. Rather, when we go to the cruel edges of the world, we bring our lives closer to the text.”
It is the truth in the scriptures that make it virtually impossible to separate our lives from the text even if we are not believers. Ignoring that inseparability may seem like the better part of discretion in political rhetoric but it is the part that will undue the nation if ignored completely in all politics or our daily lives.
In Christ’s teachings body, mind and soul are never separated they are only given a new abode in a place where health, education and welfare will never be an issue. To wit: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die…” John 11:25-26
Rev Michael Bresciani is an author and columnist for several online sites and magazines. His articles are now read throughout the world. For more articles, news, movie reviews and more visit The Website for Insight at http://www.americanprophet.org
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