Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Teaching Moment

So now we find that President Obama's speech to students is very much non-political, and that preemptive claim of indoctrination from the Florida GOP's chairman -- who hadn't read a word of the speech before venting about it -- was baseless. To be sure, the GOP had more of an issue with the suggested lesson plan for this speech than the speech itself. But here's the reality check: conservatives' hung up on one line in that plan asking students how they could help the president, a line which was quickly scrubbed. Another reality: would these same conservatives have objected to that line if President George W. Bush had been making this speech? Or President Reagan?

The White House could've prevented all this by simply releasing a copy of the president's remarks at the same time the speech was scheduled. Then again, rational people don't automatically assume a presidential speech to children is a brainwashing mechanism. I wonder how much rationality is in Florida GOP chair Jim Greer, who said "I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology." He later said, "It's a good speech," after actually seeing it.

Teachers will be using this speech as an exercise in critical thinking. I hope critical speaking is in there too, as in thinking before speaking. Or as Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37: "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

A lot of times, we won't have to wait for Judgment Day for our words to acquit or condemn us. A friend of mine says Republicans who went along with this looked like tinfoil-hat fringers. That's not a line you want on your resume if you're trying to win back voters.

UPDATE: I need to add a little context: Jesus was speaking to Pharisees in the above verse who had just seen him heal a demon-possessed man and thought Jesus' power had actually come from Satan. Jesus was talking about blaspheming the Holy Spirit in this context, not politics. That being said, in verse 34-35, He says: "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him." Whether it's in regard to politics, demons, or anything, the bottom line is this: GOD holds us accountable for the words we use as Christians. Even if we think we're in the right, GOD can still say we're wrong if we don't apply HIS principles when we speak and do things the Pharisees' way. It's something I and a lot of people can do better with.

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