Jim Wallis Wishes Sarah Palin Ill

Jim Wallis Wishes Sarah Palin Ill

Shane Raynor reports on a blog post by Rev. Jim Wallis on Sarah Palin in which he says:

Please don’t invoke your “Christian faith” anymore and embarrass the people of God even further. May your efforts to scare Americans during this important debate fail. May your political future also fail, and may your star fall as fast as it rose just a few months ago — because we now know who you really are.

I thoroughly disapprove of the statement that Sarah Palin made which triggered this quote, yet I think a Christian and particularly one Biblically educated should not use the phraseology used. It is the language of cursing. It sounds very different to me than simply stating that one hopes Sarah Palin is not successful in seeking higher office.

I’m not sure of the remedy, though apology seems to be at least one step, but I’m certain that this is not the type of language I like to read. I have considerable respect for Rev. Wallis in many areas, but this is disturbing and inappropriate.

I was even more disturbed by a comment to Shane Raynor’s post in which the commenter suggests that Raynor is in a glass house throwing stones.

I can’t speak conclusively to Shane Raynor’s fairness, though I have always found him to be fair in his blog posts, though I do frequently disagree with him. The problem is this: We all live to some extent in glass houses. I have previously apologized for things I said on this blog, and there are perhaps things that remain for which I should apologize.

Yet we cannot clean up dialog if we can never speak about such things simply because someone who is perceived to be on the same side has also said something wrong. Yes, we should notice the problems of both sides, but we can’t let that keep us from dealing with the problems at all.

There are some very serious issues involved in the health care debate, and they are getting drowned out. I don’t see that as the fault of only one side. There are certainly people over the edge on both sides. We neither need to defend them, nor do we need to be silenced by embarrassment at their actions.

And when those of us who wish to see constructive dialog step across the line of civility, we need to be prepared to apologize. The idea that a misstatement, such as an exclamation made (or even written) in anger should be the end of the road is another destructive view in American politics. To err is human; it’s only a problem if one sticks stubbornly with one’s errors.

9 thoughts on “Jim Wallis Wishes Sarah Palin Ill

  1. Thanks. I wish I thought that your reasoned attempt to turn our public debate toward at least civility, and, ideally, disagreement expressed in Christian love, would happen.

  2. Since I am the one who disturbed you then I will attempt explain.

    “We all live to some extent in glass houses. I have previously apologized for things I said on this blog, and there are perhaps things that remain for which I should apologize.”

    This was my point exactly. It seemed strange to me for Mr. Raynor to call out Jim Wallis for being uncivil when some of his own words could be construed as uncivil. I agree that we all live in glass houses and therefore we should all refrain from harsh judgment There is a difference between holding one accountable and passing judgment. I felt that I was doing the former and not the latter and if I cross the line then I apologize.

    I hold to my assessment that Jim Wallis did not “curse” Sarah Palin, but hopes that her political and public influence fades into the night. Did he go over the line? Perhaps it is all in the eye of the beholder.

    1. Thanks for stopping by to clarify.

      I see what Jim Wallis said as a curse because I hear the language of cursing. “May she not …” That is not our normal form of speech, and it is the kind of phraseology used in cursing or in an imprecatory prayer. You are right that this will be in he eye of the beholder, and perhaps it is that my primary exposure is to the Hebrew scriptures.

      Had Wallis simply said, “I hope she doesn’t succeed in politics” or “I hope she doesn’t win election” I would have heard it differently. I suspect he knows the difference. But again, I admit I may hear him wrong.

      As for glass houses, the problem I see is that if I point out one issue with one person, those on the other side of the spectrum agree, but those on the same side want to point out how many faults and failings I have let pass in silence. The fact is that I may not even be aware of them. I don’t think I have to catch every transgression of every public figure in order to comment on one.

      As for Mr. Raynor, while I often disagree and I often find his rhetoric vigorous, I haven’t felt he was systematically unfair. But again, I don’t have a strong enough sample to debate you on that one …

  3. Henry, I read you on Ed Brayton’s recommendation some years ago, but I’ve become a little disenchanted. I think you’ve gone too far down the wishy washy path. When someone injects sheer lunatic falsehoods into a public policy debate it is worse than uncivil, it is actively destructive to the democratic process. You wrote

    There are certainly people over the edge on both sides. We neither need to defend them, nor do we need to be silenced by embarrassment at their actions.

    Count ’em up, Henry, and tell me that the bellowing of the right about death panels is ‘balanced’ by anyone supporting health care reform.

    1. Hmm. Interesting note, though I don’t see how I’ve become wishy-washy. I’ve been concerned that I’ve spent too much time on religion rather than society, but that’s just a matter of what I’m reading. That said …

      I am not opposed to strong statements. If Jim Wallis says that he will work tirelessly to oppose Sarah Palin and all she stands for, if he calls her statement false, which I believe it is, I’m right with him.

      I have a technical quibble with calling it a “lie” simply because I believe that to be a lie one must know it’s false and state it anyhow. I don’t think that’s giving a politician a break. Providing unknowing false information when you should know is not substantially better than lying.

      What I’d like to hear would be a debate between actual laissez faire suggestions for improving health care vs various government mixes up to one-payer, but I don’t think we’re going to see that.

      I truly ought to contribute some myself, shouldn’t I? But I’m too busy trying to keep my small business growing, and I have only read small sections of the bill myself.

      Finally, though this is already long for a comment. I don’t hear the same level specifically on health care on both sides right at the moment, but I think that’s because each side chooses their points on which to go overboard.

    1. I have to say that I like Josh’s rant, both because I agree with him on almost every point, but also because I think that as a rant it’s quite substantive.

      Very vigorously expressed, but substantive.

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