You may have heard that in the middle of President Obama’s healthcare address to congress last night, Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina heckled the president.

It is not my intent to talk about that incident.

Neither do I wish to discuss healthcare reform here, although perhaps I should do that sometime soon – if only to educate myself.  (I do have strong opinions on the matter in general, but I do not know the specifics of the various bills currently before congress.)

Rather, I’m concerned that the same acrimony that seems to be dividing both the political landscape and the country as a whole is doing the same thing to the Church.

Christians have moved beyond honest disagreement.  We speak in ways that attempt to build ourselves up, while being unconcerned that we are tearing others down.  We try to discredit the character of others rather than debating issues with civility.  Our words suggest that people of integrity can hold only one viewpoint.

This is wrong.

Fourteen times in the NRSV version, we are told to “love one another”.  In fact, Jesus notes that if we manage to do that (as well as loving God), we’ve pretty much done everything required for a successful life (as judged by the only judge who matters).

Part of this loving is acknowledging when we have failed and forgiving each other for our failures.  I note that Representative Wilson has apologized, and I would suggest that we get past our political cynicism and let this one go.  Maybe he and the president could go have a beer together.

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