Religion and politics: Topics to stay away from?

Published 3:09 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2023

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By Lloyd Albritton

My wife has warned me to stay away from religion and politics in this column or risk getting into conflict with others who disagree with my opinions. My wife is not the only person to tell me this. Lots of people have told me the same thing for years and years.  I have, of course, always ignored such advice as completely impractical because religion and politics are perhaps the two most interesting and popular topics in the universe. Besides, I don’t believe it’s the talking about religion and politics that bothers people so much, but the disagreeableness. People seem to get real mad when anyone disagrees with their religious or political opinions.

I remember getting into some trouble on that account many years ago when I attended a college literature class wherein the professor introduced the class to a literary term used in poetry structure which attributes human traits and qualities to non-human things, “such as when the poet’s words speak to the wind or the mountains or the trees or some other inanimate object which is not physically capable of hearing, perceiving or responding,” she explained.

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Being at a point in the class where boredom was beginning to take hold, I decided to liven things up a little bit by introducing a titillating thought of my own.  After raising my hand and being called upon, I posed the question, “Who says?”

“Who says what?” the professor responded.

“Who says inanimate objects can’t hear?” I answered with a matter-of-fact shrug.

Tilting her head curiously to one side, Teacher tossed me a slightly suspicious look.  “Do you believe they can?” she retorted.

“Well, I can’t say for sure,” I replied, “but I do read Ann Landers’ advice column a lot and people write to Ann all the time that their house plants do better when they talk nicely to them, or when they play soft, classical music to them instead of that ol’ loud, obnoxious hard rock music.”

“Well now, that’s a good point,” Teacher conceded with a chuckle, “but I don’t see how . . .”

“Do you believe in the Bible?” I blurted, interrupting her protest.

“Why yes, of course I believe in the Bible,” she replied. “I’m a Christian!”

“And what about that story in the Bible where Moses parted the Red Sea? Is that a true story in your opinion? Or just a fable?”

“Absolutely, that is a true story!” she replied indignantly.  “So, what is your point, Mr. Albritton?”

Now that I am an old man, lots of people call me Mr. Albritton, but I was a relatively young man then and when somebody called me Mr. Albritton it was usually not intended as a term of respect.  Consequently, I sensed that I was walking on shaky ground.  Not only was the teacher suddenly on high alert to where this conversation seemed to be headed, but the entire class was now sitting upright in their seats and were turned and staring straight at me with great interest and palpable animosity.  I had planned to meander around with the topic a little bit and to have some fun with it, but I suddenly felt prompted to make my point before my time ran out.

“Yes, my point is this,” I pressed on, “The Bible says Moses ‘stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind and made the sea dry land and the waters were divided’ (Exodus 14:21).

Well, my question is, how do you suppose God accomplished this miraculous parting of the Red Sea?” I continued.  “Do the scriptures not say that He spoke to the wind and the sea?  And did the wind and the sea not hear his voice and obey Him?  In fact, did Jesus not heal the sick and turn water into wine and raise the dead, and calm the storms and many other divine miracles, all by speaking to the elements?  God commanded and the elements obeyed!”  I couldn’t stop; I was on a roll!

“Of course there is intelligence in the plants and in the rocks and in the water and in every tiny particle of matter in the universe,” I boldly declared, “all of  which is subject to the power of God and which must obey when God commands.  And, before anyone suggests it, can we agree to reject the notion of “magic?”  After all, magic is deception, is it not?  Magic is sleight-of-hand, trickery, smoke-and-mirrors.  Surely, we all agree that God has no use for magic!  God is truth and virtue!  He cannot lie. He cannot deceive.  He performs His miracles by the power of truth and light.  And I believe this is precisely how God communicates with all the elements in the universe, whether trees or seas or rocks and mountains or the windsand storms or the muscles and sinews of a living, breathing organism.  I believe all things, animate or inanimate, have the capacity, the intelligence, and the obligation to hear and obey the voice of God.  And if capable of hearing the voice of God, why not also the voice of man.

Now I perceive that some of you are about to protest, ‘Lloyd Albritton, you are trying to put man on a level with God, who is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (present everywhere).  Truly, I believe God is the Master Scientist because He knows everything about everything and He understands how everything works, while most of us do not have the knowldge or understanding to perform even the simplest of miracles, like splitting the atom, for example, or putting a man on the moon.  Even our most intelligent and educated scientists fall short in knowledge and understanding when compared to our omniscient Creator.

God has given us a special ‘Key,’ however, granting us access to just a few of the miracles in His vast repertoire. That special key is called FAITH!  Through faith in God we can indeed move mountains, part seas, heal the sick, raise the dead, stop the winds and storms, and even greater things by simply commanding the elements to obey.  We command; the elements hear; and the elements obey.  Now, doesn’t that just make sense?”

“Hey Man, are you some kind of communist?” a young fellow shouted to me from the other side of the classroom.

“What are you, an atheist or something?” a young black girl sitting near me added with a sneer.

“That sounds like an idea the devil himself might have come up with!” Teacher joined in.  “Mr. Albritton, you might want to think about taking another class.”

I did indeed take another class that semester and I did not share any of my strange religious ideas about trees and plants and rocks with little teeny, tiny ears to hear with and little teeny tiny brains to understand with.  Yet, in all the many years that have passed since that day in literature class, I have not discovered any topic more interesting, provocative and relevant than politics and religion.  In fact, may I suggest that virtually any and every topic of conversation under the sun will gravitate in due time to politics or religion.  Consequently, pretty much everything we talk about is going to end up either in an argument or with everybody sitting around talking to their houseplants.  What a revolting development this is!