Blue, Blue Zone, Haughty Red.

By now you’re probably tired of analysis about the “moral victory” and a divided America.

Yesterday’s NYT was simply amazing reading as it: 1) Wrestled with the Bush victory and its meaning. “Surveys of voters leaving the polls found that a majority believed the national economy was not so good, that tax cuts had done nothing to help it and that the war in Iraq had jeopardized national security. But fully one-fifth of voters said they cared most about “moral values” – as many as cared about terrorism and the economy – and 8 in 10 of them chose Mr. Bush.” 2) Opined about moral values “and just what that means. 3) Carried editorials like Thomas Friedman’s “Two Nations Under God” “what troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don’t just favor different policies than I do – they favor a whole different kind of America. We don’t just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is. Is it a country that does not intrude into people’s sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn’t trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us – instead of dividing us from one another and from the world?” 4) Interviewed people in the deep blue cities of New York and San Francisco.

Read these excerpts:

[“Do you know how I described New York to my European friends?” she said. “New York is an island off the coast of Europe.”

I’m saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country – the heartland,” Dr. Joseph said. “This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country – in the heartland.”

“New Yorkers are more sophisticated and at a level of consciousness where we realize we have to think of globalization, of one mankind, that what’s going to injure masses of people is not good for us,”

“New Yorkers are savvy,” she said. “We have street smarts. Whereas people in the Midwest are more influenced by what their friends say.”

“I am prepared to keep my head down, possibly for the rest of my life, under a totalitarian regime,” Mr. Conklin said.

“It just made me cry,” Terry Mitchell, 54, an audiologist in Oakland, said of Mr. Bush’s re-election. “I am sad that America is asleep at the wheel.”

For Ohioans living in on the West Coast, it was a particularly tough day. Jennifer Sloan, 29, was so incensed about Ohio’s support of Mr. Bush that she had considered canceling her mother’s visit. Ms. Sloan’s mother was arriving in San Francisco on Wednesday from Alliance, Ohio, where she lives and where she voted for Mr. Bush.

“I am depressed, but I am also just really angry at the rest of the country’s ignorance,” Ms. Sloan said.

“Mr. Rubin had been convinced that after four years of the Bush presidency, the country would come around and see things as he and other far-left coasters see them. Instead, he admitted with bitterness, the election appeared not to be a repudiation of Mr. Bush’s foreign and economic policies, but rather values associated with hippies, gay activists, atheists and double-latte liberals who populate his city and many others on the lip of the Pacific Ocean. “Maybe I’m on the wrong side of the culture war,” Mr. Rubin said.]

The Times was like a confessional, an admission that as journalists they are so out of touch their new calling is as anthropologists sent forth to study a newly discovered tribe. The problem is this tribe is the majority and holds sway over the policy making that will affect the arrogant, smugly ¢â‚¬Ëœsuperior’ anthropologist’s life and well being.

Allow me to approach this subject personally. I was born into a thoughtful but conservative Christian family then educated in San Francisco and Boston. I lived in the blue zones during my formative years and since then have lived in the blue zones of San Francisco and Seattle. I’ve lived in blue zones all my adult life with the exception of eight years in the 90’s when we lived in the red zone of DuPage county near Chicago. And here is some of what I’ve learned through this.

1) We have embraced the “culture war” motif. When James Davison Hunter wrote his “Culture War” book he rightly observed that ours is a nation of differing worldviews and that the basis of those differences is our “theology.” What do we believe about God and his place in our lives?

2) We especially seized on the warlike nature of this analysis. We could have read Hunter and decided we need to end the war, bridged the gap, avoided taking any more prisoners, but instead we plunged deeper into the fray, relishing a good fight, loading ourselves down with war terminology like “the other side.”

3) Conservative Christians took up the war without integrating their call to peace. Conservatives are embattled and “the other side” is on the march. Gay activists don’t just want gays to be left alone, they want marriage and that is inevitably a “call to arms” for conservatives. The problem for Christians is simply this: Jesus called us to be peacemakers who love our enemies. Our rightful involvement in the political process must be done in a manner consistent with our higher kingdom calling both stylistically and relationally.

4) Instead we live in an argument culture. Deborah Tannen wrote a book by this title exploring the lack of consensus building in our society. Media sets up extreme, polar opposites to yell past each other and that now characterizes our entire national communication style. Nobody is listening, nobody cares to reason themselves to a point of conciliation, everybody wants their own way, completely.

5) God loves people in all the zones, blue and red and so should I. My friends here in Seattle are mostly blue zone folks and they are good people. Our national demonization is the byproduct of all I’ve said thus far but it is counterproductive to peaceful coexistence and we need to find a way to bridge to each other. Jesus showed the way and his followers should lead by example.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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