Across the Pastor’s Desk: Study issues, vote for principles

Published 8:00 pm Friday, September 23, 2022

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Loren Olson

There was a house down the street from where I grew up that was set back in the woods. The older kids in the neighborhood warned us that was where the bogeyman lived. They warned that if we got too close, the bogeyman would grab us and lock us in the basement. They said if we did not believe them that we could go peek through the basement windows and we would see captive children there. I did once run up to the house on a dare and looked through the window. But it was too dark to see anything. For a long time, I walked past the house on the far side of the street and with a quickness in my step because I was afraid of the bogeyman.

At some point along the way, I learned that the house back in the trees was not the bogeyman’s house, but the house where Mr. and Mrs. Glibbery lived. They were a gentle, kindly couple who attended our church and who always had a smile and snacks for the Sunday school kids. I had been fooled! I began to learn the life lesson that sometimes people will say things to prank or fool us, and that it is easy to manipulate using fear.

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As we get nearer to Election Day in November, we are going to hear and see a lot of people called the bogeyman or bogeywoman on media. We are going to be encouraged to be afraid about what such and such a candidate or party will do if they win the election. It will probably be the worst on social media. It is interesting that although most people agree that social media is not a good source of fact or truth, that a majority of people report that social media is the place they get their news and information.

Jesus told his followers “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) As we live in a world where there are plenty of people trying to manipulate us with fear, lie to us or prank us, we need to take a serious look at issues and people and try to understand the truth. The Bible often encourages not to put trust in human leaders but to trust in God and holy teachings.

If we want to honor God while living in a republic, the best way is to be active and informed citizens who get to know the candidates for office, who study the issues, and who are true to our principles. It is not the easy way of liking and passing on “gotcha” memes on social media. It is the narrow way of using the mind and heart God gave us to try to influence a just and compassionate society.

Loren Olson is chaplain of Mayo Clinic Hospice.