I watched in interest yesterday as the whole Tea Party phenomenon unraveled throughout the day. I was hoping to make it to one to see what actually was happening at these events, but none of them were hosted at a good time or location for me to go.
Throughout the day, I listened to a few different radio shows that were taking phone calls from people who had been at the events and reporting on what was happening. There were lots of quotes like:
- “This is a historic day.”
- “I used to never be involved. This is the first thing I’ve done that feels like it really matters.”
- “There were so many people there standing up for their convictions.”
- “Finally our voices are being heard.”
- “This is America at its best.”
You get the idea. Now, don’t get me wrong, I tend to agree in principle with what the tea parties were supposed to stand for. However, I really don’t think they did much good. There was an illusion of action, but in reality it was an emotional event, not a practical one (remember the old adage, “Don’t confuse motion with progress”). The following are things that will actually do something:
- Having the courage to vote against someone, even if they are of the political party you typically vote for.
- Volunteering your time to campaign for someone you believe in.
- Running for local office: school board, city council, etc.
- Writing your Congressperson (over and over again).
- Talking to your friends about politics.
Most of the things in the second list take lots of time, effort, and committment. The first list is mostly an emotional event similar to a concert, political rallies, march, or large church gathering.
Yes, large church gathering. Look again at the first list. How many of those quotes sound eerily similar to what youth say after coming home from a big-time youth event? And now look at the second list again. Doesn’t that look more like discipleship, more like living your faith? Which one is more fun? Which one is easier to present to the board and church council?
But which one really makes a difference?
My contention is that the church is grown through doing things similar to those on the second list. Yeah, the first list might feel good, but in reality, it’s just a bunch of people having a tea party.