Spitting mad? In deep distress over the direction our country's going?
I know the feeling.
Some days, the world seems like it's coming apart, doesn't it? What was once down is now up, right is now left and the things we run from are the things we should embrace.
Truth? It exists. As sure as the sun rises in the east. There are things that are right and things that are wrong.
The trick is discerning which is which. The right. The wrong.
Gay marriage? This is where you and I differ. I thought the news out of Washington this week was wonderful. Just. Liberating. A reflection of a world to come where all people are honored for who they are.
But you're probably tired of hearing that. So let me say something else:
Thanks for fighting the good fight, burning the midnight oil, trying to keep morality a household word.
To make America a more perfect union, we need religion and morality at the table. Thanks for not folding your hand when so much is stacked against you.
(Let me say clearly: not one syllable of this column is directed to all those who use violence and "God hates gays" type of intimidation. Your faith seems like a millstone.)
To all who earnestly try to love your neighbor without compromising your beliefs, thanks. Really and truly.
We may disagree on this issue -- I believe gay people will parade, proudly, straight into Heaven -- but you're not lukewarm. You're fighting, standing up for what you believe, and the last thing we need is a country where people don't do that.
Perhaps it's time to change the way you fight.
"Christianity, when it is taken seriously, compels its adherents to engage the world, not retreat from it," writes Larry Alex Taunton in The Atlantic.
Taunton, a Christian, spent years engaging atheists (like Christopher Hitchens) in public debate. Not long ago, he stumbled onto a novel idea: He and colleagues invited atheists from near and far to sit down with them.
Not to evangelize, argue and dispute.
But to listen.
Tell us your story, they said.
"We just wanted to listen to what they had to say," he wrote.
Instead of atheists, what if the conservative American church began to listen to the stories of their lesbian, gay, transgendered neighbors?
Listen to the gay woman who spent years in a suicidal depression because the church told her, repeatedly, she was going to hell. Ask her what that did to her perception of a loving God. Ask her how many tears she cried.
Listen to others describe how being gay was with them since their first breath, how they could no more remove it than the color out of their eyes. Change? Like telling the sky to stop being blue.
Listen to those who have encountered a loving God, and felt embraced by a peace that passes understanding, lawmakers and society's judgment.
"We are firmly in a post-Christian culture. We have to change tactics," said Dan Wilson, director of Harvest USA, a locally based ministry. "Getting mad, angry, distraught, disgusted or despairing is not the ticket."
Religion matters as much as it ever has. Maybe more so. You really want to establish legitimacy in a post-Christian culture?
Spend some time listening.
Then more people will want to listen to you.
Contact David Cook at email@example.com or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.
David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...