Shoe Throwing, Insults and Christianity

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If you remember back to the invasion of Iraq when the Iraqi people were toppling statues of Saddam Hussein and tearing down his image all over Iraq one thing you probably noticed over and over again was that the people would beat the image with their shoes. This sends the message, “You are worth less than the dirt on the bottom of my shoes.” From what I can tell throwing a shoe at someone is the ultimate Islamic slap in the face. When Bush got shoes thrown at him it was more than an act of aggression and violence it was an insult. It was not just any insult, an insult that dehumanizes and basically says someone is worthless.

To all the Bush hating Christians out there who abhor violence and insult when it doesn’t suit them but seem to revel in it here there is a clear message here. By endorsing this man’s actions you are saying it is acceptable to tell others that the are worthless and worthy of the ultimate insult. Scripture teaches us that we are made in the image of God. Jesus taught that we are not to insult other people or call them harsh names. Why? Because people are important to God whether we agree with that person or not, whether we have the same political ideology or not, and whether we think they are worthy of our acceptance or not.

Once it becomes alright to insult and use violence when it suits our needs when at other times we say we abhor violence and call it anti-Christian is just not acceptable for Christians to accept or buy into. This episode may seem humorous to us but it is far from humorous. This sends the message loud and clear that to this man, Bush is worth less than dirt. God tells us that is clearly untrue and we cannot feel any different than the example God has set before us. Sorry if that isn’t politically expedient. You know, we have methods of expressing our views in non-violent forms that can speak just as loudly but you may have to keep your shoes on and stick with words and diplomacy…the very thing that many who love these actions toward Bush have been saying Bush has lacked doing himself in the world community.

0 Responses

  1. One thing is clear to me: this is the most heated blog issue in Churches of Christ since the Hussein middle name debacle on Facebook, which was written up in the New York Times, which then caused a certain person’s blog to go private.

    One common trait that interests me about both issues: the shocking willingness — and even EAGERNESS — of folks to bite the hand that feeds, or once fed, them.

  2. I believe the man was wrong for throwing his shoe, in fact I even believe it is wrong for him to disrupt in any way.

    You say, “Once it becomes alright to insult and use violence when it suits our needs when at other times we say we abhor violence and call it anti-Christian is just not acceptable for Christians to accept or buy into.” You are exactly right and this is the precise problem on both the political right and left. The political right support the use of violence calling it war. The left hates that but then in turn will applaud left wing radicals who are planning to shower the Republican National Convention with fire-power and fecies bombs.

    And this is why the Christian needs to separate him or herself from the political right and left and simply strive to follow after Jesus who calls us to love (not hate), peace (not violence), and mercy (not vengence). But then again, so long being a Christian means being a good patriotic American (either for the cause of the left or the right) then discipleship will continue to be compromised and even scoffed at by some as being too radical.


  3. It really bothers me how Christian people often refer to political leaders as “scumbags” or “idiots”. I think we’ve got to take Jesus seriously when he said to even call someone a “fool” puts us in danger of the fires of Hell.

    We can disagree with someone, and even strongly question them without crossing this line into hateful speech. The shoe throwing incident infuriated me, and it would have been the same if it had been Obama. When I see people react with glee that this happened, it angers me even more. Christians are to be better than this.

    While I’m not convinced of the inherent wrongness of all violence whatsoever, I am convinced that this sort of behavior–whether hateful speech or shoe throwing–is completely inappropriate for someone who is a follower of Christ. It’s obvious that the actions of this man, as well as those of the liberal media who have celebrated this, are not coming from the motivation of love or peace.

  4. I understand that some Christians believe that there is a time when certain violence is justified…but on what grounds? Perhaps the grounds for such justification is the same grounds for which this man would argue his justification for throwing his shoe…perhaps. Or perhaps, he would justifiy his actions on the same grounds for which President Bush justified waging war in his country…perhaps. Then again, justification does seem to be in the eye of the beholder.

    As for biting the hand that feeds them…I have a hard time believing war was waged in Iraq for the sake of Iraq. This man, as wrong as he is (and I do believe he is wrong) is biting the hand that feeds American power and not international equity.

    Just some thoughts…


  5. First of all the man wasnt a Christian so we cant expect him to act like one, whereas Bush claims to be a Christian but is certainly a worse purveyor of violence. I am critical of Bush becasue of his ties to evangelical Chrsitianity. People see his actions and associate them with the very same faith I claim. I hope that I can critique Obama in the same way because of his faith claims as well.

    Second, I again ask you to understand where this man was coming from. He, for whatever his reasons may be, thinks that Bush has blood on his hands, and likely has lost friends or family in the midst of this war. This kind of pain and desperation often leads people to do things that they would not normally do. Take Bonhoeffer for instance, a pacifist who tried to kill hitler. He felt like he had run out of other options so he did something that he would not otherwise do. Now befoer anyone reads to much into that comparison, no I dont think Bush is anything like hitler. I imagine he is for the most part a pretty decent guy. However the point remains that when people feel desperate they do things like this. If you or I felt as if someone were responsible for killing people we loved I dare say it would be difficult for us to have any respect for that person.

    Finally, Matt I think you and I agree more than my former paragraphs imply. I am in firm agreement that for Christians to tout this as heroic or to insult Bush is flat wrong. Earlier I mentioned that it would be difficult for you or I to respect someone who we thought was responsible for the deaths of our loved ones, but I also believe that those who follow Christ should seek to love that person anyway.

    In all of this I still think it is important and Christlike to hear the cries of this reporter and others who are desperate and hurting, not matter what they have done to express that. After all the bible shows that God has a clear bent towards the poor, hurting and desperate.

  6. RM,

    I am really glad you decided to weigh in with your thoughts. Most of what I am saying is toward Christians who look at this man with glee, especially Christians who otherwise call themselves pacifists. I don’t expect the man to act like a Christian but I also don’t expect Christians to act like this man. Is that fair enough?

    So is there a level at which someone can do enough to me that they deserve me to strike back, retaliate, etc? That is the answer I am dying to hear because at that point those who profess to be non-violent either have to check their non-violence at the door in order for expedience and the end justifying the means or they have to realize that non-violence means non-violence even if you don’t like someone.

    I guess it is the glee that I hear from pacifist Christians toward this incident that is getting to me. It just doesn’t match up.

  7. I certainly agree that we shouldnt act like this man. If we feel like he does then we should find other ways to express it, even outrageous ones, but never violent or degrading ones.

    To use Bonhoeffer again, when he attempted to kill Hitler, he said it wasnt right or justified and asked God’s forgiveness for his lack of creativity. That to say that I do not believe there is ever a point when violence is justified for Christians, but at the same time I understand how people act in desperation sometimes. That doesnt mean their actions are right or justified but I am just saying I can sympathize. So to be very clear I do not believe there is ever a time when violence is justified or acceptable.

    This is why I would die for President Bush if there was ever a reason for me to or at least I hope that I would. I believe a Christian’s best witness is giving of our lives, and that this witness is scarred if we forcefully take any part of another’s life.

    Finally, I must confess that when I first saw the video I chuckled and got a little excited. This is one more example of my beliefs and my actions not matching up. I am broken, but Jesus is making me whole and I strive to have less and less moments where my professed beliefs and my actions have this kind of dissonance.

  8. Hi Matt, This week on the “Prophecy in the News” web site for Wednesday 1/14/09 J.R. Church has a short video post about Psalm 60 “Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe” and Psalm 108 “over Edom will I cast my shoe” and how these verses in both Psalm actually relate to world events. I thought that you might enjoy watching as it relates to your posts. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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