by Tank Tankersley
“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind” (John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII (1642)).
When I learned that Senator Kennedy had brain cancer that would probably take his life, I prayed for him. I prayed that God would use the power that is His alone to strike down the dread malady that beset the senator, if that were consistent with God’s will. I prayed that, barring that, God would grant the senator peace. Since Senator Kennedy’s demise, I have prayed that God comfort the senator’s family and friends in their bereavement. I don’t consider those prayers remarkable, but some evidently do. Some wonder why I have offered them. I am astonished that they are astonished.
I am a Christian. I am a capitalist. I am a conservative, though I confess to more than a little confusion as to what the word now means, for some high-profile politicos who apply it to themselves embrace principles and promote policies diametrically opposed to all that I have ever understood the word to mean.
Given all this, it is hardly surprising that Senator Kennedy and I would have agreed on very little. Were his principles my principles? No. Did I embrace his values? No. Did I consider sound those policies he espoused? No. Was I a fan, and admirer a supporter? No. But what of it? Does any of all of this matter? Does any or all of this mean that I cannot sympathize with one who must confront a terminal illness? Does any or all of it mean that I am unmoved by the sorrow that his family and friends now experience? God forbid!
I have heard friends rejoice at the news of Senator Kennedy’s death. I have heard them make jokes about it. This saddens me beyond words. Can anything be more unbecoming, more inappropriate, for the Christian?
Sometimes in our zeal to oppose public figures who embrace principles and champion policies that we consider at odds with Christian values, we appear to those who do not know our hearts as “haters.” For those who acknowledge as Savior and Lord history’s ultimate manifestation of love, there is never any reason for that.