Listening to Adam Schiff was actually a bit chilling.
I interviewed congressman Schiff this past summer, along with my Ghost Town Troubadour buds. We found him to be engaging and candid and an all-around nice guy. I probably don’t agree with him on everything (or maybe anything) but we did agree on some basic intellectual property rights issues. And we all shared a love for the American idea and American ideals.
And so it has been hard to watch him wade into the fray of all this Russian collusion/FISA warrant memo/congressional intelligence back and forth. Mainly because I can see the man I saw as calm, collected and rational donning his political-team-sport uniform and jumping into the game. And in the heated political back-and-forth of “oh yeah …well look at what YOU did,” Mr Schiff got punked.
If you haven’t heard the recording of the two Russian comedians who gained audience with Mr Schiff and then fed him a morning zoo routine about possessing nude pictures of President Trump and Vladimir Putin’s God daughter, well …let’s just say they got him pretty good. Part of me thought it was funny. The other part didn’t like this happening to a US representative.
He asserts that he knew it was a joke the whole time. And as someone who genuinely liked Mr Schiff in the short time I was around him, I hope that’s true. He seemed like a guy who would get the joke. But these days it’s getting harder and harder to tell where the lines of satire and real life intersect. So, I have a strong suspicion he thought, even for the briefest of moments, the phone call was real. It sure sounded like he thought that. And I would venture to say that some of that was based in a desire to believe what he was hearing. In some ways, we are all victims of that at one point or another.
It made me think back to the great American Idol songwriting contest conspiracy, of which I was a part a decade ago. I read things online about myself that I never knew. I learned information about my career and connections that was made up out of whole cloth, but based on half truths and almost truths. And I learned, through that experience, that we can see whatever we want to see or need to see, if we’re willing to spend enough time remaking it in the image we need it to be.
I was probably the victim of a Face Book hoax just today. When you see trusted friends, who are full grown, intelligent adults, doing something, you assume it’s true. The messengers matter. And the world we’re all living in is so brand new to all of us that you just never know when something is real or not.
All the “smart people” always go to Snopes to get to the truth. But I’ve always wondered why we all trust Snopes in the first place? If I wanted to manipulate information I would posture myself as the most solid source for objectivity on planet earth. We all know how that worked out with Wikipedia. Or do we?
In some ways, we’re all playing a big game of telephone. And I personally believe the grand joke on humanity is our inability to communicate truth and fact to each other. Or maybe it’s our inability to receive it.
Just as all this was happening, I was reading a rant asking how so many people on earth could put their faith in two-thousand-year-old documents that were written during some of the most violent times in history. Even as a believer, I occasionally ask those same questions. The process in which we’ve received and refined and translated and curated and proliferated the Bible has been long and winding to say the least. And no matter how much “evidence” you claim to have, eventually it all comes down to faith. There’s simply no way around it.
I’m fascinated with ancient Rome. And lately I’ve been particularly fascinated with the servile wars. These were uprisings among the Roman slaves. If I had been a Roman slave, I would’ve probably joined them. Or maybe not. Obviously, the most famous name among those uprisings is that of the Gladiator-turned-rebel-king, Spartacus. He freed people from bondage and led them on a blood-soaked rampage throughout Italy. He bled for his people, spoke of justice and freedom and ended up being crucified because of it. Sound like anyone you know?
Seventy years later another young man did the same thing. Only he didn’t bring the sword, he brought ideas and hope and something pretty revolutionary …love. While Spartacus brought the hope of vengeance to the downtrodden, Jesus brought the hope of redemption to everyone …even those in power. Spartacus came to free the slave. Jesus came to free the slave master. Spartacus came to even the score. Jesus came to end the score keeping.
In the world of Spartacus, all Romans were worth killing. In Jesus’ world all humanity was worth saving. Spartacus died for his followers. Jesus died for his murderers. It is a story like no other. And it transcends translation.
I’ve often said the main (and maybe only) reason I still follow Jesus is because of love. Love makes the chaos make sense. It helps me find equilibrium in an unbalanced world. It welcomes all …especially the unwelcome. And as one who feels unwelcome a lot, that resonates with me. That cuts through the years and misinterpretations and misrepresentations and false witnesses and yes …even the fake memes on Face Book.
When it comes to matters of faith, the facts and figures and details will be argued about until the end of time. As I get older I am more fascinated yet less moved by them. I’m more interested in spirit they convey.
My son asked me what God was when he was small. I told him that the bible said God is a spirit. It also said that God is love. So whenever you are around the spirit of love, you’re close to God. He seemed to understand that. I do too.
The face book hoax I fell for asked me to have my friends comment so I wouldn’t lose touch with them. As it turns out, that was unnecessary. But I sure did like hearing from them. And maybe that’s the point. Maybe that makes the hoax a good one.
Maybe we don’t know all the details of Jesus. And maybe we don’t need to know.
Maybe the love part is makes the whole story worth while.