... and saw that I was speaking to Al Franken.
He smiled, shook his hands dry, and stepped away.
I was an instant fan. Heck, he complimented my kid.
This memory was brought back during my 11 hour drive to Albuquerque today. For the trip, I had picked up the audio version of Al Franken's book: Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them.
It was a riveting "read" - the 11 hour drive flew by. The book was funny, enlightening, and very educational. I had a sense that Franken was a good man when I "met" him; now I know that my first inclinations were correct.
At one point of the book, he articulated something that I had always felt but never put into words. I have noticed for a while that I can offer critiques and compliments of America's history and policies. My ability to honestly look at the one does not mar my appreciation of the other.
However, it is apparent that many Americans cannot do this. They cannot hear an objective critique; they take the critique personally and assume that anyone with a critique must be unpatriotic, or hate America.
Franken explains the phenomenon this way:
"If you listen to a lot of conservatives, they'll tell you that the difference between them and us (liberals) is that conservatives love America and liberals hate America.... They don't get it. We love America just as much as they do. But in a different way. You see, they love America the way a 4-year-old loves her Mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad, and helping your loved one grow. Love takes attention and work and is the best thing in the world."
I actually think this phenomenon does not divide neatly along conservative and liberal lines; people are simply more complicated than those two categories. But I understand his point.
I get similar reactions when I critique Christianity in conversations or on this blog. Some Christians want all words spoken of Christianity to be wonderful, and anyone who critisizes it is bad. To critique is seen as nothing but harmful.
However, I think it would be good for our religion if we start loving Christianity like grown-ups.