Tony Abbott, schadenfreude and Jesus

The latest leadership spill has left me with mixed emotions. I was disappointed and frustrated when Tony was elected, and have absolutely hated most of his policies since. I’m skeptical that Malcolm will be much different, though it’s easy to imagine that almost anything would be an improvement.

But this whole thing has got me thinking about schadenfreude and Jesus. More particularly, how Jesus’ enemy love relates to schadenfreude. It seems that it has been easy for those of us Christians who disliked Abbott’s particular brand of politics to shift into a way of thinking that has denied his humanity, gleefully posting the latest hilarious memes and high-fiving ourselves virtually. There’s something appealing about this. I have hated Abbott’s treatment of asylum seekers, climate and gender issues. Frankly, I consider them evil and irresponsible, the sorts of things I hope we will look back on with disbelief in a few years’ time. Tony Abbott has often felt like an enemy to me, and to the kind of nation I want to be part of. But Jesus told us to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). In this situation, with the mockery, Buzzfeed posts, and whatever else that will inevitably be flooding our screens, we need to remember that Abbott and those like him are loved by God. That we were enemies of Jesus whom he nonetheless loved. That we were enemies of Jesus whom he nonetheless gave dignity to. In doing that, he didn’t deny or underplay our sin. But he met it with love.

What these past few months under his leadership (and several years having him as opposition leader) have exposed – for me at least – is that my application of grace is inconsistent. My understanding of grace must have a gap in it if I am unable to – quickly and easily – see Tony Abbott as someone who is deeply loved by God and precious to Him. This is an opportunity for us to more deeply dig into that truth, not merely for Abbott’s sake, but for all of ours.

6 thoughts on “Tony Abbott, schadenfreude and Jesus

  1. I stumbled you this post when a friend liked it on Facebook and thought I would comment.
    Honestly, I learnt more about your hatred for Abbott than I did about Christian grace, or even how a Christian should approach secular politics in thought, word and deed. Your one quote of the Bible does not even apply to Abbott and his government. He did not persecute the Church, and was certainly not anyone’s enemy (except perhaps radical leftists with victim complexes)

    After years of thinking about Christianity and Politics, I would suggest neither aligning yourself with the left, or the right, and focusing on ways you can actually DO SOMETHING to advance the Kingdom of God. Pray, give money, volunteer, do something practical and useful, and get involved in the community. Leave the feel good but do nothing activism to get-up, and Amnesty.
    When you so strongly align to a secular political stance (right or left) you actually dishonour God who himself is neither left or right, and potentially alienate fellow believers who love God and want to see the kingdom grow, yet take a slightly different view on economics and international affairs.

  2. I disagree with your politics, mostly, but agree with your conclusions. I thought Tony a good man, but a bad PM.
    It’s easy to love our friends (and those whom we consider victims), but the way of Jesus is to love our enemies. I see the meme culture as particularly toxic (and if my FB experience is any indication, more a thing of the Left than the right, generally), and Christians who do it tend to slip into the Pharisee prayer “Lord I thank you that I am not like…”
    The fact is the church of the first century had greater divisions than we do and many managed to keep it together. There were Jewish/Gentile divides that made Left/Right look simple. I admire your honesty on this one.

  3. i have to disagree with you categorising tony as the enemy, he was one of the few politicians that left his seat more humble and with the bibles help, he tried but failed that desire in his heart to be a good leader for Australia under God, ‘sure’ but that doesn’t mean we should be blaming tony for the evil policies and poor treatment of refugees either, because as I see it everyone’s in the upper House of Representatives allowed it to continue and Tony was only trying to put a cull to extremism and fundamental terrorist cells in this country. In Christ

    Dom

  4. Hi Erica, I had a similar reaction to John Howard when he was first elected. I took it really personally when that repellent little weasel took office. Not only did he represent the devil’s interests but he did it gleefully and was never touched by the pain and harm he inflicted on vast numbers of people. By the time history had gotten around to Tony Abbott I was looking more broadly and had no intention of even giving Mr Abbott my attention let alone my emotional reactions; I felt he wasn’t smart enough to deserve them.

    At the election I was more upset by the weasels in the Labor party for their incredible betrayal of Julia Gillard because they were so afraid nobody would vote for a woman in the election we all knew was coming. I also took a good long look at the really evil Bill Shorten, who has loyalty to who exactly? That is a man made of cold marble. He has lovingly supported anyone and everyone who can get him one millimetre closer to his goal of being the big boss himself. All of these people are doing a job for which they have volunteered. Tony wouldn’t be up there risking having a few rotten eggs thrown at him if he wasn’t made of teflon. I will save my prayers for real victims because politicians know full well exactly which parts of themselves they are sacrificing once they get to the top.

    Then sometimes they grow up or grow in humanity: I witnessed the dismissal of Australia’s most beloved hero-rebel prime minister, Gough Whitlam. The part Malcolm Fraser played in that drama would surely have given him the filthiest hands and sunk his soul forever in darkness but he has emerged in recent years in such a different light I had to wonder if it was the same man. Had he always been such a multi-faceted person that he could hold good in one hand and evil in the other, at the same time? Or has he needed time to see more of humanity? If that’s the case, are our politicians all too young? Once upon a time it would have been deemed unacceptable to have a man as young as Tony Abbott running the country. Now I understand why that is.

  5. Schadenfreude is an emotion that has never been defined for me before, the joy a person feels in the misfortune of others. Tony Abbott’s detractors certainly exhibited this wicked emotion. At the crucifiction of Christ , I always thought the emotion was of anger that this man claimed to be God. That may be true, but I think a more sinister emotion those people experienced was Schadenfreude, they were genuinely ecstatic that Jesus appeared not able to save himself. It was an Envious joy at his misfortune.

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