Sunday, June 15, 2008

Religion & Politics

Yikes... have you noticed it is an election year?! I admit I don't expect too much in any of it. It's mildly entertaining. Sometimes it's scary as the attack dogs go after each other. I appreciate the pendulum swing over the course of years which seems to bring us to a norm of some sort, so the change is welcome. But I really don't expect much of the politicians or the parties. I have a sneaking suspicion they'll say anything to the ordinary Joe & Sally, and the Independent, and let the votes fall where they may. Blame it on me being a Watergate/Vietnam war kid. Blame it on me being somewhat distrusting of institutions. Blame it on reality!

How do you keep your life balance, your spiritual center, your focus when the rhetoric rages and the air heats up with politics? I see some get sucked into this, and it's too angry, too paranoid, too absolute for me.

I'm reminded that Jesus didn't follow the way of the political zealot. He didn't fall to the allure or the trap of politics. He wasn't that sort of Messiah. Look back on how the government leaders tried to handle Jesus; interesting stuff. Personal salvation doesn't come through state or national affiliation or through party loyalty. He didn't expect His followers to follow that sort of King. The relationship with God Jesus portrays wasn't defined by politics or party affiliation. Look at those early followers of Jesus and he had everyone from a soldier to a tax agent to a fisherman on his team. So, that faith community is wildly diverse and includes a wide spectrum of the social and political community. I like that, and think the model is worthy of attention. I suspect having such variety strengthens the faith community, strengthens the individuals, and creates a stronger faith which has greater impact upon the larger community. Imagine instead of fragmentation and party rhetoric the possibility of individual and community transformation that is potential.

But we'd need to first get past a significant obstacle. Growing up in south Georgia in the last millenia I'd heard rumors of Republicans and Pepsi Cola, though back then in our county folks had ONLY seen and experienced Democrats and Coke! We'd need to move beyond personal experience and even preference and open ourselves to new ways of living and thinking.

Most of us tend to have our social & political bias, and then merely weave those things together with our religious view. So we might use the Bible to defend/promote our conservative or liberal view. We might use "God language" to promote what we are "for" or "against." Observe that the cultural and political experience dictates much more than faith; faith in this approach is used to validate that which we have already experienced and believe. Side note: pick ANY controversial topic and then try to use the Bible or faith language to defend (then oppose) the position for an interesting experiment.

Check out this blog where Jim Wallis attempts to reason with a conservative who too quickly and easily wants to transform us into conservatives as part of God's will. See the Wallis response to the author of "How Would God Vote? Why the Bible Commands You to Be a Conservative"

Post a thought there or here as we try to learn to live together, to have different opinions, to grow stronger in community, and through it all to follow the way of the Living Christ.

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