Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Perspective on Politics and Faith

I have a question for digital diplomats out there. As we face our coming Presidential Election do we need to be less concerned with which political party wins and more interested in meeting human needs spiritually and socially?

* I have excerpted this from Will Braun, editor of Geez magazine, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Will writes from a healthy distance of 1,566 miles. He writes from the other side of an international border, and a curious cultural divide sets him apart from Capitol Hill, our global epicenter of raw power.

A Capitol-intensive Christianity makes Braun uneasy. Doesn’t the church have a higher calling, he asks: a calling qualitatively different than gaining maximum sway in the globe’s most intense pursuit of worldly power?

I’m not sure I should say this, admits Braun, “but I feel y’all. . .are too caught up in the phenomenon of “America” Obviously US politics directly affects the lives of many people and cannot be ignored altogether. On the other hand, super-power is not the ultimate power. As people of faith we have the luxury of a broader perspective. . .that allows us to operate on a plane beyond power-politics.

Sure Jesus went to the capital. . .riding a donkey. One can easily identify the political implications of what he said. However, Jesus modeled a seemingly counter-intuitive, paradoxical approach to power. In the conspicuous absence of revolution or a well-groomed lobbying campaign, Jesus offered a seemingly irrational death on the margins. Yes, he stepped on religious and wealthy toes, but those of his time who longed for political change ended up bitterly disappointed!

As Christians, let’s give less credence to the top of the power pyramid rather than more. Let’s resist the temptation to place too much of our hope in a revived. . .party. Instead, let’s claim the bottom: God is not a Republican or a Democrat. . .a backroom campaign strategist, or an American political pundit, or a lobbyist.

I take great solace, admits Braun, in knowing there is something entirely beyond the realm of Red and Blue (emphasis added), a higher plane that supersedes election cycles, frantic campaigning and the din of the lobbying frenzy.

And I, although I have spent a tremendous lot of time this past decade listening to political pundits, opposing the Iraq War and the increasing inequity in our United States, I take Braun seriously when he reminds us that "Ultimately our hope is in a paradoxical, unlikely power. And that is why I think the faith community has a higher calling than governmental politics."

Admittedly, I find the political policies of Barak Obama much more responsible and Christian than those of John McCain, but I will be neither blue nor red. As a staunch evangelical conservative I will more seriously consider the counsel of Jim Wallis (Sojourners) to be a Red-letter Christian.
What I believe and practice, I will filter through the red-letter lens of Jesus’ teachings, before I try to sort out the complicated thoughts and interpretations of Peter, Paul, Augustine, Luther, and any other company of political pundits.
That is where I stand firm.

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