Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Brief Thought on the Election

The beautiful gift of a wife in my life clerks at the front check-out of a nearby drugstore. She interacts with a wide variety of people. Just prior to the election, she engaged an older couple in conversation. She used over-heard comments about a candidate as her lead-in for personal conversation. Before long she knew the two people as US citizens, though the man’s accent and brief story placed him in Europe much of his life.

He commented he really didn’t understand the American emotional reaction across our society to politics generally. In comparison to our culture, elections in Europe produce much open even passionate debate over issues; but in contrast, people’s differences are accepted as natural and do not end friendships or even discussions. The give and take of disagreement are an accepted social discourse. Whereas here, speaking up for an issue or candidate is likely to cause an immediate and often awkward end to a conversation.

Even allowing for some faulty memory on his part, the point is obvious: we fail our own value of freedom of speech. Why? Perhaps we are so spoiled that being emotionally able to handle disagreement is beyond us. We are selfish in this country to want everything to be like we think it should be including the way others think. And in my view, we Christians are very willing to use a cold-shoulder or worse, condemnation and shunning, to enforce our view as the correct one.

It is ironic and pitiful to hear people on the one hand espouse the wonder of a political system which guarantees freedom of speech and religion–intended undeniably by our fore-fathers as a protection of the right to function according to one’s own conscience–and on the other to berate the choices of others in demeaning and disrespectful terms. Or maybe, just become quietly dismissive of the other person.

For those who espouse Christ and mouth words of being an alien on earth to do such strikes me as much more than irony, but a symptom of a lack of faith and a large infection of hypocrisy. These folks need to take two prayers, one of repentance and one begging God to reveal His love in their hearts for all those in the "enemy" political camp, and get a good night's rest.

Reality check: when was the last time a conversation with a "politically" different acquaintance or friend ended with a heart-felt affirmation of the person regardless of their views? A kind of statement that assured the other person of a love true to all that 1 Corinthians 13 describes. Counter possibility: when was the last time a conversation with a "politically" different acquaintance or friend ended with a personally held concern for the moral failures of the person evidenced by their views? The conversation ended with keeping one's thoughts veiled under empty but socially accepted niceties.

18 comments:

jesse said...

I think you nailed it there. I grew tired of hearing people argue of the election and am glad its over. I think one scripture that goes with this well and also relates to your posts on authority is 1 Peter 2:13-17 "Be subject to every human institution for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to the governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people. Be free yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king." I think this last verse is the most most important. "Give honor to all. love the community, fear God, honor the king." LOVE THE COMMUNITY. Why is this so hard for people to do, and guess who the king was that Peter was telling people to honor, Nero, thats right, Nero,talk about a nasty dude, he is probably the worst king in the history of Christian persecution and we are told to honor him. I am not saying you have to agree with Obama's policy or his beliefs, naturally if it is not of God I think it is important to seperate from it, but it is also important we do not slander or spread dimeaning remarks about our leader. Or anyone that voted for him for that matter.

Carey said...

1.) Jesse, what a well-chosen scripture. Point well-taken, although I thought that Nero came after Peter wrote those words. Honoring Augustus Caesar would be one thing; honoring Nero would be quite another. Like the difference between Napolean and Hitler. I could tolerate one, but not the other.
2.) As far as the election goes, it's obvious that Americans are ready for new leadership. Let's give Obama a shot at it (as McCain exhorted us to do in his concession speech.) There are some old issues in this country that divide us. Maybe a man of his character and background can help us repair those old wounds.
3.) When I was young, a Red State was, oh, Russia, or East Germany. Nowadays, it's like ...Oklahoma? Alabama? Funny how time and humans change the meanings of things.
3.) Several years ago, when we were in Italy, we saw a group of Communists parading down the street with banners and such. It was some kind of labor day. They just like a bunch of regular people to me. I came away with this thought: the splintering of identity groups in their ancient culture had happened long ago, and was therefore a given in their societal sensitivities. In America, on the other hand, that fractionalization is just now taking place. I'm hoping that this next four years can be a time of reconciliation between groups with opposing worldviews. But then, maybe I'm just a dreamer. But I'm not the only one.
CR

Steve Sensenig said...

Carey, whether it was Caesar or Nero is not really the point. Peter did not really allow for exceptions in his encouragement to his readers to honor the king. I think the opening of the passage Jesse quoted puts it in context to say that it's not based on the merit of said king, but rather out of respect to our Lord.

David, great post. I definitely concur, and have been extremely frustrated with the tone of many factions (on both sides of the aisle) in their criticism and mockery of the other. I was especially ashamed of the party with which I have always been registered (but with which I will shortly not be registered!).

jesse said...

I thought 1 Peter was written between 60-64 and Nero ruled from 54-68. If you believe it was written by Peter. I read a lot of scholars feel it was written after Peter's death in 64 by Silvanus. Thats what I read when I looked into anyway,

ded said...

Jesse,

Thanks for the comments. I appreciated your use of scripture. Give honor to all. That's fairly inclusive isn't it? :^)

I wondered about Nero, also. Then I remembered your time in Mr. Goff's class at ASU. I figured you knew what you were talking about!

Carey,
I'll dream along with you, but I have no hope society will become a good place. Though, yes, recent changes in the government allow me to hope for some betterment. Honestly, I have to also admit some fear of liberal politics. For me, this last election was not about the lesser of two evils, but a clear statement of the fallenness of the mainstream in both directions.

I dream instead for the love of God to be expressed by the Body of Christ to society.

Steve,

I miss you brother and look forward to beyond Christmas!! Though your talents will be better known, and someone else from a far away land will clamor for your services.

Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your encouragement.

Josiah said...

Honor all including the king as is so greatly exemplified in David's relationship to Saul. I just want to point out that at that time Saul was acting as an evil king who because of his evil died under a God's judgement and by his own hand. Every situation holds God's will and ours. All this to say that the honored King Obama is not for all the praises of men simply God's will for this nation. We had a choice and the nation did not take this incredible opportunity to change the supreme court justices in favor of pro life. Like a European I feel passioned because I cannot shake the feeling that history is full of mass murder which has been rationalized. Could we be different? Here we are challenged to honor not only a powerful king but a helpless baby. For those in the other political camp I hope the rubber meets the road and we can honor one another-- Dad, I know you are apolitical but I took the opportunity to share my convictions with you.

Carey said...

1.) Jesse, thanks for the history lesson. I stand corrected.
2.) Steve, respect is one thing. Obedience is another.
3.) Maybe it's because I'm getting old that I entertain these dreams of reconciliation between people groups.
4.) Josiah. I don't think the battle for life is fought in the Supreme Court or any other governmental institution as much as it is fought in the hearts and minds and uteri of those young women who are unexpectedly heavy with child. That's where the true battle is fought--in their minds and hearts. And our best work as their defenders is done in the crisis pregnancy centers of the world, where those young mothers can find alternatives to the deadly interventions that the world prescribes.
C

ded said...

Josiah,

Faithful Son, It always a blessing to see your name in the comments list! Your walk and testimony are among the reasons I face life with a smile on my face.

It isn't that I am apolitical, I think. The system offered me two choices. I could have chosen between a party dedicated to greed, the wealth of a few as an economic principle for lifting up a majority while willfully marginalizing the poor, and pre-emptive (read that as dishonorably attacking whomever we please) war with a substantial loss of innocent life among civilians versus the more liberal party which supports the poor by, among other ways, allowing them to rid themselves of unwanted babies. This nation will be judged on both sides by a holy and beautiful heavenly Father. I accept and welcome His judgment. Any touch from Him brings cleansing and wholeness. I will take whatever judgment falls upon us alongside all others, and will count myself blessed if I can use the opportunity to speak of the love of Him who brings righteous judgment.

The Supreme Court had an opportunity, while packed with Republican appointees we should note, to reverse Roe vs. Wade and did not.

Man's wisdom always fails God.

Without a choice that would represent my conscience, I could not support either choice. I would have supported a different choice had it been there. Even if it sounds "un-American" (I have gotten used to being an oddball), I find myself appreciating the parliamentary system where a diversity of opinion is present in the government. I do not believe in withdrawing from society. Voting is not the only way to be a good citizen! ;^)

Carey, I dream with you and seek to live the dream by dwelling in the living spirit of God. May Jesus be praised forever!!

ded said...

Maybe I am becoming apolitical. Your comment makes me think about that, Josiah!

Terry said...

What about those of us who voted for Ralph Nader?

ded said...

Terry,
Hey my brother!! I have watched for posts on your blog and comments here for a while. You are either busy or quiet, but knowing you, ever thoughtful!!

A significant way to vote to be sure.
I voted that way four years ago.

When the economy tanked in late Sept., I knew Obama would win. An incumbent party has never held the Whitehouse in a recession. Americans vote for their pocket books fairly predictably, eh?

I am glad you found the wherewithal to provide the symbolic protest vote.

Carey said...

Yeah, the good son towed the pro-life party line by condemning, quite elegantly, our societal disdain toward those unprotected unborn children. We must affirm Josiah's protest.

Then the good son's dad dragged up the issue of the war, with some points that were equally considerable. I had wanted to mention the war problem myself, with its connection to the "pro-life" party. But then I haven't really made up my mind about the effectiveness or longevity of our efforts to democratize the Muslims in Iraq. So I didn't share my shifting sands thoughts about that Sunni-Shiite carnage.
However, there's a senator from Illinois who made up his mind about that war a long time ago. In a few months he'll be in a position to initiate the homeward return of our American boys and girls. Considering the precarious situation that we find ourselves in, I'm willing to let him and his appointees take a shot at bringing our resources back to the home front where they can be managed on more friendly territory.
Maybe those soldiers will come home, impregnate their wives, and all decide to keep the babies because they realized, under threat of death in the sands of Babylon, how precious life is.
We can't save the world, you know. That's already been done. We can't save the Muslims and we can't save the babies. But we have the power to appeal, through the bloodshed of the Innocent One, to the Giver of all life on their behalf.
C

Josiah said...

I agree the issues present prosaic choices with many dark stains running through the platforms. And yes the best answers to our social woes are not coming from the governments but from sincere Christians and concerned individuals. But from my reading of the Economist the pro life battle is decided by the Supreme Court which has never had the conservative majority. With two justices to be appointed in the next several years...I feel America made a choice away from protecting children. The war appears to be winding up under either candidate and lower taxes for the wealthy mean more business with America in a globalizing economy. Those opinions dont matter alot I guess. But thanks for the ecnouragement as a son Dad and Carey

ded said...
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ded said...

Josiah,

The Economist is correct, there has never been a conservative majority. We can thank the writers of the Constitution for the effective checks and balances in the system which strive to keep power from one particular mindset. In a day when abortion was commonly held as sinful and medicine determined to bleed people for cures, they could not foresee a day when abortion would be accepted law; and we know how to measure brain waves of a fetus.

However, the Supreme Court that ruled on a review of Roe v. Wade and did not overturn it was packed with Republican appointees, seven to two. (judgepedia.org/index.php/Supreme_Court_of_the_
United_States#Political_Leanings)

Though voting for Republican presidents who then appoint SC judges appears a strategy to overcome this political blight, how effective is it really? If the population as a majority abhorred abortion as we, would we have legal abortion?

My point in the post is not about abortion, though certainly, it is a compelling reason to vote a particular way. It drove my decision to not vote for Obama. I was saying love continues toward others regardless of how they vote in man's world. (I admit it, it bothers me when Christians want to make political activity a measure of the Christian, so that was a motive in my writing.)

Agreed, America missed an opportunity to further place more judges on that bench appointed by a Republican, but does any president or his political positions control the decision-making of the appointed judge? No.

Carey said...

"I feel America made a choice away from protecting children."
Yes, Josiah, America did make that choice. But "America" is not a unified entity; it is a many-headed hydra. Generally speaking, the abortion issue is low on most folks priorities--behind the economy and the war.
Those of us who were thinking about the unborn cast our votes like good Republicans should. There are only two reasons why I did vote for John McCain. Those reasons were 1.) the very same Supreme Court scenario of which you speak, and its effects upon the number of abortions. And 2.) McCain's granddaughter recently recently visited our home on a couple of occasions, and I found her to be, like her grandfather, a person of admirable character.
Nevertheless, it was with a strange befuddlement that I cast the vote, because 1.) I knew that Obama would win, and 2.) There is a crying out in our nation for new leadership--i.e. someone who has positively stated that it's time for us to get out of Iraq.
One more thing. Re: Supreme Court. The issues are brought forth in a can of legal worms--so complex, in fact, that the traditional political labels have little meaning when it comes to rights of individuals (mothers and their babies.) Furthermore, the issue is being clouded by technological innovations that produce, in vitro, thousands (perhaps millions) of frozen embryos that have parents who are estranged and unwilling to act on their behalf.
It's a mess. There is nothing to save us from the effects of human imperfectibility except the shed blood of that One whose perfection was made manifest in crucifixion and resurrection.
CR

ded said...
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ded said...

Thanks for commenting, Carey and Josiah. This is becoming one of the longest exchanges I ever had. That is fruitful, I think.

Carey, your ending thought is absolute Truth. I do not hold that voting does not matter. I know that in many circumstances it does, at least in the short term. However, the overall global picture unfolds toward an end where all governments rise to follow one who is the opposite of Him we worship and follow.

The immorality and injustice of the current mess goes way beyond the effect of Christians at the ballot box. Even when we elect "our" candidate, will he or she not have to compromise in order to get any legislation passed?

We cannot achieve the love, justice and peace of the Lord through man's machinations. It is done. We live it by faith and seek to introduce others to Him.