Category Archives: Politics and Religion

The U.S. Cabinet and Resolution Check In

Read Mark 3: 13-19

Sound familiar to recent events?  (Kind of synchronistic that these readings appear in the Common Lectionary at this time!  Doo, doo, doo, doo . . . You‘ve entered the twilight zone!)

Jesus picks his Cabinet.  They are to go out and spread the message of his administration; and it’s good news!  Notice too, they are given authority to “expel demons.”  I suppose in a manner of speaking that that’s what the US Cabinet members are to do in their various areas of concern, expel demons, fix what is broken for the good and benefit of all, whether it be the economy, foreign relations, poverty, education, terrorism and the like.  No matter what our political affiliation, I think we all would like to see improvement in our world.

Now let’s bring it home.

What about us?  What about you?  Remember those New Year’s resolutions?  How are they going?  Those resolutions are about “expelling demons,” . . . in a manner of speaking.  Is it beginning to happen?  Are you doing or not doing some the thing or things that you said you would like to work on, for the good of yourself and others around you?  If not, what’s a step that you could take today toward freedom?

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Obama – Savior of the World?

Read this passage:  Mark 3: 7-12

Does is sound familiar to the events of a couple of days ago?  People come from many parts and from great distances because they have heard of this Jesus and all that he does and can do.  They press around him to hear him, get a glimpse of him and, if they’re lucky, to actually touch him.  It’s funny, it even seems like Jesus has his entourage, his “Secret Service” as it were, as he asks them to have a fishing boat ready for him so he could avoid the press of the crowd around him.  Sound familiar?

I certainly wish President Obama all the best in his administration.  And although a part of me hesitates at the amount of money spent on it during these hard economic times, his inauguration was indeed one of a kind, bringing together people of every race, background, lifestyle, economic bracket etc.   I hold out great, but realistic hope for what can be done, under his leadership.  I fear though that many look to him as the savior, the one who, single handedly, is going to lead the world out of its mire of economic woes, poverty and violence to the promised land.  I sincerely hope for that possibility, but I think it’s good for us to keep in mind the consistent message that we’re hearing from his administration:  it can’t be done alone.  We all must take responsibility and do our part to make things better.  If anything, he stands as a beackon, a light that is energizing many people to realize their OWN power and their possibility of making a concrete difference in the world.

In some ways I think Jesus did the same.  Did he “save” the world?  Was everything better after he died and rose?  No.  But what he did do is stand as a beackon, a light that pointed to what is possible for those who BELIEVE that they CAN be healed, that hungry masses CAN be fed and that new life CAN come from seemingly death dealing situations.

So what am I saying here?  Sometimes we have a tendency to look to someone to lead us out of our darkness.  We look to a savior to take us by the hand and give us everything that we want or need.  I truly believe that there is a Power that can carry us and do unimaginable things within us; but I also believe that we must cooperate with that Power and do what we can to take responsibility for our lives and those of others – leading from darkness to light and new possibility.

What within me or my world needs to be “saved?”  What action can I take to be a “savior” in those situations?


The Election

The election is tomorrow. Think of the candidate and/or Party that you stand with. Think of the issues important to you in this election. Think of the state of the country and the state of the world and relations between peoples. Think of all the negative adds, the dirty politics, the skewed perceptions and so called “facts.” Think of all that goes on in an election. . . . Then read this verse placed before us today in the Lectionary: “Never act out of rivalry or conceit; rather, let all parties think humbly of others as superior to themselves, each of you looking to others’ interests rather than your own.” (See Philippians 2: 1-4)

When you look at your Party, at your candidate, how well have they lived up to this statement? And how well do “I” live up to this statement?

 


Political and Religious Humility

Luke 13: 22-30

 

“ ‘We ate and drank in your company.  You taught in our streets.’  But he will answer, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from!’”

 

I believe a sign of authentic spirituality is a palatable humility. I get very nervous around those who think their way is THE way and who look down on others.  Jesus, in this passage from Luke, is talking to such people.  You think you are on the right path, he says, but you are so off the path.  Humble yourselves and open your eyes!

 

Humility is not a virtue held in high esteem in our culture.  To be humble is perceived as being weak, wishy washy and unsure.  Just look at our political landscape.  Strength, being “right,” and fighting are the qualities that are respected.  Unfortunately, such qualities even spill over to our religious landscape.  Personally, I think that a politician  who exhibited a sense of humility would be a great leader.  How very refreshing this would be!

 

Do I stand in a place of humility with others?  Or, am I closed off from others, thinking that my way, is the only way?


The Christian Moral Vote

I made a mistake the other day.

I was speaking with a group of people with whom I work about the difficulty a Christian has in voting.  Various people looked at me in surprise that I would even think there would be difficulty in choosing which candidate to vote for!  Again, the “Christian” thing to do was to vote Republican.  The mistake I made was this.  I said that the difficulty for the Christian is that the teachings of Jesus are embodied on both sides of the aisle.  The Republicans hold what would be traditionally associated with what we think of as “moral.”  But the Democrats embody policies of social justice.  Later that I day I thought about what I said and was aghast that even I, who think I’m so “enlightened,” did not associate the word “moral” with issues of social justice!  If I very naturally do not make the correlation between social justice and morality, it’s no wonder that people associate the Christian “moral” vote purely with abortion and homosexuality.

What really constitutes a moral issue for me?  For us?  Are not fighting poverty and hunger, access to health care, peace seeking, humanitarian leadership, saving the planet, sharing resources and the equality of all people “moral” issues? . . . Indeed are they not among the greatest moral issues!


Politics and Religion: Are You A Christian?

I was listening to NPR this morning. They had a segment on the political campaign in key States, one of which is Virginia. Liberty University, a Baptist University founded by Jerry Falwell was featured in the segment. They are canceling classes on election day and bussing students to the poles to vote in hopes that they will get John McCain elected. It’s estimated that 80-90% of the school is Republican. What intrigued me is when the News Anchor from NPR asked around if anyone knew of a student there who was a Democrat. No one did. One student said she used to know one, but he transferred out. The News Anchor didn’t give up, but kept up her search and eventually found a couple of Liberty University students working Obama’s campaign. She asked the students what reaction they get from fellow Liberty U students when they say they’re working on Obama’s campaign. One commented that oftentimes the immediate comment from students is: “Are you Christian?”

It amazes me that Christianity in some parts has been reduced to and identified with a strictly right wing, Republican platform. To such people, to vote otherwise is to be “un-Christian.” How very sad and shortsighted. Of course such thinking often comes down to being “Pro-Life” (although this same camp lined up to support war, probably would be for the death penalty, and supports policies which strangle struggling families). The other policy which makes these people upstanding “Christians” is an anti-gay marriage stance. (although I hear very little from this camp about outlawing divorce in an age of rampant divorce, when gay people are seeking to make a commitment!).

And lest I be labeled a die hard Democrat, I would have the same issues if being “Christian” was associated with the Democratic party.

In my estimation, for one who is a follower of Christ, to vote is a very difficult thing to do indeed, as neither political Party lines up fully with Christ’s values, like the preciousness of life, care and concern for the poor and the least among us, embracing the marginalized, selling what we have and giving it to the poor, being more concerned with others than ourselves, loving one’s enemies, etc. To identify one political party as being “Christian” is to be blind and narrowly defines “Christian” values. Read the Gospels. Just read the Gospels. Get to know the person of Christ. If we do, one would not easily embrace any political party as fully embodying Christian values as over against another. If we truly get to know the person of Christ and seek to emulate his teaching, would we, like him, have anywhere to lay our heads?