Tag Archives: Politics

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?

 


Obama = “Evil??”

This reflection is not about Obama.  It’s about the power of words, particularly the word “evil.”

This morning, listening to the News, I heard a McCain supporter who had gone out to see Sarah Palin last night say that Obama is evil and that she is frightened of him.  I bristled at the use of the word “evil” to characterize Obama (or Bush for that matter) because speading such a perception could be very dangerous.  Words are powerful and form perception.  It’s also interesting to note the difference in perception as to what is “evil” or, let’s just say “bad” for the country or world.  Some think that hammering a young, unenlightened connection with an anti – American terrorist and the perception of socialism is evil, frightening or bad.  Others think that going to war under false pretences, pandering to the wealthiest among us and an isolationist foreign policy is evil, frightening or bad.

No matter what our political affiliation or perception, I think it’s dangerous to use highly charged, emotional and dangerous words like “evil” to characterize a political opponant.  No matter what I may think or feel about past Presidents and the choices they have made and the directions that they have taken us, I would not use the word “evil” to characterize them.  I may well wonder how they can sleep at night, but I would not use such a dangerous word.

When I was growing up, my Mom use to tell us to be very careful about the words that we use, because words can hurt and cause more damage than physical violence.  I think she’s right, . . . not only only on the personal level, but on the world stage as well.  Whether it’s about the upcoming election, an issue at work or school, or a relationship difficulty, it’s probably better to step back and use our minds, rather than spouting emotionally charged words.

Perhaps out political campaigns would then take on a more civil and clear minded character, rather than throwing highly charged words around which serve to further polarize instead of bringing people together to form reasoned solutions.


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?


Darfur’s Unheard Cries

In the midst of so much happening in our countries, our world, our lives, our economies, it‘s easy to forget regions of the world where violence rages out of control and little attention is given to it. One such place if the Darfur region of the Sudan. Such places are not “sexy” as they hold little strategic value and so are given little help and attention. Yet people are being slaughtered and have been for several years now. Such atrocities rival the atrocities perpetrated by Saddam Hussein, if not make them pale in comparison! Yet I hear little of a Presidential or political outcry over this. Again and again, this situation gets pushed to the side in the media and does not hold the attention of our political leaders.

If you have never watched the movie “Hotel Rwanda,” I highly recommend it, but don’t watch it if you’re even the slightest bit depressed. It vividly portrays what happened, and indeed, what has been and is happening now in the Darfur region of Sudan.

In the midst of economic crises, political campaigns, gas prices, wars, terrorism, etc. it’s easy to forget these innocent ones who are being slaughtered and who get little attention because they have little strategic value to us. Perhaps they have little strategic value, but do they not have moral value to the world community with resources to help?

If you get a minute, drop a note to the UN, your Congressional Representatives and Senators, and President Bush. Urge them, if possible, to do something more to address this situation, even if it isn’t “sexy.” Such action, I believe, is part and parcel of walking a spiritual path.


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?


Light One Candle

“Life is difficult.”

So begins M. Scott Peck’s bestseller The Road Less Traveled.

And life is indeed difficult at times.  Problems and difficulties are a reality of life.  Look at the economic crisis we’re in, the political machine that seems to be beyond the control of ordinary folk, the threat of terrorism, hunger, poverty, violence, injustice, prejudice and inequality.  The problems seem so varied and so vast that we stand powerless in their wake.  Or perhaps the problems are as close as our own homes.  Difficulty with our partners, infidelity, addictions, busyness, economic hardship, the loss of a job, depression, illness. . . . The list goes on.

In the face of life’s difficulties it is easy to react in one of two ways, or both:  to become paralyzed and to simply complain.

In 1945 Fr. James Keller founded “The Christophers.”  It is an organization who through the printed word and other media give people a word of hope and encourage people to use their gifts to make a positive difference in the world.  What I like about Keller’s philosophy is that he keeps it simple.  His famous words, around which he framed the mission of “The Christophers,” are these:  “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”  Just ONE candle.

In the face of life’s challenges, it is easy to curse the darkness.  AND it is equally easy to light just one candle, to take one little action, to make a positive difference.

What are the difficulties in your life?  In our world?  What is one candle that we can light today that can lighten the darkness?