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Posts from the ‘Politics’ Category

The Subversive Kingdom within the Cross

“We use the word cross in our hymns, in our piety, in our prayers, and in our pastoral language. But we use it too cheaply. We say that a person has to live with some sort of suffering in life: a sickness that cannot be cured, an unresolvable personality conflict within the family, poverty, or some other unexplainable or unchangeable suffering. Then we say, ‘That person has a cross to bear.’

Granted, whatever kind of suffering we have is suffering that we can bear in confidence that God is with us. But the cross that Jesus had to face, because he chose to face it, was not—like sickness—something that strikes you without explanation. It was not some continuing difficulty in his social life.

It was not an accident or catastrophe that just happened to hit him when it could have hit somebody else. Jesus’ cross was the price to pay for being the kind of person he was in the kind of world he was in; the cross that he chose was the price of his representing a new way of life in a world that did not want a new way of life. That is what he called his followers to do.”—John Howard Yoder, Radical Christian Discipleship

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Making Room in Church for Your Ideological Enemies

Image: Ryan McGuire

Image: Ryan McGuire

If I had to put together 12 men who would follow me throughout my ministry, I would have chosen differently. I would have picked guys who had my back, who were respected, and most of all, who were on the same page.

Not only does Jesus pick untried, untested, and mostly uneducated blue color workers, he intentionally picks guys who would have been at each other’s throats.

Simon: the zealot

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What Should We Do with Caesar Obama?

800px-Barack_Obama_addresses_LULAC_7-8-08It was shaping up to be a normal Labor Day barbecue—until I made the tragic mistake of opening my mouth. People were busy cooking, cleaning, and setting up and I overheard a discussion about one political issue or another, ” . . . I can’t wait to get Obama out of office; he’s so evil.”

Now, I’m not a huge Obama supporter, so I don’t know why I felt I need to speak up. I casually said, “Oh come on, he’s not evil.”

In retrospect, it wasn’t a good idea. Read more

My Affiliation (and Disenchantment) with Progressive Christianity

Image by hobvias sudoneighm

Image by hobvias sudoneighm

Whenever someone asks me to label my political or religious affiliations, I always tell them that I’m too liberal for my conservative friends and too conservative for my liberal ones. The truth is, I really don’t want to be labeled.

I get why we classify each other—it’s convenient. If I can quickly put you in a category, I’ll instantly know how I should deal with you (or maybe dismiss you altogether).

Of course it is dehumanizing. I mean, who am I to disregard your life experience and your ability for nuanced thought and assume that I know all about you from some rashly applied label?

I had someone in my life reconnect with me on Facebook recently. This person is proud to identify as right-wing, and she had read my blog and gone through my news feed and decided that I was a progressive. The fact that I was an ideological opponent became the whole of our relationship.

It frustrated me because there never seemed to be a desire to really understand where I was coming from. She had already determined what I believed. Eventually we just parted ways because the constant barrage of bickering became too much. Read more

5 Questions for Chuck Norris about Faith and Politics

Image by Rem Norris

Image by Rem Norris

Few things annoy me more than election season. It’s too bad, really, because I generally enjoy political and historical discussion, and I take my civic responsibilities seriously. But the political season doesn’t cater to our highest ideals; it appeals to the absolute worst in us.

It’s funny, I have never voted for a democrat in a presidential election (that said, there are times I have voted for a third party). But many Christians write me off as a liberal when I defend our president from mean spirited and ignorant comments. You should have seen the hullabaloo at a recent family camp-out when I simply suggested that Obama wasn’t “evil.”

Political discussion (part of a civil societies most important dialogue) runs on inflammatory, stereotypical, and often bigoted generalities. And if we’re honest, it always has. The president of Yale once said that if Thomas Jefferson came into power, “we may see our wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution.” So we have to take into consideration that (1.) most people accept what they hear from an authority and (2.) authorities exploit that fact. This probably won’t change.

I just hate when the political machine exploits people’s faith (their most deeply held convictions) to encourage or discourage their behavior. Take this recent video for example:

After watching this video, here are 5 things I would like Mr. Norris to explain to me.

1. Who wrote this for you?

I really don’t want to be snide, but it’s just dumb. You lost me at, “If you look to history, our great country and freedom are under attack.” Seriously . . . what!? That makes as much sense as, “If you read the paper yesterday, I’m eating a bagel right now.”

But let’s set that aside a second. When I look at history, I see doomsayers trying to co-opt the votes of faithful people with all kinds of dumb rhetoric. John Adams said of Thomas Jefferson, “The only question to be asked by every American, laying his hand on his heart, is, ‘shall I continue in allegiance to GOD—AND A RELIGIOUS PRESIDENT; Or impiously declare for JEFFERSON—AND NO GOD!!!’” Adams warned that if that “infidel” Jefferson was elected, he would show his contempt for Christ by “shuttering” all the churches (he didn’t).

When I look to history, the only thing I see under attack is intelligent dialogue.

2. Why do you have such a low view of the American people?

This “tipping point,” “crossroads” language communicates exactly what I hate. The American people are insipid, weak, and spineless. They will all gladly give up their freedoms if we don’t protect them. We need to protect the American people from themselves.

Again, we are always being told that we’re at a crossroads and if we don’t act some terrible evil will befall us. It insults our political system which was set up with the potential for despotic leaders, it insults people who disagree with you on policy issues, and it insults all of our intelligence. We have been told we are at a dangerous crossroads in every election since Washington.

3. Why do you think people of faith avoided the polls in the last election?

You say that 30 million evangelical voters stayed home and Obama won the election by 10 million votes. It’s obvious this video intends to tap into those votes to overthrow Obama.

But you guys are really in a pickle. 30 million evangelicals stayed home four years ago when McCain was a war hero and Palin portrayed herself as the perfect Christian/right-wing candidate. It really should have been a slam dunk. So ask yourself, why did those evangelical republicans stay home? I really haven’t heard an explanation that I agree with.

It’s going to be more difficult this season. You have to convince them to all come out to vote for a Mormon, not a historical favorite among evangelicals. It’s going to be a much harder sell than the McCain/Palin ticket was—better ratchet up the hate speech.

4. Why do you lower yourself to using fear to manipulate us?

I love that Chuck Norris glare when he warns us of Socialism . . . or . . . something . . . worse. Are you threatening us with Expendables 3?

5. Did you forget the context for that Reagan quote?

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into 1,000 years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”—Ronald Reagan

This was from Reagan’s 1964 stump speech for Barry Goldwater. Barry didn’t win . . . that should put us about 48 years into our 1,000 years of darkness. This kind of rhetoric is so dramatic and overwrought, it’s hard to take it seriously.

I would love to hear you discuss your views in a thoughtful fashion. Political waters are murky enough without inflammatory nonsense like this. But seriously, don’t try and cajole me into voting your convictions while treating my with such disdain. Evangelicals aren’t as stupid as you assume.

Agree with Chuck? Have thoughts you’d like to share? Leave me a comment!

Image by Rem Norris

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