Archive for November, 2016

Elections and Election

The Pastor’s Page from our recently published church newsletter:

PASTOR’S PAGE: Elections and Election

On Tuesday, November 8, Americans will elect a President for the next four years. In reflecting upon our election, it’s instructive to know the Bible and know the history of the ancient world.

First of all, no matter who wins, we can be very grateful for the process in which a President is chosen in our country. In ancient Israel and in other Near Eastern cultures, succession to the throne was often a matter of violence, sometimes a struggle between father and son (think David and Absalom, 2 Samuel 13-19) or between rival sons, generals, mothers and sons, etc. When a king came to power, he had no checks on his power, and he reigned until someone else killed him and took the throne, or he died and his son succeeded him.

It makes our system, no matter how flawed it may be, look extremely good. Our Presidents have checks on their power. They are in office for four years and may be re-elected only once. This, of course, was born out of the experience of Americans under King George III, but also, I believe, through a healthy skepticism of absolute power because all sovereignty belongs to God.

Although we are no longer a religious nation, I believe that it is part of our religious heritage that we have a system in which we live by a Constitution rather than an autocrat. In saying this, of course, I make no statements or assumptions regarding which party or candidate would better live by the Constitution. But I believe that our secular society has inherited this notion of limited, desacralized power precisely from a religious background.

Secondly, Christians are called to pray for whoever is to be our next President, no matter who it is. This may be hard for some of us, but St. Paul tells Timothy, ‘I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may live a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and dignity’ (1 Timothy 2:1-2) Note carefully that Paul does not say that we are to pray ‘to’ the king, as was common in those days for the Romans to pray to the emperor, but ‘for’ the king, as an acknowledgment that God indeed is the sovereign over all sovereigns and sovereignties. Though the governing authorities may not acknowledge the rule of God, yet Christians do, and so they should offer prayer for the government, as we do at the weekly Eucharist.

Finally, the people of America elect a President, but God has elected a people to be his holy ones in the world. We, the baptized people of God, the body of Christ, living members of the Holy Church, anointed with the Spirit, are to be witnesses to his reign to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8). We do not identify the kingdom of God with the administration of a certain President, the rise of a certain majority in Congress, or with the accession of certain individuals to seats on our Supreme Court. Instead, we proclaim the advent of Jesus Christ as the kingdom of God in the midst of a broken and sinful world. God has made himself known in Jesus Christ and will continue to make himself known in the Church, and it is through him that we have true freedom (John 8:34-36).

Let us then go forward with confidence towards Election Day and beyond, trusting not in the powers of the world, but in him who won our freedom on the cross, defeating all evil powers, liberating us from fear and doubt, loosing us from our chains that we may serve him in this world.

 

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November 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm Leave a comment

What is the chief end of blog?

Thank you for those who encouraged me to keep writing. I probably wouldn’t be had I not received this encouragement, as my default level of self-criticism is off the chart.

Nevertheless, a friend had an interesting question for me – why am I talking about ‘conservatism’ at all?

‘What is the end of goal of defining “conservatism”? It seems to me that it is just a label, and a fairly constricting one at that. I am sure many would describe me as a liberal, but I am not interested in making decisions out of adherence to that definition, whatever it is. Our public policy is much too complex to assume that proper answer to all issues/decisions can be gleaned by asking: what is the conservative/liberal/moderate/libertarian choice? I favor an individualized and context-driven approach to decision-making. If someone wants to attempt to assign a label to my collective decisions/choices, so be it, but that is simply the result of my choices, not the motivation for them.’

It’s a good question, and perhaps it is a valid one from the point of policy. However, I am not a policy-maker. If I had wanted to be, perhaps I would have gotten into politics, but that ship has sailed. I have one vote. I have neither time nor energy to contribute much more, aside from the occasional letter to an elected official or an unasked-for Facebook share.

Perhaps I have simply identified whatever calls itself ‘conservative’ as good and ‘liberal’ as bad, and have tailored my taste in hopes, dreams, and preferred outcomes to that identification. I don’t think this is true.

Maybe you have to start with the label. I feel a disaffection with the label as it is understood through popular culture, a disconnect with it as it is currently defined by its political leaders, and yet asking, is there something good in the ‘concept’ at all? Was there a central reason to adopt a label as appropriate to myself, even when one was uncomfortable with many of its connotations?

I suppose that would be the end goal – to see what is worth ‘conserving’ in the word ‘conservative.’ How does the idea of ‘conserving’ culture lead to renewal of self and a contribution to anyone else? It is being asked not for the sake of policy, because that’s beyond me. It is asked for the sake of the question, how should I live?

November 2, 2016 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment


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