Things I Thought: Rewind
After some kind rebukes and hurt feelings, I need to revisit the tone and content of yesterdays rant.
I respect the readers here…this place allows me and the reading community to express a greater divergence of thought on “Christian” issues than any other site of comparable size that I’m aware of.
The hallmark of most of what is posted by the community is that it is thoughtful and open to challenge, as we saw on the previous thread.
Having said all that, my guess is that my readership is 80-90% Republican and conservative…and those readers and supporters came to their convictions as thoughtfully and prayerfully as the 10-20% of us without that affiliation came to ours.
If this site is going to have any value at all in these discussions it will only create that value by creating space for real dialog, not pep rallies between sides.
The Gospel does not belong to any political entity…it transcends political and national interests and must be kept separate and above them.
The Gospel is not a weapon to be wielded against brothers and sisters, it is what was given to overcome the divisions among us over temporal issues.
Going forward, let us preach the Gospel to ourselves and each other in this contentious season, being ambassadors of Christ not only to the world, but to each other.
My apologies for not modeling this previously.
Thank you Michael.
I was asked to input my email, name and website link and somehow I became erunnerErunner! 🙂
MIchael, your humility and love for Christ and others is why so many of us respect you so highly. Bless you!
“The Gospel does not belong to any political entity…it transcends political and national interests and must be kept separate and above them.”f
I appreciate this approach.
A long time ago I was a political news reporter. (I was young and really didn’t know what I was doing, like many of my colleagues at the time.) What I found out was that many developed their “thoughtful” positions based on presuppositions they inherited from family, friends, college classes, or whomever was “winning” or popular when they were coming of age. (I’m not saying this is true of everyone or even guessing at a percentage, just that’s what I saw in my circumstances at the time.)
This caused me to wonder how objective we could really be without a time of truly stripping away our current political stands to examine as honestly as possible the premises upon which we’ve built them? As we know with our religious stands, it’s very difficult to be objective and truly honest with how we are dealing with a subject/issue unless we allow ourselves to enter a truly open dialogue and have our views challenged and exposed.
During the election cycles I continue to find myself in situations where I need to reach out to people who feel rejected and shamed by the church because they do not share the same political views. By listening to them, letting them have a voice about their political views was not only good for them, but it was good for me to hear why they believe what they believe. The motives behind their choices are oftentimes heart warming … even surprising.
When dealing in the world of missions, politics can be very difficult, especially when you live and work in an area that doesn’t care for America, Americans, or true Republics. One learns that this subject is only for us to listen and learn what drives them; from where do their views come; and to what end are they striving? We can disagree –even passionately– as to what will work and what is a worthy goal, so long as the relationships are kept in tact. But in one of my worlds, the relationships cannot be kept in tact if I reveal my ideals. My desire to share the gospel overrides my desire to enter into the debate.
But in my other world, I cherish the freedom to discuss political ideas and strategies. I feel a sense of responsibility to enter the debate, respectfully, thoughtfully, and with as much impact as I am able to have … still recognizing there’s always room to grow and learn.
Well said, as usual.
I do not align with either political party. If pushed to be in one or another, then the fallback is Republican. But at heart I am an independent and somewhat libertarian conservative.
That being said, I deplore hearing any rants that would seem to malign either of the two main contenders for the office of President. I’m not sure that Obama and Romney are that much different when it comes to running the country.
We will pay our taxes, volunteer in our community, participate in our church, and seek to meet others needs. Whether its a Democrat or a Republican who sits in the big chair makes little difference to me.
Although, I do think its more important who sits in both Houses of Congress.
A French woman I went to college with married a man who is the “go-to guy”, when the French government wants to understand American Evangelicals. He wrote a book that rivals the length of War & Peace on the subject. Let’s just say that the European view of American Evangelicals by European Evangelicals is not that flattering.
Since no one has the corner on objectivity, when it comes to who’s views are “correct”, we can simply listen to our counterparts and see if there is anything we can learn from their take on us.
I liken it to Nebraska … (hang with me here) … when one arrives in the dry, barren NebraskaHills Sand from the lush, green Eastern Seaboard one wonders why anyone would live in that seemingly god-forsaken land? However, 5 minutes with a true Nebraskan explaining how they feel like they own the huge sky & the wide open land when they are on their horse makes it hard not to fall in love with the place once you see their perspective.
Religious views and politics can be much the same as a newcomer to Nebraska … perspectives can change …
“NebraskaHills Sand” should read: Nebraska Sand Hills
wouldn’t want to offend any Nebraskans!
That was a brilliant analogy…as I can testify that the first time this Oregonian landed in New Mexico the shock was profound.
Yet …in time, with perspective, I grew to love and appreciate the desert.
The bigger emotional earthquake was the first time in Juarez…and we all know how that turned out. 🙂
Excellent stuff today…thank you.
Very well said, Michael.
I used to think that the history of our largely two-party system has been a strength for America, because of the stability of government. We knew the elected government would continue until the next election. Someone would be in charge, without the need for fragile alliances among multiple, often diverse, factions.
I don’t know that I think this anymore. I wish we had six parties that all got about 10-15% and maybe a couple more that could pull 5%. So that it would be necessary to work together to form a working government – and if things blew up, there would be new elections.
If you added up all the words I type on politics on the internet, the vast majority of them would be AGAINST Republicans and other conservatives who despise evangelicals. I wish I had another party to vote with, but I don’t.
I’m sure many voting Democrats feel the same way.
I think you might be on to something there…
“I don’t know that I think this anymore. I wish we had six parties that all got about 10-15% and maybe a couple more that could pull 5%. So that it would be necessary to work together to form a working government – and if things blew up, there would be new elections.”
IMO, that would be a tragic mistake. You think we have problems now………………! Our Founders had the right idea, we just don’t follow it any longer.
I believe you will find that the Founders warned repeatedly about the dangers of political parties, George Washington especially. The Constitution most certainly did not establish a two-party system and the nation’s history has shown an evolution among party strength and survival but gravitates back to two key parties. Those two parties though have changed many times over the history of the country.
Of course, there are many parties today, and sometimes (like Nader and the Green Party of 2000, or Perot’s run in 1992) they can influence who wins the Presidency by splitting the vote.
As an aside, when (not if) the Republicans cast aside the social conservatives, I predict a new party will arise that will become the new Republican party and the non-evangelical Republicans will become like the Whigs.
“Our Founders had the right idea, we just don’t follow it any longer.” – i’m afraid that’s the truth (small ‘t’)
as long as the various news sources available to us are dominated by their own group-think we will have a 2 party dominated government of savvy career (bought and paid for) puppet politicians
i, myself, see less meanness among the evangelicals than i see a muddled attempt to call us to defend the Faith in a place where i’m not sure the Kingdom even is … God choses governments, i know … but Jesus didn’t run for the Senate of Rome … i know, i know He wasn’t a Roman, but He would have been, if politics was where God wanted Him – just saying – cuz i can … and i don’t want to think about what to pack, if i’m told to evacuate tomorrow or the next day – for some reason that is too tiring to think about 🙂
On the topic of multiple party representation:
Someone who knows the French system well has given me their (Nebraskan) view. They love having a real choice. Of course they get to choose from many parties including the Communist. He describes this as having a real choice. That’s not how he views American politics.
Along with real choice comes real consequences, too. When the Communists took over a particular French town they destroyed all the historical buildings and put up the ugliest concrete high rise apartment buildings in their place. I don’t know for sure, but my sources think the communist have not run that city since; but the city paid dearly for it.
Michael, it is obvious from your writing yesterday and some of your writings from over the past couple years that you have been deeply hurt by some Christians who are also strongly Republican and/or conservative in their politics. You also have the humility to admit that your responses to those hurts are not always proper, and you try to make things right, as you have done so today. That is much more admirable than those who just continue to bluster their political rants and attacks with no real consideration of how it affects others.
I am one of those 80-90% that you refer to in this article. I get disturbed when those who are on the opposite side of the political spectrum from me unfairly attack, knowingly misrepresent, and gleefully drag through the mud those conservative ideas and leaders that I may agree with and support. But to be honest, I get even more disturbed when those who I would identify with more closely politically do the same to the other side. Especially when they are supposed to be brothers and sisters in Christ. It hurts more to see your own “family” behaving in an unbecoming manner. I imagine it must hurt even more when the shrapnel of the attacks from your “family” on others ends up having as much of a direct hit on you as it does the supposed “enemy”.
“when the French government wants to understand American Evangelicals.”
And how often, precisely, does that happen? Enough that there’s actually a “go-to” guy for it?
I don’t actually know how many times that happens, but apparently it happens enough that our French friends say they hear him quoted and he is refered to him as the expert on American Evangelicals. Why? Are you French?
Should read: … they hear him quoted on the news ….
Remember the context is that the post-Christian Europe sees us American Evangelicals as an enigma … hard to understand.
I’m not French, though I do consider myself evangelical. I’m just shocked that the French would have any interest at all in American evangelicals, beyond questions such as, “What color is the sky in their world?” and “How could so many people be so backward and bigoted?” I guess I’m pleasantly surprised. Where can I read/see more about this?
I’ll check and see if I can find something online.
My guess is that the French government understands the political power of the Evangelicals in America, or at least sees it as a serious cultural influence.
Sergious, here’s some info that may be of interest to you:
Sebastian Fath, French expert on Evangelicalism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%A9bastien_Fath
Christian Science Monitor notes Fath as an expert on Evangelicalism: (interesting article, btw) http://www.csmonitor.com/World/2012/0712/In-a-France-suspicious-of-religion-evangelicalism-s-message-strikes-a-chord
Got one stuck in moderation …
Sebastian Fath also has a blog in English:
Great, thanks. I will definitely check out those links.