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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

A Message From John McCain

These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to [Barack Obama] tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face…I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited. Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.

Read the full text of the speech here.

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In case any of the four people people who still read my blog after me not writing anything for a month have not yet voted on this election day, I offer the following (Rob – I hope you find these somewhat less nauseating than the McKnight links – but don’t expect any dramatic new insights ;-))

Why Christians should vote for John McCain.

Why Christians should vote for Barack Obama

(HT again to Jesus Creed) As I head to bed here in Europe, a few hours before the polls close in the States, one thing I hope is that however this election turns out, the concept that all Christians “should” vote for one particular candidate is a notion that will die. Now go vote.

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In case you haven’t come across it yet, Jesus Creed is probably the best Christian blog I read regularly. Scot McKnight recently wrote a couple posts about John McCain and Barack Obama that are about as reasonable, balanced and level-headed as anything I’ve read in this political season. Check out his very thought-provoking introductory note too. A couple random thoughts:

1. The next president of the United States will be a Christian. I am glad of that; I believe that a president who is sincerely seeking to serve and obey Jesus will govern more justly as a result. But while I hope that the president will faithfully act as an agent of the Kingdom of God, I think it’s good to remember that the job we are electing him for is to lead the kingdom of Caesar.

2. Not only will the next president be a Christian, I think it might not be possible to be elected President of the U.S. today unless one professes to be Christian. Can you imagine one of the candidates going into the Saddleback forum and telling Rick Warren, “I think the Christian faith brings much good to our society and am grateful that so many Christians call the U.S. home, but I am not a Christian myself because personally I don’t believe the stories of Jesus are true.” If he stood by that remark, I think his polls would plummet. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

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I don’t generally enjoy writing much about politics lately, but I couldn’t resist referencing this event. Shannon and I were traveling last week so I don’t know if it made a big splash in the public consciousness or not, but I found it fascinating to read the transcript of this forum. For those that missed it, Compassion Forum was a question and answer session between the presidential candidates and a diverse panel of influential religious leaders at Messiah College. The discussion was entirely on matters of personal faith and ethics. It wasn’t so much the actual answers that impressed me as the mere fact of seeing these candidates for the U.S. presidency field direct personal questions like “Share some occasions where you’ve felt the presence of the Holy Spirit” or “Why do you think it is that a loving God allows innocent people to suffer?” Wow! It would require great courage for any Christian to stand up and answer open-ended questions like that in public. I’m not going to attempt any kind of comprehensive commentary on the forum, but I will throw out a couple random moments that particularly caught my attention

Clinton was asked about her basic moral framework for making decisions with life or death consequences for others: “What are the first principles you fall back on to make such decisions? Are there certain activities or references or people with whom you consult in order to do what is morally right?” Good question – kinda lame answer: “…it really is rooted in, you know, my prayer, my contemplation, my study. I think you have to immerse yourself in advice, information, criticism from others … I do believe that you have to be willing to expose yourself to many different points of view and then you have to make that decision.” It struck me as typical politician-speak, a lot of nice words that don’t really say anything. Great that she listens to lots of diverse voices, but who are they? Who do you listen to and why? Who’s your “small group”? Do you have a Jeremiah Wright? Will you tell us even if we won’t all approve?

My favorite line from Clinton, when asked “Why do you think it is that a loving God allows innocent people to suffer?” she responded “…in the face of suffering, there is no doubt in my mind that God calls us to respond. You know, that’s part of what we are expected to do. For whatever reason it exists, it’s very existence is a call to action…in both the Old and the New Testament, the incredible demands that God places on us and that the prophets ask of us, and that Christ called us to respond to on behalf of the poor are unavoidable. And it’s always been curious to me how our debate about religion in America too often misses that.” Suffering exists to allow us an opportunity to love our neighbor!

Clinton was asked: “Can we [combat global poverty] without changing our standard of living?” Her answer was basically, “Yes, we can.” Which I take to mean “We can combat poverty publicly without the government taking money out of your pocket.” Plays well with both conservative and liberal voters, but I felt like she missed a great opportunity to have a prophetic voice against out-of-control consumerism and materialism rampant in our culture including in the church. Man, what a bold move it would have been to say “If we the American public are serious about fighting global poverty, perhaps we should each be willing to personally sacrifice, to voluntarily choose a lower standard of living for the sake of our impoverished brothers and sisters.” Sigh. But I know a statement like that is politically suicidal, even in this kind of forum.

My favorite line from Obama, regarding the place of religion in politics:

What religious language can often do is allow us to get outside of ourselves and mobilize around a common good. On the other hand, what those of us of religious faith have to do when we’re in the public square is to translate our language into a universal language that can appeal to everybody. And both Lincoln and King did this and every great leader did it, because we are not just a Christian nation. We are a Jewish nation; we are a Buddhist nation; we are a Muslim nation; Hindu nation; and we are a nation of atheists and nonbelievers. And it is important for us not to try to kill the debate by saying, “Well, God tells me I’m right, and so I’m not going to listen to you.” Rather, we’ve got to translate whatever it is that we believe into a language that allows for argument, allows for debate, and also allows that we may be wrong.

The emphasis is mine. Some would call this political wishy-washiness, I’d like to think it enculturating the message. Kinda like Paul becoming “all things to all men.” (I Cor 9:22) I don’t think Obama’s saying Christians should compromise their Christian beliefs at all, but that living in a pluralistic environment, we should find ways to communicate these beliefs that make sense to others who believe differently from us.

CNN says John McCain declined an invitation to appear on the forum. I find that very disappointing. I think Christians – regardless of your political views – should take a few minutes to read this forum. Whether you like either of these candidates at all, there is a very good chance that one of them will be our next President, and this panel may provide the most honest glimpse at their souls that we will get.

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