Oct 27, 2008

The Faith Life of the Party

I am depressed over the acrimony expressed during this political race. Mud slinging, fearmongering, assassination attempts. And that's just the run for church secretary.

Joking aside ... My husband Larry says it hasn't been this bad since 1968: we were locked into a war we didn't want, King and RFK had been assassinated, there was the Chicago riot at the Dem convention; plus we were going through the great Sixties social upheaval. Flash forward 40 years: social upheaval, terrorism, economic collapse. In the midst of this comes Focus on the Family's doomsday letter, filled with the worst case scenarios if Obama were to be elected. It read like a synopsis of a "Left Behind" book. Ridiculous, corny, paranoid. Now I know the same thing goes on from the other side. Bill Maher (God loves him!) regularly excoriates McCain and Palin. I half-expect it from a nihilist like Maher, but not from people who claim to follow Jesus, who commanded us to "love one another."

I recently watched the John Adams series on HBO. Some things surprised me: Thomas Jefferson anonymously hired someone to write a defamatory letter to destroy Adams' reputation. It worked: Jefferson won the election. They also tarred and feathered people during the Revolutionary War. So much for even micro evolution. We haven't evolved much.

Here are some other facts about our founding fathers you may find curious. Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian; he was a deist. He was also a slave owner and adulterer. He 'authored' the Jefferson Bible, in which he cut out everything Jesus said that he didnt' like (deity, atonement, resurrection). Benjamin Franklin was a deist and a hedonist. And the genius behind our constitution. George Washington was baptized Episcopalian but some claim he was a deist. He stopped taking communion. John Adams was a Unitarian Universalist; they believe everyone gets in. Yet the Christian Right holds them up as model Christians. They weren't! They were model leaders, filled with wisdom and flaws, and up to the task as it was presented in their day.

Well it is a new day. I do want my president to have a core belief in God -- in a just and loving God, whom the prez knows he must answer to. I'd be more comfortable if he shared my faith; but George Bush did, and look where the US went these past eight years. (To be fair, we can't blame one person, we're all responsible) I don't even share the exact same beliefs as my husband. Larry doesn't believe in hell; not the Germanic, Protestant "Hell" of the 16th Century. And boy is he gonna fry for that. I'm more concerned about the way we are scrutinizing each candidate's every jot, tiddle or whisper about faith, then judging their ability to lead based -- not even on their actual faith but our interpretations of their faith. Extrapolating how the world will look if they get into office. Accusing their spouses of being racists or bimbos. WTF?

If we-- you, me, James Dobson-- want to judge Obama or McCain's ability to lead the US based on their faith alone, we would have to go back and apply the same criteria to Washington, Franklin, Adams and Jefferson .. and we'd be render our founding fathers "unfit to lead."

Look, I know there are real issues at stake, issues you and I care about. Some people believe he world will fall apart over these issues. We need to vote our conscience. Personally, neither candidate or party represents the entirety of my beliefs. Some skew to one side, some to the other. I don't think either candidate is perfect; but neither do I find either of them to be horrors or miscreants. In the words of McCain, "he's a decent fellow with whom I happen to disagree." I think that's true about both of them.

I worry that whoever gets the job is going to be in for a heap of trouble. We humans tend to be lazy. We want someone else to fix our problems. Fix the economy, fix people's conduct. Make it work, so I can go back to speculating on the stock market, buy my iPhone and lease that Hummer. Make oil prices go down. Drill baby drill. Throw money and programs at the problem! I just want to to back to my old life . Well, we can never go back to our old lives. The world is changing. America is not going to rule the world forever. And why should we? We're not God.

In the midst of all this negativity, I was delighted to listen to two podcasts on the radio program, Speaking of Faith, which I susbcribe to (free!) on iTunes. host Krista Tippett interviewed Christian politicos on both sides of the divide. The podcasts were terrific: they helped me understand the motivations on each side, the discussions were thoughtful, respectful, and positive. No mud slinging, no tar and feathering. First, The Faith Life of TheParty: the Left, an interview with Amy Sullivan, an evangelical Christian democrat who writes for Time magazine. Second: The Faith Life of the Party, the Right, interview with Rod Dreher, who wrote "Crunchy Cons." I knew Rod in New York. He's a great guy. He's not a fear monger. Whew. Actually they were both a relief and delight to hear. A balm in Gilead.

In any event, I thought I would share some counter programming to all the blecchy angry meanness going on. I can't tell you how to vote. That's up to you. I also can't tell you how to act or how best to love your neighbor. That's also up to you.


Dustin, Nikki, Madison and Sage said...

Came across your blog after reading a comment you left about an ongoing "argument" on another's blog. Love this post and I agree with so many of the points you made. I know who I will vote for in the election, but I don't think the U.S. will turn upside down if the other guy wins. Neither candidate is perfect. It is up to me to make a difference in my little corner of the world. Rather than walk in fear and distrust, I want to keep my eyes on the One who can change my heart of stone rather than believe that a single President can bail us out of this mess. Many won't agree with my take and that's o.k. I can take it. Have a wonderful night!

The Albertsons said...

Thanks for your support.
And your "cricket... cricket..." comment almost made me pee in my pants. I really needed to laugh that hard after so many meanies tried to scare me away :)

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