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Monday, November 1, 2010

And to the Republic, for which it Stands

I saw a sign while out in Madison the other day that bears repeating:

Save our country, vote Republican.

Now, without getting too political I wish to say that this is one of the most ignorant and saddening things I have ever read during an election year. Living in Northern Alabama in the deep South, there are some things that seem to be clear:

Our country is a mess and needs saving
We believe the means to saving our country is voting
The people we will vote for are Republicans

Let us analyze this thinking, because I think it would be quite helpful to seek understanding rather than to hastily throw ridicule at these well meaning people. Ignorance is not malice; this is something that I am learning rather slowly. Even willful ignorance is more of a defensive mechanism than an offensive attack. So, one by one, let us look at these assumptions.

Our country is a mess and needs saving

I agree; the United States is in horrible shape; at the dawn of the 21st century when progressives promised an increasingly likely technological utopia, we are instead more and more divided and sub sectioned. The more information becomes available the more lost in it we become until we are hopelessly overwhelmed by the data that is flowing into our brains. As Americans, we disagree on just about everything and we demonize one another for world views rather than to try to dialogue with each other and work towards a peaceful, rational coexistence.

We cannot agree on anything. Conservatives believe government is an oppressor and they want as little of it as possible; unless it gives them channels to make more of a profit. Among the Conservative camp I never seen such a time period in history (save the Gilded Age) where greed was excused and in some cases even honored as a virtue. Ayn Rand would be proud. Liberals believe that government is the ultimate helper and can solve all of our problems. Liberals also believe government is the ultimate enforcement tool and that at the end of the day, thought reform can only be sped up by coercion. Liberals don’t just want to control the production of goods; they want to control the production of thoughts.

Politicians have always been about power and influence; we should not be surprised at their beliefs and philosophies. Yet, when we ask the question, “How can we save our country,” we get the same answers, answers that have long worn out their welcome. Our country is in a mess; our economy is not producing anything and we are completely dependent on unhealthy, unwise, and spiritually damaging consumption that is destroying our humanity and our environment. We are constantly trying to solve all of our problems with weapons instead words; our military is stretched too thin to deal with every little country that does not like us. Conscription is not the answer and it will cause a dangerous unrest amongst the populace. Our social identities and beliefs are so radically different that we have to have the Supreme Court mediate between us so that we don’t annihilate one another. Increasingly, even this is failing as more liberal judges and make it more and more difficult to express free thought; thought that is not what one considers to be progressive.

We are unemployed; we have been thrown out of the halls of our own government; we are not really sure what America is or what it really stands for anymore. Some say, “Freedom” but is freedom something that can just arbitrarily be taken away; you are only as free as you live. God gave men and women the freedom to live within the boundless confines of his goodness. Yet, the “freedom” that America stands for is not the freedom the Gospel promotes; it is for a different kind of freedom that America stands. Others would say “democracy” but we are not even a democracy; there is a vast difference between an Athenian styled democracy and our Roman-based republic. We believe in representative government and therefore we are not truly democratic. However, the tide has been changing and we may soon see a shift, via technology, to a more Athenian style of government. The truth is America is about so much that it is about nothing at all; we fight for a Constitution we don’t even follow and disregard at will.
But America is not alone; all the countries of our world are a mess. Sin’s curse has reached a new high point in history and creation is groaning, being crushed by the sin’s of six billion people. It will not be long before all our accounts will be called in and all of those who have not been covered by the blood of Christ will have to pay up…forever. We should not be surprised that our nation or the whole world is
groaning with the frustration of living in a world descending into hell faster than the Titanic.

We believe the way to save our country is by voting

We are convinced that we can vote our way out of this mess; we are convinced that we will not reap what we have sown. If voting were the means to save a nation, then this nation should be a paradise of Enlightenment wisdom by now. However, history repeatedly disrupts our foolish notions that we can somehow make our nations safer, stronger, or wealthier by our ingenuity. There are countless examples of nations that voted for “hope” or “change” and ended up plunging themselves into depravity and misery.

Our election process is the best in the world; and it is an efficient and save way to transfer power. However, these politicians cannot save us; many are only interested in their own gain. Even we were able to fill Congress with good men and women; we would still fall short of righteousness. There are things that we have embraced; ideas and worldviews that we have adopted that have brought us to where we are today. No legislation will get us out of this; in fact, the more we try to save ourselves the thicker the quicksand becomes and the more we sink.

No one is thinking; no one is reflecting; no one is evaluating. We are all running around terrified like Henny Penny that the sky is falling, when it is not…not yet anyway. The current party’s decision to just throw more money at the problem has not fixed the problems created by the other party’s decisions; rather it has exacerbated them. One party wants to do nothing and hope the problems go away and the other party wants to do everything and hope they fix the problems by pure luck.
Why do we still have such faith in our legislative process?

The people we will vote for are Republicans

Folks, it is the Republicans’ fault that we are in a lot of messes we are in to begin with (Democrats have caused their own share of problems as well). While, I agree that the Democrats have turned a cooling tower failure into a nuclear meltdown; I do not foresee the Republicans doing much to stop it. The Republicans are the main cause of the financial crises; Conservative greed, deregulation, and the lowering of taxes during two wars to inoperable levels have created part of the mess we are in. However, the economy becoming entirely consumer/information based is not any one politician’s fault; we all have blame in that.

While one party throws mud at the other; while ideologs go back and forth with their grand philosophies we have ignored what has made America survive in the past: pragmatism, or what works. Now, I am not for that in every area of live lest we start letting ends justify means, but when it comes to governing, it is the best solution and forces us all to listen to each other. I am convinced that we would be able to at least tolerate most of our differences if we would just shut-up and listen. As long as we know everything and have the corner market on all truth then we will always be at each others’ throats.

We need to stop voting for Republicans; we need to stop voting for Democrats. We need to start voting for people who want to make the Republic work for everyone. Our government cannot save us and we should not ask it too; but that does not mean our government cannot be a tool we use to help people. We need get past the political philosophy and start working for government that is the arm of the people, with hands wide open to help those who need it and to provide prosperity to the willing.

“My kingdom is not of this world…” – Jesus to Pilate during his questioning

Most importantly we as Christians need to realize that all around the world we are a part of a kingdom that is not of this world; that is ruled by a supremely good king: Jesus Christ. We are not foremost citizens of the United States, Canada, France, China, or Mali…we are foremost citizens of the kingdom of God. We need to always work for the betterment of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. That means if the American government plans to invade a place like Pakistan, we should be concerned for the welfare of our brothers and sisters in Pakistan. We should be concerned what this will do to the witness of the Gospel and the attitude of Muslims toward our “Christian” nation and therefore, the Gospel message. We need to be concerned with far more than nationalist fervor and patriotism; because his kingdom is not of this world.

The challenge then is to live out the Gospel in all of our dealings and to work in our government toward furthering the work of the kingdom, while at the same time giving all men and women the rights that God affords them, which includes the rejection of the Gospel. We must seek to work to better our nation, but we must not become angry when we are slandered or rejected for our beliefs. We must simply do what we can and stand for what we believe in love and humility. It is only then that we may see God save our country and countless others around the world.

One nation becomes all nations under God; indivisible, with liberty in Christ and justice through him.

Grace and Peace


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