Saturday, August 20, 2005

Politics, Pain, and Patrick

I thought it might put the cat amongst the pigeons to post a political post -- and it did. But it also proved something: for all the talk about how we should be united and allow diversity of thought and speech, when someone steps outside the lines we have drawn politically it is hard not to jump all over them. Almost all of the comments -- even those who misunderstood me or took me to task -- were still irenic and thoughtful. Eight or nine had to be removed because of language, attitude, etc. I might one day create a political blog, but this isn't it. This one is about how we deal on a practical level with what we say we believe. My findings are what most of us would expect: we talk a better game than we play.

We talk about the spirit of Christ, about the evils of traditionalism and factionalism, but we react in sarcasm, personal attacks, and by piling on assertions rather than making arguments. NOTE: if anyone is guilty of this, I am, too. I find myself trapped in a Romans 7 lifestyle while my spirit wants to soar in chapter eight's truths.

I once mentioned in a sermon that I was not a member of any political party. A woman went out and said, "You may say you're not a member of any party but you're the most Republican preacher I've ever met!" Later a young man went out and asked if we could meet for breakfast the next morning. After that breakfast I asked him what he was going to do the rest of that day. He told me, "You don't want to know." I told him that -- yes, -- that was true before... I was only being polite, but that now I really DID want to know! He told me that he was going to work for President Bush's re-election. I asked him"Why did you think I didn't want to know about that?" He replied, "You've always struck me as a touchy-feely Democrat kind of guy.

Ready for the kicker? He was the son of the woman who made the comment about me being the most Republican preacher she'd ever met.

Fact is, I was once a member of the Scottish National Party from about 1979-1987. Since then I haven't been a member of any party. I voted for Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan (not in the same election....) and have never voted a straight ticket in my life. In my heart (and I am now bracing myself for incoming fire from my friends and worse from my... uh.... non-friends) I am libertarian. I believe in the freedom to believe what you believe and to live free from any rules or laws except those absolutely required. But notice I used a little "l" because the party that bears that name has too many anti-Christian principles for me to carry their card.

I can't be a Democrat for their concept of forced re-allocation of funds is offensive to me. I can't be a Republican because their "sink or swim" ideology doesn't cover all the bases and leaves too many people behind. I don't support gay marriage, but I think heterosexuals have harmed marriage far more than homosexuals ever could so which party should I rally with?

I believe in giving away my possession, money and time to any who need it. Those who know me know I live out that belief, sometimes to the point of irrationality. But I do not believe in forcing, by law, others to give to anyone. I find the Bible to be a book that will not make the left or the right happy. It requires a personal response to needs. The only corporate directives are to the group who have voluntarily placed themselves under the authority of God. We are never called to create a Christian government. We are called to be Christians regardless of the government. We are not asked to let the government do the church's work.

Last political statement and then I will return to the arena I prefer -- God and life (although, this is also God and life to me). I believe that the existence of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and vice laws are testimony to the failure of the church to take care of its own. I shudder to think of God's response to our failure to lavishly give to our needy, care for our elderly with respect and sacrifice, and provide homes for any who need them. I don't have time to bash Clinton or Bush. It is taking everything I have just to live for Jesus -- and I'm not doing that good a job yet.

I want to get better. I want to play whatever part He requires of me and I know that starts with the first step: giving Him access to everything I have and everything I am.


At 8/20/2005 08:01:00 PM , Blogger Mark Mason said...

Can I be the first to say Amen!? Even though I felt a little rebuked by that, I am sure I needed it. Politically, I would be classed slightly to the right of Atilla the Hun - but I actually did vote for a Democrat for Governor of West Virginia this year, along with about 75% of the rest of this state. He is firmly pro-life, and received the full endorsement of West Virginians for Life. Most conservative, religious Republicans in this state voted for him. His name is Joe Manchin, and if I were a concerned Democrat, I would find out all I could about him and promote him for national office - he could take the White House back and keep it for 2 terms. But, before I help the "enemy" too much, I will shut up.

I read Hebrew and Aramaic, and "Abba" does mean "daddy" - but I am convinced it was never spoken in the flippant way that concerns many today - so perhaps it is not the best dynamic equivalent translation for our time. I am not sure what might be - suggestions?

- Mark Mason

At 8/20/2005 10:34:00 PM , Blogger Stephen said...

As a former journalist, I can honestly say that the whole Camp Casey bit is just sheer lunacy. Only American media seem to talk about it. Our television antenna in Ashtabula is stuck north so all we get is Canadian television and occasionally stuff from Detroit. Believe it or not, the Canadians never ever really take about that whole mess at all. As a former journalist my considered opinion would be that it is not newsworthy to be covering for so long.

Controversy happens. Culture and religion do collide. In my mind, you said nothing wrong. I just had to assist Tim K at a funeral for my uncle Rick. He was a veteran of the United States Army and had military honors at his funeral in Ashtabula. He had died in Nevada due to a tragic accident at home involving medication and forgetfulness. The gun salute and the playing of taps had me crying whereas nothing Tim said or did even brought me anywhere close to tears. As I said to Tim this morning, my uncle Rick already got to the party in heaven early. What hurts is not his death but that I have to wait a little while before I can catch up with him to join him at that great and glorious party.

At camp my educational philosophy as Education Director was not too bad. My job was not to fill the heads of the kids up with the latest in theological innovation just like I were adding petrol to a gas tank. Far from it. My job was to teach the kids who Jesus was and is...and what that means in how they need to live life. If it touched upon "sensitive matters" like politics or other things that was okay. It is a nasty, fallen world out there. How can one talk about leading a Christian life without talking about how such a life intersects with that nasty, fallen world out there?

I strongly preferred armoring the kids (3rd-12th graders) as best as I could with ways to apply Christianity to life in this crazy world. I did not want to treat them as gas tanks to be filled up with innovative stuff they would have no conceivable practical use for. Where oh where does Jesus ever talk about life being safe or things being safe in this life? Did He not say He was coming bearing a sword?


At 8/21/2005 12:13:00 AM , Blogger Neal W. said...

Another post I can get on board with.

At 8/21/2005 01:29:00 PM , Blogger David U said...

That's what I'm talking about. You go ahead on, PM!



At 8/21/2005 08:26:00 PM , Blogger DEL said...

So, Patrick, we need a new 'political' party! Excitement!!! Sadness, I suspect we'd have very few members. How about, "Patrick for President"? I know where we could get bumper stickers for cheap. :-)

Mr. Manchin....promised to re-instate funding for the WVU Rifle Team, then striped the money from the budget. Same-O-Same-O

I take refuge in the Peace That Surpasses All Understanding, and pray my Tent Pegs are not rooted too deeply.

Don Lohr

At 8/22/2005 09:23:00 AM , Blogger Jared Cramer said...

Patrick, thank you for this excellent post. I resonate with your political frustration as I find myself frustrated with many of the parties you mentioned for many of the same reasons.

I know just-war is rejected by some of my profs at RC, but I never got the impression it was rejected quite as soundly as you put it. I was trying to express frustration when my brothers-in-arms claim my pacifist brothers are are cowards, hiding behind others weapons, or have no respect for people who have given their lives in the military. I was trying to express the fact that there are difficult issues and tensions when it comes to Christian violence and non-violence--similar to the political tension you expressed so eloquently in this post.

You're a good man, a good Christian, and someone I deeply admire as a minister. I look forward to helping you out in my own little way in that most difficult ministry in January. ;-)

At 8/22/2005 09:59:00 AM , Blogger Steve Duer said...

You have said it well. I will simply say Amen.

At 8/23/2005 07:30:00 AM , Blogger Josh.Graves said...

It was unfortunate that someone pasted your post to Cope's blog the other day...I don't think the previous post to this was a fair representation to your whole "philosophy" of politics.

This post is the Patrick that many do not always see and hear...usually because they "see what they want to see."

I hope we can have someone who posts consistently who can articulate the pacifist position with clarity and precision. One of my best teachers in graduate school is a pacifist but not in the ways that is conventionally painted.

I have wrestled a great deal with all different sides with "pseudo" Just War folks, real Just War advocates, radical pacifists, practical pacifists, etc. I welcome each person to the table to have a voice. Though those with thin skin need not apply.

I've got to go now...I have a training session with my cage fighter instructor :)

At 8/23/2005 09:58:00 AM , Blogger JD said...

As always, not only an enjoyable read, but an enlightening one as well.

At 8/23/2005 02:30:00 PM , Blogger Kirsten said...

another post I can "Amen" to. thank you Patrick, for articulating what many of us cannot. it's like you read so much of my mind but were able to put it into words, whereas I cannot most of the time.


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