Saturday, September 20, 2008

Government is not enough

I've been getting rather political lately, and I don't much like it. Not that I don't think there is a place for civil government, but... it's not really my place. At any rate, Jane pointed out Philip Yancey's article in the Sept. '08 issue of Christianity Today (can't find it online) called "On the Grand Canyon Bus: The Christian life is about the journey as well as the destination." Yancey was getting ready to speak at a state prayer luncheon, and he quotes Germon philosopher Jurgen Habermas as saying, "Democracy requires of its citizens qualities that it cannot provide." Yeah... I think that's a problem we've had a hard time dealing with.

He says in the article...
Politicians can conjure an exalted vision of a prosperous, healthy, free society, but no government can supply the qualities of honesty, compassion, and personal responsibility that must underlie this vision.

For all its strengths, the United States shows some alarming signs of ill health. With less than 5 percent of the world's population, we have 25 percent of the world's prisoners - more than Russian and China combined. We consume half of all the prescription drugs in the world, and yet by most standards our overall health ranks lower than most other developed countries'. In ever major city, homeless people sleep in parks and under bridges. And our leading causes of death are self-inflicted: obesity, alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases, stress-related illnesses, drugs, violence, environmental cancers. Obviously, politicians have not solved all our problems.

He doesn't point this out to say how bad the U.S. is, but rather, to recognize the vital role that faith plays in a healthy society.

He goes on...
People of the Christian faith are charged to uphold a different kind of vision. That this is God's planet, not ours, and as we scar it beyond repair, God weeps. That a person's worth is determined not by appearance or income or ethnic background or even citizenship status, but rather is bestowed as a sacred, inviolable gift of God. That compassion and justice - our care for "the least of these my brothers," in Jesus' words - are not arbitrary values agreed upon by politicians and sociologists, but holy commands from the One who created us.

Yancey compares it to a busload of tourists en route to the Grand Canyon who, the whole beautiful way there keep the shades pulled - intent only on the destination. "As a result," he says we "spend [our] time arguing over such matters as who has the best seat and who's taking too much time in the bathroom." He says, "We should remember that the Bible has far more to say about how to live during the journey than about the ultimate destination." Being an "either/or" type of person contradicts Jesus' message. We should be "both/and" people... "Devoted to God's creatures and God's children as well as to God, and as committed to this life as to the afterlife."

This was a good article for me to read. I don't know that it makes near as much difference who gets elected as President of the USA, as it does what kind of role faith plays in the lives of everyday people like you and me. So no matter what your preferred party, candidate, or even country of citizenship, don't let politics replace your vision and call from God to be his person, carrying out his mission, on our journey home. Let's keep the shades up and our eyes open.

Peace out, peeps; and in.