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.


MR said...

To put things in perspective, there's not enough political distance between these two candidates for it to be a huge deal one way or the other who wins. I like the way Obama talks, he SAYS all the right things, I just don't agree with his actual policies which are somewhat contradictory and traditional to his party.

I wouldn't have picked McCain for traditional conservative values, because he doesn't represent them. Thus his "Maverick" title. But I do admire that he is impervious to the pressures of even his own party and does what he thinks is right. That's a presidential quality.

As far as the discussion, I like to discuss politics and even go so far as a spirited debate--but I wouldn't say I'm emotionally invested in this election. Now that Iraq is less of an issue as the ground between the candidates has shrunk on this as well. Bush intends to leave office with Iraq self-sufficient so no matter what the outcome, they should remain stable. That was an important issue to me that seems to be wrapped up.

'tis the season for political banter, but what I don't like about this process every four years is that people like me have to listen to extremists peppered throughout the news. Both parties do it, they will hand the microphone to any wacko with a conspiracy theory and deep hatred of this country. They do it to rally support, like "see how the other party is? You need to get up and vote for us!" The irony, of course, is that they can say that because this is a great country, but I can't believe there are that many people out there who are so ungrateful for what they have. So in THAT respect, I'll be glad when the votes are counted, and I hope those people receive no satisfaction from the verdict.

This is why the forefathers invented blogging.

MR said...

Also... I think the only place religion and politics should touch is how we try to be a country "Under God". Not withstanding the lawyers that want the 10 commandments out of government buildings, the crosses off the city seals and prayer out of our schools.

dan h. said...

Yeah, I think politics might not be so bad if it weren't for all the politicking.

And I'm all for separation of church and state. Even trying to keep things "under God" doesn't settle the question of whose God. So I prefer them not telling me what to do regarding religion, and I won't tell them what to do as far as politics. Well, you know, other than on my blog.

MR said...

Well, as the Declaration of Independence says, "Nature's God" and "the creator". Implying we're all talking about the same God, regardless of our various interpretations.

Have you noticed there's only two opinions in here? We make other bloggers look like tourists. They must have lives.

dan h. said...

Yeah... I've actually noticed a real dip in my readership since I've been on this political bent. Well, and any time I blog about anything serious it goes down. Hmm. I think it's a plot.

Jim said...


Quit watching yer readership stats. It's a dead end. Really. Weirdly enough, my stats went down when I STOPPED being "serious", so go figure.

People are reading you. You are expressing yourself. Be content.

God's blessings.


dan h. said...

But if I quit watching "them," how will I know when "they're" watching me? It's a plot I tell ya... and I won't let them win! Mwahahaha....

Jim said...

Just think of it as related to stopping taking attendance at church. :o)

MR said...

Well, if it gets down low enough, you know what to do: "What's Wrong w/ Dolly Part 2"

dan h. said...

Hey, I wasn't exactly sayin' I wanted *more* readers. Just that the numbers were down. Blogging is MUCH easier when no one reads (not that I'm sayin I don't want anyone to read). And I could certainly never top "What's Wrong With Dolly."

Thanks for gettin my comments into double digits though! :)