I find myself torn this morning. USAToday reports:
As the East Coast began to experience the initial flooding from Hurricane Sandy on Monday, Mitt Romney appealed to his supporters to consider donating to the Red Cross and to keep those in the path of the storm in their “hearts and prayers.”
I cannot agree more. Initial reports, late last night, indicate that the devastation in lower Manhattan may be extraordinarily significant. The press being the press, I have seen little of elsewhere; they do tend to be a bit New York centric. Having served clients up and down Manhattan and the Long Island sound, I find myself preoccupied with their welfare.
But the press is also full of reports, articles and punditry on the election and religion. The beat goes on. Therefore, I pray hard for the entire eastern seaboard and ask you to join me. But with that placed firmly in God’s hands I find I must turn to the normal business at hand.
For the second day in a row, we run into an article saying Mormons were socialistic in their founding. I find this charge leveled now and at Mormons truly odd. There is a long history of socialist thought in Christianity generally. (I wonder if a reporter ever read Acts 2?) I have often marveled at the fact that this “charge” was never leveled at any candidate claiming Christian credentials. This is not a place where Mormons and normative Christians part company, and yet they seem to want to make a big deal of it right now. This reveals deep political motivations on one hand and a total misunderstanding of Christianity on the other.
Entire treatises have been written this subject from a theological and sociological perspective. I cannot begin to unpack it all here. Let’s try and sum this up simply. There is a major and important distinction between a community that holds all things commonly on a voluntary basis, driven by religious impulse – that’s charitable – and a society in which the coercive force of government is used to confiscate all things and distribute them in accordance with some perceived hierarchy of need.
And while we are thinking deeply, if you have not seen this creepy apocalyptic pro-Obama ad, you really should check it out. It is black-and-white, featuring small kinds singing. Here’s a sample of the lyric:
We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And we’re kinda blaming you
We haven’t killed all the polar bears
But it’s not for lack of trying
Big Bird is sacked
The Earth is cracked
And the atmosphere is frying
The ad is frightening both in the power it assigns the presidency and the hope it places in the man it seeks to support for the job. I have taken a lot of heat from some quarters in the last couple of years becasue I honestly did not believe that Obama could do as much damage as he has. I thought that the checks and balances of our government would serve to temper his natural inclinations. It looks at this juncture like the ultimate check – the vote – will do that job – but a lot of amazing stuff has transpired between votes. We almost don’t remember now, but there was a huge turnover in the administration in the first couple of years. In retrospect, it was the adults leaving the building.
When Obama was elected, I looked at his appointments and figured that the obviously under-experienced president was surrounding himself with old hands that would temper his unchecked youthful exuberances and the results would not be too extraordinary. But then the old hands started leaving like rats on a ship going down. Clearly, this was a guy that would not listen to reason and that you could not work with.
When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.
I see that maxim so clearly illustrated in this ad. It really is frightening if you think about it.
Finally, I want to turn briefly to this call for Christians to abstain from voting. It is an interesting argument, actually couple of arguments. On the one hand it calls for disengagement from politics if politics has become some sort of idol. Political idolatry is precisely the sin we see in the ad we just examined. The answer; however, is not withdrawal from politics, anymore that starvation is the answer if food has become an idol. One must learn to balance one’s commitment to God with the world in which we live.
The other argument the author advances by quoting Thabiti Anyabwile :
It seems to me that if we really believe the system is broken but we vote anyway, we simply nullify our contention that the system is broken.
I find this to be extraordinarily binary thinking. God KNEW we were broken, but He did not abandon us, rather he redeemed us. The system is not functioning well, but is it irredeemable? I doubt few would claim that. And its redemption comes not from holding it at arms length, but by diving in and seeking to correct.
I understand the distaste for much of politics, particularly in light of ads like the one we looked at a moment ago. But the only way to make it tasteful is to get busy. The best way to start getting busy is to vote next Tuesday.