One of my favourite bloggers, Sarah Bessey, invited readers to share some questions with her and answering the questions would be the focus for her blog in August. It's funny, I feel so isolated sometimes in terms of what I believe but I have so many questions, too. I yearn for the chance to sit down and talk to people who will understand and since there seem to be so few people in the territory in which I have planted myself, evangelical and liberal at the same time, I often wish I could ask a few of my favourite bloggers to help me out. Politics has been a BIG one for me of late, especially since the election announcement yesterday. I was so excited to be able to ask Sarah about what she thinks and it made me think that it's only fair that I share my musings (I'm still forming my thoughts).
Obviously, there's a large part of the world whose politics are supposedly shaped by their faith, or so they would claim. To those of us who don't share those beliefs, it's hard not to think that the faith is shaped to meet their politics, not vice-versa. I don't understand how we can be reading the same Bible and come away with the same message. Hatred, judgement, oppression, violence and greed are so inconsistent with the Jesus whose teachings I'm reading in my NRSV but there are so many people who seem to read the Bible and come away with the idea that judgement, oppression and dog-eat-dog capitalism are the way Jesus wants us to go. I find that perplexing and, frankly, alarming. I can't help but think that Jesus is weeping at our stupidity.
On the other hand, I also worry that maybe I am guilty of the same thing. Am I so worried about loving and inclusion that I do push for a political system that 1. breeds dependence? 2. accepts anything, even when it's morally wrong, in the name of being inclusive? 3. is not economically sustainable, which ultimately is as oppressive (such as the collapsed system in the former Soviet Union or China's lack of freedom)? Where does Jesus direct us in terms of politics?
In considering where my vote will go, I am finding it increasingly hard to find a place (ah, such the story of my life). Clearly the Conservative platform in Canada is of no interest to me. The lack of funding for any programmes to support the poor, the horrific negligence of Canada's First Nations communities and the abysmal track record on the environment are so in opposition to everything I believe that I could never go that route.
On the other hand, I don't really feel at home in the left, either. It's interesting. On paper, the more left wing parties would certainly seem to be where most of my beliefs would fall. At the same time, there's something missing for me. I've been pondering it over the last few days. DH and I went as delegates to the provincial teacher's union meeting last summer (and are going again) and while I agreed with so much, there was still this tiny voice saying in my head, "I don't fit here." I couldn't place it and I've really struggled with what the gap is. I heard talk about social justice and support for initiatives that build up the poor. I heard talk about fair wages for low income workers (including a call to make sure that we didn't use the hotel cards saying we didn't need our rooms cleaned so that the hotel workers, who are not unionized and make minimum wage, would get more hours). There was tremendous respect shown to First Nations peoples and peoples of every minority group and a clear agenda to support all who are marginalized. Still, I didn't quite feel a fit. Why?
It finally came to me today. It's not what we believe but it's from what our belief is based. I don't just believe in justice for the sake of it being "right" but rather, that it's a call from God
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require
of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your
God. Micah 6:8.
This is not about being entitled to these rights but about being obedient to God's call. There is a struggle, too, between rights and the fact that we can't read the Bible without coming away with the idea that there are some moral absolutes which is sometimes at odds with the rights of others (e.g., such as that as Christians, the Bible clearly tells us that we are not to kill, which makes war, even in cases that some would qualify as "just war" questionable at best). We need to uphold the role of the family and the role of the community to support each other and for some, this is an old-fashioned ideal that is out of date. Most of all, we are to be ruled by love, not by anger, despite the horror of the situation or the frustration and we are to show respect, even to those with whom we entirely disagree.
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37 - 40
When the person with whom I agree politically is not guided by this command, there will always be a gap.
Anyone know of a Christian social justice party getting started?