Thursday, March 6, 2008

Political parties are missing the point

Allan R. Bevere links to a post by N. Thomas Wright, Anglican Bishop of Durham, England. This is apparently in response to a question about which political party Jesus would choose.

Jesus didn't run for anything. He acted as if he were a different kind of ruler altogether, with a 'kingdom' that didn't originate from the present world (otherwise, he said, his servants would fight to rescue him) but instead was meant FOR this present world, to transform and heal it. The present way we do politics and government is, alas, part of the problem, and he would have challenged it (its huge cost, its pretense of participation which is shamelessly manipulated by the media, its cult of personality, its ignoring, all too often, of the actual needs of the poor, etc. etc.) just as he challenged the power structures of his day.

But for some people, the power structures ARE God. Let's start with Daniel Schmidt in 2004:

I have heard over and over that this election was about values....Supporters of the President have demanded religion over rhetoric. These opinions made me think, “What would Jesus do?” I am not a biblical scholar so I pulled out a Bible. I couldn’t believe what I found! Jesus was a democrat!

Matthew 15:30 states, “Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them.”

If Jesus were a Republican He would have asked for a medical insurance card. If these sick people didn’t have one, He would have suggested getting a job and opening up a medical savings account. He would have also warned the people not to import any prescription drugs because that would be illegal.

Becky reports a different WWJD view from 2006:

Christian leaders, activists and politicians have gathered in Washington, DC for the Values Voter Summit, a slick conference sponsored by the Family Research Council, Americans United to Preserve Marriage, the American Family Association, and Focus on the Family in an effort to shore up lagging Christian support for Republicans. The group is discussing abortion, school prayer, gay marriage, judicial reform, feminism, liberal media, the "millions of Muslims" who want us all dead, and "the role of the church in political issues" – and they even have a session on "exposing liberal groups." The conference is clearly Christian and Republican....

Press who have attended the events so far are reporting that attendees are being urged to set aside their frustrations with President Bush and turn out for Republican candidates....As James Dobson put it, "There is no choice, because the alternative is terrible."...

In a nutshell, Christian voters are getting a very clear message from the non-profit, non-partisan sponsors of this Value Voter Summit: Set aside your disappointment over Republicans' lack of commitment to your "values" like gay marriage, abortion, and liberal media. Don't hold them accountable for breaking their promises to you. Because the Democrats are worse – much worse. And they won't protect you from the biggest threat of all – Muslims who want to kill you.

Now since I'm the guy who's talking about third parties, let's look at the Constitution Party:

[Bob Fischer] raised the possibility of Christian conservatives lining up behind the Constitution Party, citing its conservative moral stances and ability to get on state ballots, a steeper challenge for an entirely new party.

The Constitution Party, which calls itself "completely pro-life, pro-gun, pro-American sovereignty and independence," has secured spots on about 16 state ballots and hopes to exceed 40, national field director Gary Odom said. The party has nominated founder Howard Phillips as its presidential candidate in the past and will select its candidate in April.

But there's another view:

Liberation theologians agree with Marx's famous statement: "Hitherto philosophers have explained the world; our task is to change it." They argue that theologians are not meant to be theoreticians but practitioners engaged in the struggle to bring about society's transformation. In order to do this liberation theologyemploys a Marxist-style class analysis, which divides the culture between oppressors and oppressed. This conflictual sociological analysis is meant to identify the injustices and exploitation within the historical situation. Marxism and liberation theology condemn religion for supporting the status quo and legitimating the power of the oppressor. But unlike Marxism, liberation theology turns to the Christian faith as a means for bringing about liberation. Marx failed to see the emotive, symbolic, and sociological force the church could be in the struggle for justice. Liberation theologians claim that they are not departing from the ancient Christian tradition when they use Marxist thought as a tool for social analysis. They do not claim to use Marxism as a philosophical world view or a comprehensive plan for political action.

But all of these ignore the key question - would Jesus support the Redskins or the Cowboys? Forget about politics, let's discuss serious issues here. (And don't cite Tom Landry, because I'll just cite Joe Gibbs. Nyah nyah.)

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