Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Jesus for President

From now until mid-November - election-time - I'm preaching and teaching on the Sermon on the Mount, the principal teaching of Jesus of Nazareth as retold in Matthew 5-7:29. I'm also using the recently published book Jesus for President for inspiration and as a context for some discussion groups both online, and offline at the church I serve and in local cafes. We, as North Americans, tend to approach faith & politics in extreme ways: either we're convinced that they inseparable and that we can only elect the God-chosen predestined person (usually a man) to lead our country as some sort of quasi-clergy-statesman or we completely divorce faith from politics saying that one doesn't have to do with the other, refusing to let not just creationism into the schools or our public discourse - we go so far as to negate any notion or reference of a divine presence that gets slightly specific. I think we lose perspective in the midst of it all, forgetting that our worldviews are shaped by our religious or spiritual foundations and inextricably linked to the way we treat each other, imagine a better society, and articulate our hopes for the future: in short our politics.

In the explosively covered last 10 days of the presidential election there has been more and more, what I'd call extrem-izing, coverage of hot topics, crucial concerns for voters. It's nearly impossible to escape. Several friends have expressed that they're not sure that they can survive the constant media onslaught until that Tuesday in distant November. Another friend told me that I might be searching for trouble in preaching about politics and faith for the next 10 weeks. But it's not about taking a political stance. In fact my political thoughts are rather evident. Yet I'm not interested in towing the party line. I'm interested in getting underneath things to see how Jesus of Narzareth is calling me to value other human beings, envision the future, and work to make the Kingdom of God visible here and now.

Our political parties play to the "christian" (yet what they really mean is evangelical) crowds, thinking that they're the unique focus group that once won over to a party will magically deliver the needed electoral college votes. Yet not all Christians are for creationism taught in schools, for the war in Iraq, indifferent to renewable energy concerns and our emerging focus on ethanol, and for teaching only absitence. In the end I base my political thoughts on my experience and context: living in Oakland, struggling in the public school system, having lived in France with their socialized medical system, being brought up in a highly conservative evangelical suburb of Sacramento, and my reformed life-transforming perspective that Jesus is the one to follow.

What do you base your political views upon?

How does your faith journey impact your political perspective? Why?

From now until E-day I'll be blogging on "Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals" you can join the discussion online here at Monteskewed, you can read the book for yourself, check out the book's website, and even attend 2 very cool faith encounter discussions led by Rabbi Harry Manhoff of Temple Beth Shalom (San Leandro) who is a New Testament Scholar and will lead a study of the Sermon on the Mount at Bethel Community Church on Wednesdays, September 3rd and 10th at 7:30pm.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Thanks for this info. I am sharing with Bethel folks, when we tackle "Jesus for President" in a few weeks!! You are so smart!!!!