Make a Decision 2008
I've been talking a lot about politics and faith the past weeks, how all faith is necessarily political, faith is meant to be visible, not just a question of private morality, or intellectual doctrines, but a life orientation, a foundational world-view that shapes our discernment, decisions and commitments. So I thought between now and the election I'd blog a bit on some of the decisions that are coming up.
I was struck by this thought this past weekend during and after a baptism in the church community I serve. The person who was baptized is highly involved and greatly visible within the context of our faith community. Gentle, kind, compassionate, helpful, thoughtful and engaged, it's a person who is recognized across the diversity of our community members as a leader. After worship 3 things happened to remind me of the power of baptism and the active integrative connection between faith and politics.
1) I was cleaning up the church and happened to be bent over picking up some papers when I turned and looked up through the baptism font water towards the light streaming through a stained glass window (Here's my best photo attempt to recreate the moment). The waters of baptism oriented what I saw, (re)shaped my experience of my context, and invited me to a different point-of-view, with a perspective on the margins of the majority view of the font (and life itself). That's what baptism is, more than an invitation to a new experience of life, it's a re-orientation of how we live, make our priorities, see ourselves, relate with one another, and understand the ultimate power of the universe: that death is transformed into new life by the power of God - all the little (and big) deaths that we experience in life.
2) I was reading Jesus for President, prepping for our ongoing series and read this great section on baptism. (Jesus for President, pp. 144-147. Click on the images to make them bigger and easier to read. If you enjoy it buy the book!)
3) In talking with kiddo #2 about the day, she told me that the bath-tism was really cool. Traditionally, at least in some parts of the church community, we understand baptism as a bath, a cleansing of evil, a renouncing of the power of the devil or forces of systemic evil in our world and life. Many folks I've known struggled with that, in particular regarding infants, wondering what evil they have to renounce. I think #2 is onto something, in particular in light of the JFP interpretation, it is a bath-tism: an invitation to a new life-orientation based upon the kingdom of God and its priorities as opposed to those of the nations of the earth, multinational corporations and other empires that seek at all expense to preserve their own power. I'd down for that sort of bath-tism which is more about action than information, more about participation than observation, more about activism than spiritualism. Faith is policital, that's what we've been bath-tized into.