06 September 2008

Changing Whom We Believe In

I only occasionally read the Sojourners blog, but I was pretty pleased with Jim's post on Friday about the "Country First" language that prevailed in St. Paul last week (and was just as explicit in Denver the week before).
The high-powered and, frankly, militaristic rhetoric kept telling us that "country" should be put above everything else -- including family and friendship. But what about faith? Should country be put ahead of faith, too? I kept wanting to yell back at the people yelling at me about putting the country first and say, "No, not me, I'm a Christian."
In the spirit of putting "faith first," in Jim's words, Heather is talking about starting a group at school called "Duke Divinity students for Jesus (and in the meantime, for Barack Obama)". I predict that this will appall some of our colleagues, but it's at least an effort to explicate the nuanced position of a politically engaged Christian in America.

It's important that we continue to imagine and practice ways of working for good through the political system while making clear to everyone that our citizenship is in heaven. It's a problem that putting an Obama button on my backpack, or a Jesus fish on my car, or a Mets sticker on my laptop, all seem to carry the same valence: those are my allegiances. I don't know whether to blame politics for being so absolutist ("Obama supporters agree with him in every way") or Christian culture for being so simplistic ("All you have to do is say you believe in Jesus, and then you're in") but I'm looking for more nuanced perspective in political discourse and more genuine depth in Christian discipleship. Is that too much to ask?

I'm wondering if Heather's new group might find a willing member in her academic adviser, who just wrote a rather unenthusiastic book review of a new volume of essays by Christians who choose not to vote.

1 comment:

Perm said...

Thanks for writing this bit.
It's hard to come out of any sort of Hauerwasian-Storeyan formation and NOT have this first and foremost in mind and heart.

I can't help but think of the classic film _Chariots of Fire_ and Eric Liddel's struggle, as a Scots Presbyterian, with not running on his Sabbath (the grumpy old Englishman who retorts, "It was King first and God second in my day!").

How easy it is to slip into a "Country First" mentality, whatever one's political leanings, without even thinking -- especially during election season.