Friday, December 03, 2004

Politics and God’s people

On Tuesday about 12 people gathered at the Leffel’s place for a Communality round-table conversation about Politics. It was a wide-ranging conversation that attempted to identify some hot-button issues and bring questions about ‘the ways of Jesus’ to bear on our life together in the United States in 2004.(There's More)Here’s what the e-invite said….

We wanted to let you know about a group of us who are gathering to discuss our faith with respect to social, political and economic issues of the day. After the election and the remarkable division in our nation and the church, some have voiced a desire to turn to Scripture together to study the prophets and especially the teachings of Jesus in order to better understand what it means to be a Christian in the United States. Of course this is not compulsory and yet it certainly isn't exclusive. All are welcome. Some of us are tired and weary and don't wish to talk about current issues at the moment. Some of us are eager for a conversation that engages with Scripture and the issues of our world…

Here’s my attempt at summarizing some of the things we felt good about affirming in our community:

1) We recognize the particular concern God’s people must have for “the least of these”. In this spirit, we recognize the “social margins” are an important space for us to live out the whole gospel.
2) There is continuity between this world and the world to come. Therefore, what happens in the Town Hall, the Local Council, the State Government, all the way to the White House matters to the people of God. In fact, all of creation is our concern if this is the case….it’s not “all gonna burn…”
3) Our involvement should not be for the sake of getting ‘our man’ (or woman) into power. We must always apply a Kingdom-critique to people and systems in and of power. So we will celebrate holiness (in the ways of Jesus) and denounce corruption and sin.
4) We are determined not to take ourselves too seriously. Much of the ‘heat’ of the political tension in the Christian community and American society in general is directly related to our inability to love one another and avoid honoring ideology above people. We want to be people of humble-conviction.
5) We hope to challenge individualism with interdependence (sometimes called ‘community’). The theological teaching about the Trinity creates a social/relational image that can inspire a politics rooted in setting aside our own needs for the sake of others (other-centered).
6) We are ultimately optimistic about our world and the way we can organize our human existence together because God is at work and we are being Holy-Spirited into a present and future that is SHALOM.

To those of you who were there…how does this equate with what you experienced? Did I forget/misrepresent anything?
To those of you who couldn’t make it….how does this look to you? Positives, negatives, general comments and hopes.

We hope to have some more of these round-table gatherings in the new year.

One other thing I would add to this….i think Doug Pagitt is onto something when he suggests we must learn to embody a Prophetic presence in the world. I think this might be the best biblical image for us to be political people…but it must include a collective dimension to being prophetic - not (just?) the individual fist-shaker. This fits with the "collective charisma" we talked about at the retreat. Read this post to get a better glimpse of this image. I’m going to look into this and write some more soon…
Peace on Earth.

1 comment:

Will said...

Wonderful thoughts. Wish I could have been there with you all. I would love to hear more of the discussion about interdependence. This is such a huge crisis for the Church, especially as you get into the suburbs where everyone lives divided from each other by fences.

I also like the thoughts on being a prophetic voice, but how that must come from within the community of God, not just "individual fist-shakers". That ties back to the interdependence issue.