December 13, 2016
As a Christian in the United States, I hope to find ways to serve both democracy and shalom.
Let me add to the suggestions. Commit to focusing more on local matters, political and especially otherwise. Work to help care for you own neighborhood and work out from that. Which would be my advice whether Trump or Clinton was elected.
No, national politics is not bad. It is necessary. But in past decades, too much emphasis has been on national politics and national government, and too little on that which is more local and regional. And in significant part, that shift has brought us many of the problems we have. A high degree of division along all kinds of lines, nearly $20 trillion in national debt, a 2008 recession that still lingers, an increased population of poor that have also become entrenched in learned dependency, etc.
Society simply works better if done from the bottom up instead of top down, and we've become much too top heavy.
This is an inspiring plan, Jonathan. I agree that to simply say "God is on the throne" is an insufficient response as Jesus' followers, even it it's true. And we have more important things to focus on now than either despairing or gloating. like being the very kinds of leaders that we would hope to elect to office – men and women of integrity, humility, justice, and compassion.
I have many friends from all parts of the political spectrum. I find that the issue is often not so much what needs fixing as how to fix it. "treating immigrants humanely as an expression of God’s hospitality. For peace with Iran rather than another interminable war in the Middle East. For extending health care to our poorest brothers and sisters." etc. are important. However, I usually feel that things should be taken care of by private or Non Governmental organizations (NGOs) rather than through the government. My liberal friends seem to feel that the government should fix everything. It seems to me that the government usually spends more to do less than private organizations. My answers usually mean getting the government out of the way or doing less through the government.
While I am sure the new administration will not do everything the way I think it should, hopefully it will steer things in a new direction.
I struggled with voting this year. Voting for an administration that supported pushing the abortion issue to the max was not an option. There really was no choice, but Trump. I agree that we need to find common ground and not give up on government issues. We are not a democracy, but a republic. There is a difference. We have a government that is taking over where it has no business. People need to step up and do things for themselves. To be spoon fed by a government is just NOT an option! We are allowing the social interests to confuse what common sense our country has left. We need to step up and be Americans. United in purpose, but not in uniformity. We need to stand up for the issues that make us great! Issues that God set up for us to follow!
In Reply to Doug Vande Griend (comment #29665)
Thanks for the thoughts, Doug. I've been thinking along these "act local" lines too, but I have reservations about focusing only on local levels. On one hand, we can do a lot of good in local contexts, and actually talk face to face with neighbors, which is important. But there's frankly a ton happening at international and national levels that's too important and fast-moving to leave alone. Global climate treaties, nuclear treaties, trade agreements, tax policy, health care policy, and on, have huge effects that filter down locally. But they're determined at the national level. That's God's sphere too. The more that lawmakers and appointees know that conscientious citizens are paying attention, the less beholden they are to lobbyists and insiders.
My comment would be that you are definitely right--I wish I had your energy to do what you outline as your plan, Jon. One thing I do not understand, as a Christian, is why it is always necessary for us to judge whether the poor and down-trodden really deserve our help. Did Jesus weigh the pros and cons f helping our brother and sisters? If he didnt what makes us feel we must do so? Oh, right, they may use our money or help wrongly (in our eyes). So--not our problem.
Also, I think the shalom concept needs to be explained a bit.
The article has a lot of good practical suggestions. This was certainly a tough election with many people on both sides of the fence not totally happy with their options. I do have a couple minor disagreements with the author.
For one, I think that trying to engage on Facebook in civil conversations has not been a waste but has made a little bit of difference in people understanding each other better. Flaming and name-calling is useless. But I've had discussions where I've learned to appreciate someone else's different viewpoint and I hope I've kindly returned the favor.
Secondly, if we were told that someone earns a salary of $65,400 and another earns $62,800 most people would say that their salaries are in the same ballpark. The latest vote counts for Hillary vs Trump are the same proportions (just add three zeroes). This is only a difference of around 2% which disagrees with the author's statement "...Democrats winning the popular vote by a significant margin.." It's not significant. It's marginal. There is no mandate -- for either side.
To the point about Hillary Clinton "winning" the popular vote: if you exclude California and New York, she didn't win the popular vote. The possibility of large states or population centers dominating the electoral process is precisely why the Founders created the Electoral College, to create a safeguard against the tyranny of the majority. Similar to the representation in the House based upon population, but representation in the Senate based upon statehood (i.e., every state has the same number of senators).
In Reply to Evalyn verhey (comment #29670)
Thanks, Evie. Shalom is the poetic vision offered by Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah and Micah, and later in the gospels, of the wolf and the lamb dwelling in peace, the leopard and the goat, of sight restored to the blind, the lame walking, the poor hearing good news and getting a fair shake. I wrote more about it here: https://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/4016/sustainable-shalom-the-hope-of-bright-green-urbanism/
("It's a vision marked not by the absence of forbidden acts but by the presence of healthful ones—dancing, singing, feasting, inventing, building, resting—all alongside a God who laughs and plays.")
It was an important discovery in my life because it shows that Christian faith is about more than avoiding forbidden acts (a message that wasn't always clear growing up). It's a pro-active vision of thriving, not just reacting to thou-shalt-nots. We need more poetic, artistic, and cultural expressions of shalom--including from great artists like you!
In Reply to dennis miller (comment #29671)
Dennis, thanks for your comments. And props to you for engaging across differences on Facebook. We need civil, reasoned exchange wherever we can get it. I know lots of folks who have found Facebook to be an important source of solace and community after the election. I'm glad for them, even as I recognized I was spending too much time there. Twitter has been even more problematic for me--more vitriol, more outrage, less kid photos and happy stuff to leaven the bad news. And of course it all depends on who one follows on such sites.
I wrote more about social media and distraction and calm in this book review. I recommend this book enormously: http://www.seattlereviewofbooks.com/reviews/count-how-many-notifications-you-get-while-reading-this-review/
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