9/06/2008

Jesus, Politics and Anglican Blogland

It is no one's fault, really. What with it being the political season and an election of a President coming up soon (thank God) the temptation to write about politics, candidates and the foibles of exaggerations taken to exaggerated extremes is too much for most of us, most of the time. So in the past little while most American Anglican Blogsites have gotten into the mix.

Titus One Nine carries so much information on the political scene that it swamps their otherwise focused coverage. (I do like the fact that Canon Harmon does get appropriate family licks in once and a while.) BabyBlue, Susan Russell, Elizabeth Kaeton, and others have been opining about matters political. And last week I posted my preference for Senator Obama. Well, its the season, I suppose. Friends from across the ocean in England have seen fit to make the occasional comment as well.


I have been stuck on a writing task related to last week's blather about children conceived outside marriage. One thing that struck me is that Lambeth 1.10 from 1998 is woefully inadequate when it comes to dealing with the realities of sexuality in these days. If you recall, Lambeth 1998 "upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage." Well, it appears that leading figures in national politics in administrations past and in ones to come have experiences in their families that involve neither marriage nor abstention. Lambeth 1.10 didn't have much to say about all that. It has very little to say to most of us. Sexuality is larger than the boxes of marriage and abstinence can hold.

So I'm trying to write something on sex and sexuality beyond Lambeth 1.10. It is hard going, in part because I don't particularly feel like ranting, and ranting would help. It would be much easier if I could rant with the big ones - like George Carlin or Hunter S. Thompson. But then I'd have to be crazy with talent and perhaps on a buzz with friendly pharmaceutical aids.

In the midst of the pain of trying to write with charity and clarity both, I was struck with a bit of Jesus, politics and the like that grew from Governor Palin's snotty digs at Senator Obama's experience as a community organizer and Senator McCain's suggestion that perhaps his opponent was casting himself in the role of the savior.

The visual response most often given in response to the Governor's comment was this graphic (see to the right). The caption says, "Jesus was a Community Organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor." That's pretty good. Of course neither sentence is completely true. Pilate was a governor, although not elected, so that hardly counts. And Jesus was not a community organizer. Still as a supporter of Obama I kind of liked it, so I understand why it was out there.


We ought to remember, however, that Jesus ticked off as many people who wanted a little organizing as he did those who wanted a little governing. No king, no people's march on Jerusalem, no riots in the streets, no protective state militia with truncheons at the ready. Nada. What was he good for? That got asked a lot. The Answer: The Cross and Resurrection. Different story, minimal biography. You couldn't tell from his experience that it was going to come out the way it did.

Governor Palin, Senator McCain, Senator Obama and Senator Biden are going to have to find Jesus, if at all, on their own, just like the rest of us. And, believing as I do that the candidates do not have to be Christian or for that matter religious, I am appalled that religious vetting is taking place at all. But I digress.

Jesus, it turns out, has a job. Sort of like the LORD, whose name is "I am that I am," Jesus is mostly "I am who I am." Good Anglicans know that mostly Jesus is known in the breaking of the bread, although we will admit that hearts get strangely warmed and good witness is good food too.


Governors and Senators and Presidents and for that matter Priests and Bishop may give bread, but Jesus is that Bread, and if we get honest about it all we can tell the difference between the bread of the market place and the Bread of Life.

People will crawl on their bended knees to have just a crumb of this Bread. To our shame we will even do what the church tells us to do in order to eat of that bread. We will be polite about such silliness as Lambeth 1.10. We will grovel our way into meetings with high mucky mucks in the church on the grounds that maybe they have a corner on the bread market. We will put up with preachers preaching humbug fear inducing violence and listen like lambs being led to slaughter to arguments that place virtue above love, every time.

But somewhere deep within we are not fooled: The Senator was an organizer, which can be good or bad, filled with experiences that change lives or deadly as the worst of administrative posts. The Governor is just that, and she can be either a Pontius Pilate or have the wisdom of the judges of Israel. The old guys, McCain and Biden, can be frozen in time past or excited by times to come, they can be visionary or blind. All of them can give bread or stones. Same for Bishops, Archbishops, parish priests and what all.

We will see how it all comes down. Before, after and during this election cycle we will I hope continue to seek the Bread of Life which sure as hell is not found in the bread and circus that American elections have become.

The election campaign seems to be turning in on personalities and the question is, "who do you trust?" Well, bubba, I can't say I trust any of these folk, but then again that's not the point. I want them to talk about bread, regular bread, and how to see that everyone gets a slice. And if they don't produce in office what they say on the campaign trail we will make their lives miserable, curse them to their face and blame their parents, spouses, children and party. But before that can happen we have to get them to speak to issues of justice and policies that serve us all but particularly the poorest of the poor.

Meanwhile back in Anglican Blogland, tempting as it is to pay attention to the civil politics of the near present, where the US and Canada both are having national elections in the next few weeks, we need to pay attention to upcoming actions political and otherwise in our beloved churches.

I believe an important end game is being played out in the Anglican Churches. When it is over there will be Anglican Churches in conference that will have made the jump into modernity, and Anglican Churches in conference that will have avoided modernity like the plague. And there will be people in both sets of Churches who will find ways to get the work of the Gospel done with each other anyway. The future of evangelism will lie there, off in the post modern land where the Good News comes in ways unfamiliar to either group of Anglican Churches, but quite familiar to people who live beyond the edges of Christendom.


Of course we will all be paying attention to civil politics. But perhaps I can go to political blogs and catch up there and still find an Anglican blog or two that actually keeps up on the doings in our small camp.

Here in Anglican Blogland, let's try to keep in focus... just a bit.

8 comments:

  1. That's approximately why I chose to spend my Saturday night with Mae West - in the bowery.

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've been quietly enjoying your thoughts very much for some time now. Thanks for this one.

    The only thing that makes me chuckle a bit is how we are all tempted to speak in matter-of-fact terms about what Jesus was and what he wasn't...as if we actually know.

    Very good points, all.

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  3. I understand your frustration Mark, but remember that if we don't work hard, there will absolutely be no bread for the hungry.

    I am not aligned with Palin when she says that this is done through God. If that were the case, again, I would have to re-examine the God is Dead thinking.

    Can't go there.

    I still read both, but my focus, until after the election is politics.

    Sorry bout that, but that's just the way it is.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I heard in Mark's words that there is work to be done through the church. Certainly this is happening in local congregations. Also, ERD is there for that purpose as are many of the partnerships between dioceses that cross province borders. I understand it to be God's plan to work through the church.

    Diane

    ReplyDelete
  5. cany,

    If you were, perchance, to re-read "Christus Victor" by Gustav Aulen, you would probably understand why "God is dead", and, I suspect, be thankful.

    From here on, it's all up to us (together).

    blessings,

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Also, Jesus never applied for Roman government grants and never served in the Senate.
    Still, as an example of NGO passive-aggression, it's a winner!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for remembering our election as well, Mark.

    Several years ago, there were three Anglican priests who were members of the Canadian Parliament - all, as it happens, from the Diocese of Toronto.

    Reg Stackhouse was a member of the Progressive Conservative government caucus. Roland de Corneille was a member of the opposition Liberal Part and Dan Heap was a member of the social democratic New Democrats.

    One thing I always took from that little fable in real life was that Jesus tells us to feed the poor. He doesn't tell us how to set up the feeding the poor program. Christians can legitimately differ on whether the best solution to hunger is found in government programs, volunteer initiatives or the market.

    ReplyDelete
  8. " The future of evangelism will lie there, off in the post modern land where the Good News comes in ways unfamiliar to either group of Anglican Churches"

    Wow....now TEC people are giving advice on evangelism......did not realise church growth was a TEC specialism.....maybe those numbers from 815 are wrong and TEC is enjoying strong growth with its "new thing"?

    ReplyDelete

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