Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Obama Question

My biggest facination this political season has been listening to people (and particularly Christians) talk on why they will, or will not, be voting for Barak Obama.

Sometimes they mention his strong points, such as his ability to cast an articulate vision and his charasmatic persona, but often their first response is because of "George Bush", "the war", or "the Republicans". I'll be honest, I get nervous when we start electing presidents based, not on record and accomplishment, but as a reaction to something else.

One of my first political memories was of another time when the country was just extracting itself from an unpopular war and scandal was rife in the White House. It was during this time that a young governor from Georgia named Jimmy Carter burst on the scene. He was charming, sincere, and seemed to posess so many of the qualities the embattled Richard Nixon lacked. He was embraced by the Christian community by being the first president to publicaly proclaim of being "born again" and he rode a ground swell backlash all the way to the White House.

The problem?: He wasn't a particularly good president. His foreign policy left us neutered, his domestic policy left us broke, and his liberal social policies alienated the very Christians that once embraced him. My father, a life long labor Democrat to that point, voted for Carter the first time, and never voted Democrat again.

Let me just say, "I like Barak Obama" I think he is a genuine, sincere man who truly wants whats best for this country. (and I will say the same for John McCain). Its just that to much of this ground swell of popularism relys on him "not being George Bush" and thats not good enough for me.

Many Christians I know also worry me because their support for Obama seems to be a declaration of their independence from the Republican party rather than a conviction to vote Democrat. They remind me of the girl who jumps on the back of the bad boy's motorcycle, not because she's in love with the boy, but because she wants to show her parents she's her own person. Living in Boulder I met many people who were Buddhist. When I would talk with them, I realized (many times) their Buddhism stemmed not from an internal conviction of having reached some truth, but as a tool of self-expression, often to convey that they were NOT Christians.

I agree that the Christian community needs to disentangle itself from its complete devotion to the Republican Party, But voting for Obama seems (often) to be an expression about what you are against, rather than what you are for...and that makes me worry for this country.


bunabear said...

I see your point Steve and I even agree in part. I certainly am one who wishes we had more choices.

But this two party system is well in place and I don't know what can change it. So our choice to pick one over the other may not be as purely informed as it should be.

This morning my husband and I were talking about Sarah Palin, who as a Christian, seems to talk FOR God.

What about us Christians who want to talk ABOUT God?

I ask, because you know that so many lump us Christians all together. And dialogue is closed off.

Steve H. said...

Thanks for your comment bunabear. I think your question about talking about or for God is a good one.

The Bible says we (the church or Christians) are ambassadors of Christ. So by Biblical direction we are required to speak FOR God to the world. Probably, some of your frustration (and mine as well) comes from when we feel a particular "ambassador" is not conveying a message in a way their boss would approve. I didn't see the particular Sarah Palin comments you refer to so I can't comment on that.

BTW, I checked your profile (as a new blogger I'm interested in who is reading) and love your movie selections. The Station Agent (loved it) The Decalogue (Am a Kierslowski fan) and Shawshank Redemption. By only negative is that I'm still trying to get the 2 hours of my life back since watching Magnolia

LauraB said...

Love reading this open discussion. Personally I am unable to leave the Republican party as the Democrats continue with a pro-choice platform. That is a non-negotiable issue for me. However I am very disenchanted with the entire political system and feel one of the first ways we can clean up Washington would be to remove all of the lobbyists and allow our Senators and Congressmen to vote representing their states. I also wish there was a civil way to open dialogue between the parties to eliminate the gridlock we curently see. Our accomplishments are so limited because of politics and seem to be degenerating all of the time. After each election the "cooling off" time takes until the next election. In my lifetime I don't remember such division. Can't we find a way to get along?

bunabear said...

Hi Steve,

I am a fairly new blogger as well and my movie list is by no means complete. Thanks for your comments.

Regarding the idea that I believe Ms. Palin speaks for God; here is one example of something she said:

**"I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that."**

Maybe I am reading into this statement and she does qualify it with "I think" but the "God's will" part just baffles me.

Why does she think it is God's will? How does she know? Is the gas line God's will or the unifying of people and companies God's will?

Steve, I agree with you that we are Christ's hands and feet on this earth, but I still can't presume to speak for God, but only about God.

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