Because life is a series of edits

Got Time for a Story?

In Politics on July 3, 2007 at 12:03 am

We had a great start yesterday to our political “interview” (that’s how I’m thinking of it, anyway). Thanks to each of you who responded, as well as to all of you who gave some link love. The comments are still open, so feel free to continue any discussion you like.

I’d like to make a few more inquiries over the course of this week, following up today on the theme of discontentment so prevalently mentioned in many posts yesterday. Specifically:

  • Do you remember a time when you didn’t feel disenfranchised by or cynical regarding our current democratic political system/process? What was different?
  • What changed in your political understanding and when? Who influenced you the most in the midst of this transition and how?

Brief (paragraph or two) stories summarizing your experience(s) would be great. Use discretion with names, but give us enough specificity to understand where you’re coming from, especially if/how it involves the PCA.

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  1. (sorry if this is too long)

    Growing up in a politically active Christian and Republican home when republicans were a minority gave me a sense of hope. “If only we could get our people in office,” I would think, “all America’s serious problems would be solved and we’d all be rich and happy.” I remember listening to Rush on the regular basis. I felt a type of comradery with him. I would chuckle every time he said “with half my brain tied behind my back.” When we stopped for gas at a station, I would buy Snapple tea.

    I stopped caring about politics once I got to college. Not because I felt disenfranchised or anything like that but because I was rather more interested in girls, friends, and theology – in that order. By my senior year, once I had claimed a beauty and tied the knot, I began thinking again about politics – specifically about the intersections of politics with theology, economics, and the built environment. I believe it was Schaeffer who first taught me that salvation was for the whole man, not just his soul. If this was really true, I thought, then the community and social structures in which man lives and breathes must also be redeemed.

    The more I thought about what politics should be concerned with and how it should be organized to accomplish my imagined goals for it the more I felt a sense of disillusionment and loss of faith in the system. No longer were the republicans the “good guys.” History had shown that what little wise and just rhetoric they said was rarely acted upon once they were handed the power. The democrats, on the other hand were, seemingly, more concerned about social justice, political corruption through money, and other such issues I was beginning to see as primary issues that needed to be address. History, likewise, told a different story than the rhetoric, it seemed.

    So I was stuck. Neither party could be my savior.

    And then I walked into a local church, located in the heart of the city in which I went to school, and found a small group of lovely elderly people caring for the poor in the city, feeding them their wonderful home cooking, helping them in whatever way they were able. Here, I thought, was a political body that did not consist of empty rhetoric. Here was love of man and love of God.

  2. I don’t think my political views have changed much, but I’ve gotten very frustrated over the last… oh, fifteen years with the system’s failure to respond to the people. Sure, the majority may be wrong, but that doesn’t mean the Powers That Be (hereafter PTB) have the right to set up a tyranny of the minority, either. And if I successfully vote the person I want into office but too many of the people I didn’t want from places where I couldn’t vote also come to power, what do I do?
    Actually, I’m not sure the system’s busted. People are. :P
    I don’t think I could name a specific influence in this regard. I dig the New Media, but it’s usually because the people I read/listen to have reached the same conclusions about current events that I reached on my own. And I have to walk away from some of them from time to time when they get hung up on things I don’t care about or disagree with.

  3. craig, i just don’t care, i care about you so i’ve put some thought into it, but i guess i feel like i can’t make a difference with politics so why bother my time thinking about it, my uncle has worked in politics in D.C. for a long time and i don’t see him making any real difference either, i aligned myself with Republicans because of my uncle and moral issues but…, blah, blah, blah, i really don’t care, i care about the local church and want to work to see it make a difference in the community and the nation but that fits with my postmodern idea of grass roots as the way to go and mistrust of bigger organizations, be it government, denominations, corporations etc. … enjoy the work on your article, do they pay you for that? i hope they do

  4. Female, 30-ish, married, 3 kids…
    My father escaped a communist government at the age of 10 – he came here legally, was naturalized, and chose to embrace American culture, politics, religion, and language. Today, he longs for his homeland and can’t wait until the current regime is no longer in power. He raised me to be a Republican.

    My maternal grandfather was kicked out of his own homeland by the US government, and was forced to abandon his language and culture, and yet he raised his family to love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, and honor the king. Incidentally, my mother’s people tell me to be a Democrat.

    I was taught at my Christian High school that good Christians vote Republican. My husband’s deep south grandmother taught me that good Southerners vote Democrat. At law school I was taught that good lawyers vote Democrat. My church (coc) taught me that discussing politics is just as great a sin as discussing s-e-x.

    I’ve read an old adage that says we should live like Democrats but vote like Republicans. What in the world does that mean in today’s society?

    Although I personally registered as a Republican, I have voted both ways, and am currently appalled at the choices we have been presented with for our future leader. I’ll vote, but for who, I do not yet know.

    I can’t wait to read your article. Good luck.

  5. Oh, why why do I feel the need to clarify, but I do: my father is Caucasian from Cuba, and my mother is Choctaw. So there! :-)

  6. The last time I didn’t feel cynical toward the American politic and disenfranchised by the church in regard to the political realm (for the two unfortunately go hand-in-hand) was as I was leaving high school. Up until that point, I bought into the system and the primacy of the Religious Right. As I entered the workplace, the change began to come on gradually. I was no longer merely feeding off what I was told but absorbing information (in large quantities) on my own.

    At first my cynicism was directed toward the Republican Party, as I saw that it very little resembled my Christian beliefs and in many ways was stood antithetical to the Christianity I saw represented in Scripture. I felt betrayed by those in the church from whom I learned that the Republican way coincided with the Christian way, but I still held hope for political good. For a few years anyway. I dabbled in supporting a variety of forms of socially conscious libertarianism (or classical liberalism) and voted in ways appropriate to my newfound political hope.

    By the end of my twenties, however, political interests had nearly entirely lost their sheen for me. I recognized that political movements were powerful in what they could accomplish but I did not see myself in any movement that was actually accomplishing anything. I also saw a degree of unhealthy mania in those who looked to political solutions for their hope in this world. Otherwise stable people would become apoplectic at the merest mention of the opposition party’s candidate. It seemed like madness to me.

    And madness with precious little fruit to show for it. For every good that a movement accomplished, it also ushered in ill. For every tyrant’s regime that was crushed tens or hundreds of thousands of civilians lay dead for the sake of another man’s democracy. For every trade success, some got richer while others suffered (the poor in one country or another).

    There are too many questions that have no pat or adequate answers. Illegal immigration hurts the livelihoods of the weak in our nation, but the prevention of it hurts those in other nations. How can I be asked to decide an issue that I cannot understand? How is it responsible for me to judge these things if I don’t have adequate information with which to render judgment? I work full-time, have a family, work on projects in the evenings, and minister to my local body. I am a responsible member of my community – which shows by the fact that I don’t have the time to research these political questions.

    That the church (sometimes officially, most times unofficially) expected to dictate to me the answer to all these abstract questions of political theory angered me. It discouraged me that those who were meant to show me the heavenly kingdom were trying to get me to help them take over the earthly. I see no impetus for that in Scripture (though I see plenty of it in church history).

    So to quickly answer your first question: The between when I wasn’t cynical and now is simply that I was naive then and am less so now.

    As for who influenced this change in me? I don’t think I can attribute it to anything greater than the fact that I was studying everyday. Both Scripture and secular concerns. As my comprehension of the biblical record grew, I noted the it fit less and less the life and system to which I had accustomed myself. Rather than change what Scripture meant by ignoring it, I allowed Scripture to change me. I am, quite obviously, not wholly a work of Scripture and the work of Christ in me, but I am enough changed that I could not accept my beliefs as they were.

  7. I used to be pretty politically optimistic — I thought the world was progressing and that people were becoming more and more in control of their own lives (rather than being controlled by others). I’m not totally cynical now — but I am disillusioned about how our system works.

    The changed happened as I realized how power works, who has it and how it is being used. I realized that those with power have an advantage and they use that advantage to gain more power. It is true, the rich become richer. I used to think this was a good thing — all my Evangelical and Reformed Church elders and people I looked up to taught me that wealth is a gift for doing a good job. In a sense, God rewards us for our hard work. Then I realized that this isn’t true. I met too many people who work very, very hard and have very, very little. My perspective on these issues changed as I allowed myself to listen to what the opponents of capitalism had to say. Capitalism breeds a sort of hardness and coldness toward those who are suffereing. I think it is based on the belief that we get what we deserve, we reap what we sow — a sort of Christian Economic Karma. Well, once I realized the way economic thoeries have real world consequences I became sad and dishearted. Mostly sad about the way the Church has given so much support to this way of thinking and living.

    But I don’t think things have to be this way. I believe that it is possible for the Church to distance itself from earthly power and to focus on the gospel. It will be a hard fight and it might never be a sucess — but small changes might happen, and for those little changes I think it is worth the effot.

  8. I am not an American, but I truly can’t comprehend, how can US true Christian even consider voting Democrats!?! Does that mean that the Rep. are perfect? Of course not, but … …

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