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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

by Shannon Glenn, Guest Blogger
https://lifeofaprodigal.wordpress.com/

In the Christian faith much is written about the power of words. In fact, the Bible mentions the power of life and death lies in the power of the tongue:

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Proverbs 18:21

For those who are not keeping up with American politics, we have just come through one of the most divisive and damaging Presidential campaigns in my lifetime, and perhaps in the history of our Country. I have watched, feeling helpless as my friends took sides. Both sides fancy themselves smarter and sure of the ignorance and short-sided vision of the other.  Both sides shout with proud sarcasm statements which uttered at other times would be considered libelous and slanderous. 

In this age of quick tweets shared with little thought before posting, statements intended to prove and disarm opposing arguments are falling on increasingly deaf and uncaring ears. Accusations of liar, thief, traitor, ignorant, and fool are thrown around as casually as comments about the ever-changing Tennessee weather.  These words are wielded like a sword to slice at the integrity and credibility of those in opposition.  While the intended victim may be wrapped in a cloak of self-righteousness and not feel the sting of rebuke, onlookers and bystanders certainly feel the sharp barbs.

Never have I seen people more marginalized and individual humanity being stripped away as people are lumped into groups of “those people.” Trump supporters and Biden supporters alike have wielded their swords of “truth”, not realizing they are for the most part only speaking into the echo chambers of like-minded friends.  Those who think differently are simply not listening as they too are locked in their own echo chambers of those who share their beliefs.

I did not realize how different the type of information we receive daily is until I spoke to a friend recently. During a conversation, I realized the information, rhetoric, and “truth” I had been spoon-fed is not the same information, rhetoric and “truth” in his feeds. It seems based on our past interests, upbringing and grouping of friends, his social media and internet feeds were vastly different. While I had been fed fear and distrust of everyone, his information was not the same. It became obvious he did not understand where my anxiety was coming from. In that moment it became all too clear that I, too, was in an echo chamber . . . one of the past.

Even though I try to find balanced reporting, and to stay away from the damaging half-truths and fear wielding statements, I may still be trapped in misinformation. It is clear my social media and internet feeds have been shaped around current and past interests. They are not varied enough to reach the whole story. It was an alarming and upsetting moment. I can only hypothesize the predictive algorithms are trying to decide for me exactly what I would like to see. However, these algorithms cannot predict the changes of the human heart and enlightenment as we learn and grow.  (While much has been and could be said about the dangers of social media, that is not the purpose of this discourse.) I am increasingly alarmed at how I have been unable to find the truth even as I search for it.

 We have all heard that the pen is mightier than the sword. I had always heard the second part of the quote, but in searching for a reference, I found the full quote:

“Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword.”

– Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Although I appreciate the sentiment behind the words, I do not believe it is necessarily true, as the pen is also mighty when under the rule of men not entirely great. This is not a political commentary; I am not educated enough to speak with authority on that score. However, I can speak from my heart, which I know very well. I live in Tennessee, a state known for our Volunteer spirit. However more recently Tennessee is known for something else, a Christmas Morning bombing.  As “facts” come out about the accused bomber, it is clear the current climate of hate and fear fed his paranoia and contributed to his need to act. I am heartbroken to realize that his trigger for making a bomb, possibly taking his life, and causing damage to both people and the communications infrastructure of our state was fear of technology, and the current toxic climate and likely an echo chamber of his own making.

Careless words thrown around by those who have their own agendas, which we do not fully know, cause real damage to those who hear them. Whether fueled by the anger of being so sure the other person is wrong, convinced with pride their leader is speaking “truth,” or tormented by fear stemming from this uncertain climate in our country, each word takes a toll. In this case it took at least one life and greatly affected so many.

While people are cocooned in their smug assurance of their righteous agendas, others are trembling and heartbroken in the state of our country and the potential for further violence. This man with great technical knowledge who is so overcome by his emotions and closely held beliefs felt he had to act. While he provided a warning to clear the area in an assumed effort to save lives, the next person compelled to act may not take such a precaution. I wholeheartedly believe the careless words of others are partially responsible for causing reactions in people that cannot be easily controlled. We know based on history how much blood can be shed in the name of faith or truth. We see evidence of this in the comment section of almost any news story on the internet.

I do not know how all this will play out, but I do know words have the power to heal or hurt and once spoken they cannot be taken back. Remember what you say affects not only your own life, but also the lives of those you hold dear, and, unfortunately in this time, of those you despise.

Have a care before you say it, type it or share it.

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by Jim Gordon

Here in the United States, things have seemed to be pretty weird this year. Just with the COVID-19 pandemic, a presidential election and all the strange events with demonstrations, hurricanes, forest fires and such, it really makes a person wonder what is happening. I have to say, what we see going on in the world and especially in the USA is quite disturbing.

Many people like to blame politicians and political parties, a president, police, militant groups and many other reasons. I am not sure any one person or group can be blamed for everything, yet I personally do not put any faith or trust into any politician or political party. I do not think any of them are the answer.

It makes me angry that here in the US, so many people would rather focus on a politician or political party and fight and argue, even ruining friendships and separating families over people who do not even know or care about us. Politics will never be the answer for the world’s problems. I believe if we would stop putting our entire hope and trust in any political party or politician, things would be better. Politicians do not care for the people. They say they do, but they really only care for their party and their interest in gaining power and money.

I do believe if we human beings could look past the labels and differences of opinions and work together, care for one another and look for what would be the best for everyone, things would improve.

Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world. Jesus was more concerned in the heavenly kingdom of God than he was in any political party or kingdom of this world. We would be so much better off if we could do the same.

Nothing wrong with being actively trying to improve your country through political action. Yet to put your complete hope and confidence in a political party is futile.

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by Jim Gordon

I am not much into politics and I certainly do not put much hope or trust in politicians. I very seldom make political statements since I feel politics is a personal thing. Who you vote for or if you vote at all is up to each individual, so this will be one of very few statements I will make on politics and it will not be an endorsement for any candidate.

First off, whether you vote party lines, independent or third-party is entirely a personal choice. Whether you vote at all is a personal choice. I understand the concept that as christians we live in the Kingdom of God and we trust God as our head and pledge no allegiance to man. Yet living in this world many believe in the political process and they vote for those they feel is best to lead the country. I believe in praying for our leaders and trying to get the best people into office for the good of the country no matter which party they belong too.

Either way we look at this, the one thing that really bothers me is seeing christian people, especially those in leadership positions such as pastors, evangelists, elders and such making comments such as “if you are a christian you cannot support this person or party”, or, “if you were a real christian you would not be voting for that candidate or that party”.

I understand pastors and leaders giving their personal opinions about who they like as a candidate, we all do that, but that should be done on a more personal and private basis. I think to tell people who to vote for, and to say you are or are not a christian based on who you vote for is crossing the line and is just plain wrong.

I think most people are smart enough to listen, read and decide for themselves who they want to support. Most people want the best for our country and they really believe they are voting for the person who will do the best job.

I personally think that christians, especially those such as pastors and leaders who make these type statements should keep their views to themselves. We all should have the right to vote for the person we feel is best, and to do so without someone trying to put a guilt trip on us for having a different view, and especially when it comes to our christianity.

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by Jim Gordon

Many people wonder if Christianity and politics can actually exist together. It seems that Jesus really had no real interest in the political system of his day, yet he also did not condemn it. He said to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.

In our day and age politics can be a powerful thing and many people find it extremely important. No matter what country you live in it is controlled by a political party in one way or another. Many countries, like the United States participate in free elections and others are under more of a dictatorship. Either way, we humans are all under some type of political influence and control.

I find that coming from a Christian viewpoint it seems many Christian people in the United States feel that if you are a Christian you have to be a republican. Personally, the way I feel about politics I really do not care which political party a person belongs too. Unfortunately, I really do not see much of the ways of Jesus in either of our main political parties. It seems politicians are more concerned on political power and financial gain rather than on serving the people and making things better for all.

When I vote, I try to vote for the person I feel will do that best job for the most people and I do not worry which political party they belong too. I know there are many politicians who are of the Christian faith, yet there are also many who only use Christianity to get more votes.

Truthfully, being a Christian has nothing to do with a political party. Those of us who are followers of Christ live every day by our faith which involves every aspect of living. Our faith in God is not a Sunday only thing or a political thing. Many people seem to think they have a spiritual life on Sunday and a secular and political life the rest of the week. Yet the truth is we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we walk with the Spirit of God each and every day. Everything we do can be considered spiritual because God is within us all the time.

Many people seem to think we can use political power to force our Christian values on everyone. I for one do not believe we should or can legislate Christian values and morality on anyone. God does not force his love and ways on us, so why should we try to force our values and beliefs on others. Only by the power of the Spirit living within us can righteous living and loving others be accomplished.

Jesus was obviously more interested in speaking of and teaching about the kingdom he was a part of, the Kingdom of Heaven. He was not nearly as worried or concerned about worldly kingdoms or political powers.

I would love to see people stop bringing Christianity down to a political purpose. Focus on Christ and loving others no matter which political party they endorse, if any. Politics is not the answer and is not worth all the fighting and arguing over. Loving God and loving one another is a much more important and meaningful way of life.

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by Jim Gordon

This article is written to those of us who live in the USA. Here in the United States it is a time in history when things seem to get pretty weird. Currently we are in a presidential election year and that can cause a lot of chaos in itself. Then we have a lot of other important issues going on that just makes things a little crazy.

Things can certainly get strange. It seems politics (and money) can make people do things and say things they normally would not do and say.

For me, politics is not an interest. I feel it is a divider and causes disagreements and many times can cause the loss of friendships. It usually does not bring people together other than those who are in favor of the same politician or party.

One important thing we need to remember is that no one person and no one political party will be the answer to all our problems. We all have our opinions and views and we are all entitled to have them and express them. The problem is when we cannot accept opinions and views that are different from ours.

Thinking back to the tragedy of 9/11, and I would never want something like that to happen again but right after that happened, I can remember the unity that was felt here in the USA. People seemed to forget their differences and they united under a common cause. If we could only unite together as fellow human beings and not put so much importance on our different political views, what a difference there would be in our country.

There are certainly many issues going on and many issues that need to be dealt with and changed. I believe that not much will happen until we can unite in the fact that we are all human beings who want the best for our country, our families and ourselves. Though we will never all agree, we need to strive to work together in a way that will cause change where needed and bring people together to work for the good of all.

Fighting over which politician or which political party is best and will do the best job is not going to bring the unity we need to make the necessary changes. No politician is going to fight for the people without us, the people holding them accountable. They will fight for what is best for them and what is best for their party, but we need to work together to force them to do what is best for us, the people of the United States of America.

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by Jordan Hathcock

To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely – to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can give you and no empire can take away.—Dr. Cornel West

How are we (I.e., American “Christians”) supposed to *act* in our current climate where the pandemic reigns, systemic racism runs rapid and the economic state is at its worse sense the Great Depression. 2020 has been a mix of 1918, 1930s, and 1960s all wrapped up in one “apocalyptic” year and it seems to be no end in sight. The unveiling of the principalities and powers (corrupt institutions) are now in the forefront for all citizens to witness. The term “viewer discretion advise” has never been more relevant.

We are hearing from both world views (conservative and liberal) advice and warnings in what the “right” strategy is when it comes to the current world crises. The polarization has come to a boiling point and you better take cover! Masks vs. no masks, black lives matter vs. all lives matter, all coming to a dualistic head, about to explode. The American political landscape has been experiencing a tug of war (no pun attended) regarding ideals which in-turn is hindering an actual plan of action. Thus, we have the never-ending cycle of us vs. them that only brings violent unrest.

This is not a denial of the actual current damaged systemic realities (white supremacy, racism, pandemic health crisis, police brutality, etc.) that this country is experiencing. I understand that some are living in denial of these issues (and it is not getting us anywhere). Alas, what I am trying to manifest is Christ-participants response to all of this? It cannot only be a conservative view of just letting the old ways be preserved no matter how many lives are harmed and oppressed along the way. It also cannot be a regulated liberal view, espousing a non-stop shame culture in where people are ostracized and scapegoated, no matter what the price. Is this American binary platform, in which we have two sides to choose from, all there is? The issues with our two-party system, plurality voting rules, winner take all voting, gerrymandering, (to name a few) is not helping when it comes to a more just (love in action) social system.

When leave social restorative justice (it cannot be an eye for eye kind of justice here, peeps) in the hands of the elite, what we get is an Empire. If we are living in the 21st century United States, we are living in an Empire (bold statement I know but stay with me). There are a few interpretations of Empire (hey, is post modernity baby haha), but I find this one fitting when it comes to defining Empire with our current state in Murica:

Conglomerates of power that are aimed at controlling all aspects of our lives, from macropolitics to our innermost desires.― Joerg Rieger, Christ and Empire

What does Empire involve? All types of “power over” institutions from education, to government and religion. When our systems become an economy of exchange where the mighty dollar reigns, the result is imprisonment. From a Christ-participant perspective, what we have seen since the fourth century is Civil Religion: the Christendom of Empire, reigning down with an oligarchy thumb. Since that time, the supposedly Jesus Community has been entangled with the State. This might be the deadliest mixture when it comes to corrupt power. Christians have become the Roman occupiers―plundering and destroying all that gets in their way―instead of Jesus followers being eaten by lions and burned at the stake. When we became more about geo-political dominance and less about serving “the least of these”, the distinction between the Jesus-Way and Empire are unrecognizable. Palestinian Christian, author, and Lutheran pastor Mitri Raheb puts it this way:

Empires create their own theologies to justify their occupation. [Just as the early American empires chose to overlook its mistreatment of the Native tribes who already lived here and then justified a slave holder form of Christianity in much of the Americas. —RR] Such oppression generates a number of important questions among the occupied: “Where are you, God?” and “Why doesn’t God interfere to rescue [God’s] people?” When, under various regimes, diverse identities emerge in different parts of Palestine, the question arises, “Who is my neighbor?” And finally, “How can liberation be achieved?” is a constant question.

I think this is what we have in our current state of affairs. Are we (I.e., White American Christians) as claimed participants in the Jesus way, going to see ourselves as the Roman occupiers? Are we finally go to repent (change our way of thinking) and really set out to be a people who wash feet, serve the poor, and set the captives free? That is it, really. Breaking free to liberate others. This is what privilege is all about. We cannot let the ways of Empire cloud our minds with this “America first” attitude. Its movements that change things, not rusted-out institutions. It is power under not power over that brings about resurrection (Jesus on the cross, anyone?).  So, regardless if you see masks as not needed, or black lives as a neo-Marxist communist organization, what do you do for the least of these? For your enemies?

I think it’s time that we truly see that “our citizenship is in heaven- Philippians 3:20 “ which includes “every nation, tribe, people and language-Revelation 7:9”. It’s time to let go of our egos and be humbled. We need to listen and educate ourselves through and by the voices of the marginalized in order to bring about the liberation and healing that sets all of God’s creation free…

Only the oppressed can receive liberating visions in wretched places. Only those thinking emerges in the context of the struggle against injustice can see God’s freedom breaking into unfree conditions and thus granting power to the powerless to fight here and now for the freedom they know to be theirs in Jesus’ cross and resurrection.― James H. Cone, God of the Oppressed

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by Mike Edwards

The political divide in our nation is obvious, but shouldn’t people who claim to follow Jesus’ teachings get along? Yes, plenty of people are leaving the institutional church but they aren’t leaving God. It is hard to make a big impact in the world alone. A movement though can! Why isn’t a Following who claims the importance of loving others as themselves having more of an impact on our culture?

It is human nature to not always get along.

The wife and I got along pretty well when dating, but that didn’t exactly prepare me for the first years of marriage. Love doesn’t make go away having to share bathrooms, finances, closets, in-laws, etc. I didn’t learn soon enough that love requires learning to disagree well so to live happily incompatible. You got to learn some skills as differences arise. But Christian divisions run deeper than nature.

One’s belief if the Bible is inspired by God may be the greatest divider among Christians.

Some believe God inspired all of the Bible thus is God’s final word on guidance; others believe the Spirit may guide us toward even a higher view of God than the writers always had. One can still be a God-follower though their view of the Bible is different than yours. Besides, literature requires interpretation whether you believe God inspired all of the Bible or not. More churches are forming than uniting because of differences in interpretations and no one is admitting they may be wrong. Christian opinions can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving way.

Can we get along despite a helluva lot of differences?

It has been suggested despite the challenges of translation and interpretation the central message of the Bible is clear to all. I respectfully disagree. One’s belief about Hell supposedly impacts everyone born into this world. Views on women’s roles impacts half the population. Gay differences impact millions and millions of people. Can I get along with one who is convinced God condemns gays for attractions they can’t control? I may never know because we are quick to demonize one another when we don’t share the same convictions.

What first steps can we take to show true love?

We each have to decide what is the first big step we can take in our relationships. As my beliefs were forming and changing over the decades, I wasn’t always respectful in sharing my passions. If I had it all to do over, I would have sought to understand first before being understood. This is the best way for relationships to not end up demonizing one another. Standing side by side may in time allow one to be persuaded for the right reasons. Christians acting loving toward one another could change the world!

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by Jim Gordon

We often talk about being like Jesus, or living a Christ-like life. What does that really entail?

My first thought is being like Jesus does not necessarily mean imitating Jesus. I think that is something that is close but a little different. Imitating, according to the dictionary means to mimic; impersonate; to make a copy of; to have or assume the appearance of. Some of this can be understood to be good, but I feel it takes away from our own identity and the way we were made as individuals.

I do not think being Christ-like means we are going to do everything we read in the gospels just like Jesus. It may mean we do things that are not popular or accepted by everyone, but we do them as the Spirit leads us, not because we are imitating exactly what Jesus did.

Most of us probably will not go to a Jewish synagogue and overturn tables. We may not walk all over the country healing people and raising the dead. We may never face being stoned and we may not have to deal directly with the spiritual or political leaders of our day.

What it might mean is, some of us may leave the church system because it is man-controlled with its doctrines and various interpretations of the bible. This will cause us to walk in the wilderness outside the walls of religion. It may mean being shunned by those still within the system. Yet we still have the Spirit living within us and who will never leave us.

Some of us may disassociate ourselves from politics. In the U.S.A. many people think being christian means being republican. Jesus did not seem to associate himself with any political party of his time. He respected them by saying give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. Yet, Jesus goals and purposes were far beyond anything political.

Some may join an LGBTQ organization to show support, or work with race, gender or nationality relations. It may mean participating with and helping people that others would rather ignore. We want to help provide understanding and acceptance among people no matter what label they wear. Doing so may be misunderstood by others and may cause us to be cut off from friends or family who see things differently.

No matter how the Spirit leads us, I believe being like Jesus will be going about the Father’s business. That is to show love and not judgment and condemnation. It is encouraging, loving, building up and accepting people just as they are. Jesus came to our world to show us that God is not a God of hate, condemnation, murder and exclusiveness. God is love and a god of acceptance, inclusiveness and a god that walks side by side with us through everything we go through in this world.

We are all different. We each have our own personality, interests and special ways of living life. I think being like Jesus will be different as God works in the uniqueness of us. Being like Jesus will be different things to different people, but it will all be done by following the Spirit of Christ from within us. It will be a life of love for God and love for people each and every day.

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I am not much into politics and I certainly do not much hope or trust in politicians. I very seldom make political statements since I feel politics is a personal thing. Who you vote for or if you vote at all is up to each individual. So this will be one of very few statements I will make on politics and it will not be an endorsement for any candidate.

I also realize that not everyone who reads my articles are from the USA or is of the christian faith. So bear with me since this will be from an American and christian perspective.

First off, whether you vote party lines, independent or third-party is entirely a personal choice. Whether you vote at all is a personal choice. I understand the concept that as christians we live in the Kingdom of God and we trust God as our head and pledge no allegiance to man. Yet living in this world many believe in the political process and they vote for those they feel is best to lead the country. I believe in praying for our leaders and trying to get the best people into office for the good of the country.

voting

Either way we look at this, the one thing that really bothers me is seeing christian people and especially those in leadership positions such as pastors, evangelists, elders and such making comments such as “if you are a christian why are you supporting this person”, or, “if you were a real christian you would not be voting for that candidate”.

I understand pastors and leaders giving their personal opinions about who they like as a candidate, we all do that, but that should be done on a more personal and private basis. I think to tell people you are or are not a christian based on who you vote for is just not right.

I think most people are smart enough to listen, read and decide for themselves who they want to support. Most people want the best for our country and they really believe they are voting for the person who will do the best job.

I personally think that christians, especially those such as pastors and leaders who make these type statements should keep their views to themselves. We all should have the right to vote for the person we feel is best, and to do so without someone trying to put a guilt trip on us for having a different view, especially when it comes to our christianity.

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Don’t jump on me to fast, read the rest of the post.

This really is a terrible question but I find that coming from a Christian viewpoint it seems many Christian people in the United States feel that if you are a Christian you have to be a republican. Personally the way I feel about politics I would come closer to asking are you a Christian or a politician? Now I am only joking. I know there are many politicians who are of the Christian faith, yet I know many use Christianity just to get more votes.

flag-and-cross

Truthfully being a Christian has nothing to do with a political party. Those of us who are followers of Christ live every day the same and our faith involves every aspect of living. Our faith in God is not a Sunday only thing. Many people seem to think they have a spiritual life on Sunday and a secular life the rest of the week. Yet the truth is we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we walk with the Spirit of God each and every day. Everything we do can be considered spiritual because God is with us all the time.

We also seem to think we can use political power to force our Christian values on everyone. I for one do not believe we should or can legislate Christian values and morality on anyone. Only by the power of the Spirit within us can righteous living and loving others be possible.

I would love to see people stop bringing Christianity down to a political stance. Focus on Christ and loving others no matter which political party they endorse, if any.

Read Full Post »

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