Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Political Selectivity

I am not sure why I am going back here, but something in me will not let me move on:

I have recently written on those within the Quaker blogging world who have endorsed Obama, and they have done so with good reason. And often, in the world of politics, the (relatively) new Christian voice is bemoaning the single-issue approach that often endorses the candidates who place abortion and homosexual marriage near the center of their platform. The new voices I am hearing are beseeching others to look past those single issues and focus on a broader understanding of life. In this vein, the most vocal are asking why war should not be as or even more important than abortion. There are lives being lost in war, just as there are lives being lost in abortion. The emphasis, then, is placed on a candidate who will in turn have a more holistic view of justice, environmentalism, and certain family values. Hear me here: these are good things, things I am too passionate about.

But it seems to me that one issue is being traded for another, and what ends up being critiqued as single-issue voting is traded for, in essence, single-issue voting. If one is truly pro-life, you have to be against both abortion and war. This is where the difficulty lies for me: if I endorse Obama because of his stance on issues like war, poverty, health care, and the environment, I am choosing to neglect others issues on which he stands opposed to my moral belief.

For instance: John Caputo, in What Would Jesus Deconstruct, believes that if one truly follows Jesus, pacifism is the only way to go. But in the current state of life, it is impossible. So he advocates an approach to war (and I assume to other ethical dilemmas) that he calls the “lesser evil.” But if I pursue political issues as one being a lesser evil than the other, I am fragmenting what I truly believe about life. For instance, if I say that at this moment in our nations history war and abortion are both stealing lives unfairly, and I view both of them as equal evils, which it seems to me they are, then how can I support someone who views one as a greater evil than the other? Are they not both related to saving lives? To upholding a healthy, Christ-centered view of humanity?

This is what I mean by political selectivity. Can we as Christian focus on issues to the exclusion of others, especially when they have to do with the same fundamental issue? I can see my friends commenting again on how issues like these are the reasons they do not vote any longer, but since I am not at that point, how can I pursue political issues as a Christian without exhibiting some type of political selectivity, whether it be the selectivity of the right or the selectivity of the left? Because both sides are, in the end, selective.

Does it really come down to selecting the lesser evil? I hope not, but I am, at this point, unsure.

Advertisements

A Response to Pacifism Comments

My most recent post has drawn a lot of interest, lengthy comments, and thoughtful interaction with the issue of pacifism. It has been a delight to read your thoughts and to continue to wrestle with the issue. I did want to provide some feedback to a few of the comments, which is what follows (my comments are in bold):

Rich Accetta-Evans wrote:

Even before that, when military service was not an issue but violence was, Fox had chosen to respond to violent abuse with what we would call non-violence. I don’t have the exact quotation handy, but I recall one occasion on which he was being man-handled and turned to offer himself as a target for more blows, saying “here’s Gospel for you”, a reference to Christ’s teaching about answering evil with good.

I really like this quote, Rich. It has been fun to imagine Fox uttering this line in the face of oppression for his beliefs, and I can clearly see the conviction with which he would have uttered the line. I can clearly see how Fox used love for Christ and love for others to infiltrate everything he did and said, one of the reasons I look to him as a spiritual hero.

Will T

It is not surprising that this was a process the early Friends were making it all up as they went along. It took a while to work out all of the implications of Quakerism for daily life and it was mostly a process of seeing what God required at any given moment.

Will T, my main issue with this is that it makes the earliest forms of Quaker belief/action as reactionary and not as a life lived with firm conviction based on what the Holy Spirit was doing in their midst as individuals but also as a community gathered in Christ.

Thy Friend John

God forbid that the Quakers should make a doctrine out of pacifism! But I believe that the living Christ made a doctrine out of pacifism, and gave it to us Quakers.

Thy Friend John, this is exactly why I wrote the post originally. Doctrinal positions have historically been avoided among Quakers, and yet you insinuate it was preposterous for me make such a comment. In the same way, it seems to me the closest Christ ever came to creating “doctrine” was in the Sermon on the Mount.

kevin roberts

Does it matter whether an issue like this conforms to a modern political orthodoxy?

Kevin, thanks for your comment. I guess for me it matters because there is correlation between someone’ s faith values and the expression of those in the public sphere. So a pacifist belief, while it should not conform to modern political orthodoxy, still highly influences modern political “praxis,” at least among fellow Quakers.

Thank you all, for the time you have spent in your lives considering this issue, and your desire to share it with others. May the Lord continue to bring you peace and the rest of the world peace.

Willard, part 1

This afternoon was the first of two speaking sessions Dallas is participating in this week. The first talk was a “fireside” chat with Dr. Stan Gaede, in which Stan asked questions about the current state of evangelicalism. The talk was very interesting, and I think one of the most intriguing parts of the conversation came when Stan asked Dallas about the emerging church movement. Dallas initially answered that the term “emergent” is a misnomer because the church already emerged 2000 years ago. Though the quip was humorous, and seemed to resonate with quite a few folks in the audience, I don’t think Dallas meant to disparage the movement. But, he did offer words of wisdom in regards to the new movement that I think are worth sharing. Continue reading

Dallas Willard comes to Gordon

Dallas is coming to Gordon this week. I am stoked. I value the work Willard is doing on spiritual formation and think it is very insightful and a bit abrasive. He has essentially moved away from a Freudian understanding of id, ego, and superego, and in its place provided a more integrative and holistic approach to understanding the essence of a person (adapted from Husserl).  Continue reading

Dancing Together

I just finished It’s a Dance by Patrick Oden yesterday, and loved it. Oden uses narrative theology to begin a conversation on the emerging church’s view of the Holy Spirit. It is fresh in its approach, deep in its theology, and very readable.

The book builds nicely from chapter to chapter, and as someone interested in Church history, I love how it ends with a section from Tertullian’s writings. Doing so provides a link from the early church to the new(ish) emerging movement. Continue reading

Myth or Fact?

I had the pleasure recently of reviewing Greg Boyd’s Myth of a Christian Nation at Barclay Press (read it here). The book is, in my opinion, a much needed read as elections are fast approaching – though it has not been received well by many (read here).  Whether or not you agree with his basic argument, you can join me and others in a discussion with Greg Boyd at Barclay Press. Please consider reading the book and joining us!

Mentoring

Sometimes there are certain themes in life with which we are continually pounded. I often try to dwell on those poundings, though they are sometimes painful, because I am certain they appear as nudges from the Spirit. The theme for me recently: mentoring. Working at a college in different capacities has found me often in mentoring relationships – mentoring students and being mentored by faculty/administrators. While I always look forward to being mentored, because I love soaking up wisdom from those who have gone before, I too often struggle to know where to go when mentoring others. But this past week Erin really challenged my insecurities, and a good friend told me to trust that the Lord is using me, even when it feels like that is not the case. And so today I met with a student whom I mentor, and then met with my mentor. What great experiences these both were, though completely different in what they entailed. I am thankful for what the Lord is doing in my life, though it is not easy! I am convinced, though, that part of living in Christian community is being in these types of relationships where you are pressed to be transparent, honest, and to dwell with one another in the “space between.”



Quaker Sacraments

It seems as though a general theme is occurring in the lives of a few Quaker folk. After reading Gregg Koskella’s blog this morning about the theme of his sermon this week, and this blog about new definitions of “church,” I thought I would share a bit of my own sacramental adventures in a non-Quaker church. Erin and I have been living in the Boston area for nearly 7 years now, and for the past 3 years we have been regularly attending a Christ-centered Episcopal church. I grew up Quaker, Erin Episcopalian… Continue reading

Adventurous Life

A friend of mine sent along this quote last night: “The adventure of the Christian life begins when we dare to do what we would never tackle without Christ.” (William Penn) It is especially poignant because the school where we work has recently unveiled a new campaign slogan, which to me is too postmodern and/or relativisitic: “Your Adventurous Life”. What has continually bothered me about the phrase is that it excludes any sense of communal experience. Are we selling an independent experience, or properly demonstrating that formation (educational, spiritual, emotional) is best done in community? By our marketing material, I am not so sure. But, seen through the lens of this quote, I admit I am more excited about the possibilities. Now, we just need to somehow experience adventure together… “You Adventurous Life Lived In Community.” Yeah, it just doesn’t work…

Start with Questions

Greetings! I am glad you are here. I write in order to process, and I desire to process in community, hence I am inviting you to join me in this process. As you can see, this blog is an exploration of faith in relation to what has become a postmodern world. How do we navigate the postmodern matrix as Christians? How do we live as disciples of Christ today and into tomorrow? These are questions I wrestle with daily, and ask not for answers, but to ensure that I am remaining in the process of exploration. So come, explore with me. I trust together as we seek truth, truth will be revealed.