No Blogging Today

Sorry, folks. A crazy work schedule, a midterm this afternoon and a sick baby have conspired to deprive you of a blog post today. I’ll try extra hard to write something for you tomorrow. Ciao!

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Rick Santorum and the Language of Idolatry

Most days, I believe in the power of politics and the value of Christians participating in the political process to effect positive change that the churches or other religiously affiliated groups have been unable or unwilling to provide.

An example of this is the Affordable Care Act, i.e. Obamacare. When the law is fully in effect in 2014, it will have greatly expanded the ability of the nation’s poor and middle class to access life-saving health care. While I agree with Barron Jones that simply voting for whichever candidate promises to keep such welfare programs (broad definition of the term) in place does not perhaps allow me to say I’ve done much for “the least of these,” I firmly believe that Barack Obama, when he meets Jesus face to face, will be told, “Well done! You are a good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little. … Come, celebrate with me.”

Because by pushing and pushing and pushing for health-care reform, even though by the end of the ugly process, the bill was – and remains – a political liability, Obama did something real and effective for the needy in our country, something very few other Christians were doing – or even trying to do.

That’s when Christians engaging in politics works well, I feel.

When it works badly, I find myself sympathizing with Anabaptists and others who feel the process undermines and contradicts whatever good happens to result from it, and, worse, that it corrupts the faith and pushes Christians into making an idol of human effort and power.

That’s certainly how I usually feel after hearing Rick Santorum speak.

I don’t get into politics much here, and I don’t plan to start. But it is an election year, and I do follow politics pretty closely, so to the extent that the issues I normally discuss on the blog overlap with the news cycle of the 2012 elections, you might see a few more posts than usual. I apologize if that’s not your cup of tea.

Santorum is a conservative Catholic, who advocates a host of religiously based rules that would affect those who don’t share his religious convictions. That kind of moral legislation seems wrong-headed to me, as well as ineffective. What ruler has ever been effective converting an unwilling population to his or her moral agenda? That’s the key difference to me: Obama and Santorum are both Christians, and their faith informs their political leanings and priorities, but Obama’s convictions lead him to help others in need, Santorum’s lead him to a place of condemnation and judgment. They couldn’t end up in more different places despite starting in roughly the same place theologically.

Perhaps the strongest example of why Santorum makes me want to back away from the notion of Christians being involved in politics is that he would disagree with the last couple of sentences I just wrote.

Continue reading Rick Santorum and the Language of Idolatry

Hating Religion, Loving Jesus, Accepting Imperfection

You’ve likely seen Jeff Bethke’s YouTube video that juxtaposes Jesus and religion in a poem/rap. If somehow you’re not one of the nearly 20 million people to watch it, check it out above. Certainly it exploded across my Facebook feed this winter, and the reactions raised from undying adoration to dismissive antipathy.

I confess that after I watched it, I felt more of the latter than the former. My objection, like many others, centered on Bethke’s seemingly poor understanding and/or lazy use of the word “religion” and its cliched juxtaposition with Jesus. “Jesus came to abolish religion,” Bethke stated, and it’s the curse of the journalist-academician to want to correct the sentence to add: “some forms of”.

Continue reading Hating Religion, Loving Jesus, Accepting Imperfection