Oct 6, 2008

Politics and Radical Inclusion

I've been trying to gather my thoughts on all these issues into one coherent post with logical flow, but I've given up. Here are my thoughts; I just want to get them posted.

A friend of my sister's said, "Wow, Maria's blog is getting pretty political." If only she saw some of the other blogs out there...! But in all fairness, this post and this post I did on Palin weren't exactly moderate in nature. (Although this post about Obama and McCain had a much more conciliatory tone.) This is the first election cycle here I've been more than a casual observer and participant. (Ok, I'm still a casual participant, but I'm observing much more intentionally.) And I'm trying to figure out how to hold opinions thoughtfully and strongly while holding more tightly to the people whom I love and respect, and to the character of Christ which we try to cultivate in our community.
At our fellowship time last Sunday, our friend Will led us in a discussion of politics. What do we think of politics? How does the process make us feel? How does our participation in the body of Christ affect (and effect) our political involvement? One text we discussed was Matthew 18, and how Jesus' instruction to treat those who sin against us "as Gentiles and tax collectors" is actually a call for radical inclusion (since Jesus tended to hang out with Gentiles and tax collectors). I wondered how such radical inclusion would shape the manner and content of our increasingly polarized political discourse. Can we have close friends and family who vote differently? How do we relate to someone who believes passionately about something with which we disagree? What hope is there for us to journey together towards our common goals?

A good friend of mine, who's a lifelong and rabid (er, devoted) fan of the University of Georgia, said something which struck me as quite insightful. "So many people," he commented, "seem to be Democrats or Republicans the same way that I'm a Dawgs fan." It's a great analogy, startling in its clarity and evocation of an almost blind devotion to a certain allegiance. While this is entirely appropriate in the realm of sports (Go Cowboys [despite Terrell Owens]!!), it's hardly conducive to thoughtful political conversation. How do we, as participants in the kingdom of God, reduce the stridency of our discourse and genuinely seek that radical inclusion that we find in Scripture?

I'm not sure. I don't have a tidy theological answer. What I do have are 2 close, close friends and several family members who will certainly make a different choice on Nov. 4th than I will make. And I'm committed to them, just as committed as to the folks with whom I largely agree. I don't hate them, they don't hate me. We love and respect each other. How do we find the courage to sit down with someone and say, "Tell me why I should care about this issue. Tell me why you are voting for this person. I may not agree, but I want to know. And I'm really listening." And how do we have the grace to answer this question, not with arrogance and hubris, but with a passion tempered by humility?
What do we do? I want to hear what you think.


Brandy said...

I love this...and totally agree with your friend. I CANNOT even watch the debates because I know people are watching them like they are watching a football game. They just want their "team" to win. It seems so wrong. Whatever happened to listening to the messages and being thoughtful about it all? That is long gone...sad.

Janet said...

I think we have to learn all we can about both candidates, so that when the "party-line" people start talking, we know whether or not they're correctly informed. Sadly, I don't think that they're always willing to listen to rational discourse. I have my Obama sticker on my Jeep and I'm just thankful no one has bashed in my windows yet. When November 4 comes I can't vote a straight Democratic ticket because of the fact that the state Democratic party in its infinite wisdom has chosen as candidate for magistrate a previous office-holder who went to jail for corruption. And while we absolutely CANNOT re-elect Mitch McConnell, Bruce Lunsford is not looking much like an improvement. I hope there's a third option, or I may have to write in George Clooney.