Friday, January 28, 2005

Sojourners in Politics

Rev. Jim Wallis, the editor of Sojourners magazine, was recently interviewed by Terry Gross and by Jon Stewart. I think Rev. Wallace, his magazine (which I have been reading for several months now), and his new book, God's Politics are the cat's pajamas.

In many ways, embracing liberal moral values grounded in the teachings of Jesus Christ are more important to rebuilding a Democratic majority than Lakoff's liguistic stratgems. First, Christian "Good Samaritan" ethics connect with many people's core values in a very powerful way. Second, Conservatives just can't argue with Jesus; quote the Bible and the argument is over. Finally, liberal churches and other religious organizations are a great untapped source of institutional organizational and activist power for liberals. That source of power drove the civil rights movements of the 1960s, and has been somewhat dormant since.

These are some of the reasons I invited Rev. Straatemeir to guest blog here. DFA needs to get some religion, and religion needs to get some DFA activism. I'm strictly secular myself and have a harder time appealing directly to religious sentiment, but I was raised in a Presbyterian family and the values stuck fast. I may not believe the Bible is the literal truth, but there is good deal of wisdom to mine there if one is judicious.




5 Comments:

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

it is interesting to see the move from secularism, something the Democrats could be depended on to defend (one of the things that I respected the DP for), to "God's Politics." Upfront, I do not see this as a good move.

I did not listen to the interview yet, but I would like to pose some questions....

What about the doctrine of non-initiation of force?

If I'm not mistaken, this was a very important idea to Jesus Christ, not to mention Moses who also risked his life to free people from the shakles of the State (the Pharos).

So how would a Christian-Democrat get around the non-initiation of force in order to build a Democratic stronghold in Congress? Especially considering that a core value of Jesus' teachings admonished various forms of force, especially from the State (the Romans)? What was Jesus fighting for but trying to free his people from the opression of the local Government? (freedom of religion, right to live freely according to God's laws, etc.)

From what I know, Jesus never intended on forcing his religious beleifs on anyone either. I suppose this would go for public policy as well, no matter how many people voted for it. If Jesus was anything He was a very principled man, to whom the ends never justified the means. This idea seems to fly in the face of common Democrat rhetoric. Typical U.S. Liberalism, at its core as I understand it, and Christianity dont seem compatible, considering this.

Simply put, the Democrat Party platform is one that involves many notions that require force -- through taxation & regulation & trade restriction -- to fund their many projects & programs and impose their economic & social planning.

If Jesus' teachings are going to play a bigger role in the ideas at the Democratic Party, or politics in general, how will the non-initiation of force play in?

Will it be considered absolute by only the Christian-Democrats? I see a conflict of interests here.

I would be very concerned with a clash between secularism, which is very important to freedom & rights, and the influence of religious doctrine on public policy. [THis is not to say that religious people cannot or do not support a secular government.]

I am not well-versed in scripture, so I could very well be wrong about my idea of Jesus' core values, so perhaps the good Reverend will be covering these issue in the future. I guess the bottom line is, what did Jesus Christ's teaching center on? If it is indeed the non-initiation of force (which seems to coincide with the idea of a Good Samaritan), then how will the Democratic Party have to evolve in order that Christians will be drawn to it?

 
At 6:01 PM, Blogger Tiny Montgomery said...

While non-initiation of force is part of Christian belief (turning the other cheek), I don't consider it to be such a controlling theme so as to make it difficult for Democrats to be able to synch their platform with Christian dogma. Progressive politics is consistent with the teachings of Christ. Of course, no politician advocates a platform that comes even close to that of the radical redistributionist of wealth and power, Jesus Christ. Embracing the teachings and wisdom of Christ, while desirable, is not likely to attract more non-Democrat church-goers. So many go for years, listen, participate and give generously, yet fail to get the message. If they can't get the message through their own church, there is no way they are going to be able to recognize the message coming from a politician.

 
At 3:37 AM, Blogger Michael said...

I don't know if it's an issue of a Christian being convinced of anything by a politician; it's an issue of recognizing one's values in the mouth of a politician. One of the reasons why Barak Obama was such an amazing success this season is becuase he did speak of his liberal values in terms of his religious belief and upbringing.

Politicans aren't the ones to lead a spiritual rivival, but considering how religious Americans are, they had better understand and communicate how policy, including respect for a secular state, connects to core religous values.

As to non-initiation, I don't think I'm talking about modeling dovernment on Christian doctrine, but connecting with that tradition when advocating policy. Thus, I'm not terribly conflicted. I said politician might need to talk about Christ - not BE Christ.

 
At 6:12 PM, Blogger Tiny Montgomery said...

Agreed. There is no reason to run from religion.

 
At 3:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree

 

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