Thursday, November 8, 2012

thoughts on the American election

I was just reading a blog from a conservative online fb friend of mine in the states, who is reeling from the results of the recent election.  I hesitate to repost it, but in summary, I guess the big question that it brought to my mind is, "is America a theocracy?"  Having said that, the US has a deep sense of purpose that is interwoven with it's religious history.  That's not new, it goes back to Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening and before that it's protestant forebears sailing westward to escape persecution in Europe.  It's been a while at this point, but the word that stands out from my university history class was my professor summing it up in one word-expectation for the "millenium." And that makes sense doesn't it, if you think about it from the perspective of the persecuted pilgrim, a very devout minority fleeing to a brave new world, with hopes for a heavenly beginning.  And it's that sense of purpose, or "manifest destiny," we might suggest, that seems very much to tie in with a desire to support Israel, to be a Godly nation, almost as a spiritual kinship in awaiting the new Jerusalem.  I'm not making any big political statements here folks, just thinking.

But where does that leave us? Because what I see is a lot of good people, and they are good people, my brothers and sisters in Christ, who sincerely, very sincerely pray for their nation, want to bring their kids up right, support charities, and be godly people. Nothing wrong with that. But yet the reality is that not everyone in the US is a Christian, and some of them want nothing to do with religion, and they see things like birth control in schools as being common sense public health. And so the divide continues, with the Christian Right feeling like it's heritage is being lost (and maybe it's spiritual future), and many others who are frightened of the possibility of a looming theocracy that they don't want.

On a personal note, a number of years ago I went through what felt to me like a major shift in how I thought about things. It wasn't like I changed all that much because I didn't.  It was more that I began to question if the present culture war was working, and it seemed very obvious to me that it isn't (when I realized that my secular friends wanted nothing to do with Christianity because they associated it with conservative politics).  But more than that, I began to ask myself, where do we draw the line between politics and personal beliefs and civic duties?  Where do you put those lines in a society?  To be fair, the left is advocating for it's beliefs as much as the right is, are they not?  And surely they base how they vote on their own personal convictions, whatever those would be.  Is that not the way democracies work? We all argue about whether or not we want a stop sign and where to put it, and maybe that's healthy at the end of the day. Is that not, our own individual piece of the democratic pie, to vote according to our own conscience?  It's really hard for me personally, when someone I respect, says "Marg, you're going against your own conscience, if you don't do just that."  Sigh.  So anyway, it's a pickle.  It just so happens that there are a lot of Christians in the states (as opposed to the contrasting small percentage of people who identify themselves as followers of Star Wars haha), and the reality is that religion still plays a huge part in people's lives, and shapes how we think about things. It's part of who we are as human beings, spiritual.  I remember a number of years ago I went to India, and at least my initial impression was that they didn't seem to have this idea of separating religion from well-anything.  They seemed to understand that religion was part of their cultural expression and history and personal experience, just part of life. Maybe secularists could learn something from that too, and show a bit more respect for the beliefs of others. And maybe we as religious minorities should remember our own collective histories, of persecution for our beliefs, and realize that we want other people to enjoy that same freedom of belief and expression, that we have not always enjoyed ourselves. But anyway, those are my thoughts for now, if anyone out there cares to engage them.

Have a great day,

M A Harvey

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