Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On the need for Christians to think better

I've been watching the US election campaign with a mixture of fascination and bewilderment. I don't think I really get how the system works or how American voters function at an emotional level. But I've been helped by Simon Shama's spectacularly good documentary series on BBC2 - you can still catch last week's on iPlayer.

Today's paper has an alarming report from Colorado on how evangelicals are facing up to a possible victory by Barak Obama. It really doesn't make for comfortable reading by this evangelical.

Apparently one church is fasting and praying this week for a McCain victory. I'm not sure what the pastoral case load will be like if this doesn't happen and Steve Holt, the pastor in question, has to visit members of his flock to talk about how we cope when God doesn't say 'yes' to everything we ask him.

More worrying was this comment from a church member: 'has Obama through mass hypnosis, figured out a way to bypass the critical faculties of all Americans?'

Is this guy for real? Could it be that Obama has found a way of asking searching questions of all Americans that has resulted in them answering that there could be a better way of conducting ourselves in the world than the way we've been behaving over the past decade? Perhaps elections need to be fought on issues other abortion and gay marriage. Perhaps Christians ought to be as concerned about global poverty and the use of violence to settle regional disputes.

Maybe Obama has tapped into those concerns and people are thinking about what kind of presidency they want, what kind of America they want to live in.

Sadly, some Christians arrogantly think that if people disagree with us it's because they're stupid and sinful. Often it's because they've thought about issues more deeply and carefully than we have and they've found our fortune cookie answers to be wanting. When it comes to mass hypnosis, I think the church member from Colorado ought to ask whether he's been a victim of it for who knows how long and might find an Obama victory is the jolt he needs to snap him out of it.

The disappointing thing about the press report was that there's no mention of Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo or Shane Claiborne - all significant evangelical leaders who are campaigning for Christians in the States to decide their political allegiances and voting intentions on more than abortion and blind support for the secular state of Israel. In the interests of balance, it would be good to see them represented in the reporting of the US election over here.

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