Aftermath Angst

Perhaps it’s because I haven’t slept well the past week or maybe it’s partly side effects from a recent spider bite, but I have been very teary and upset today. I am so distracted by the division I have witnessed surrounding the election. I am not crying over the results and the state of our country; I am strongly feeling and a bit traumatized by the signs of the state of the American Church that I love and in which I was raised.

I haven’t shared publicly yet that I decided to vote for Barack Obama. I hope this doesn’t lead to breaks in friendship or the end of your support. These are real fears of mine as I consider the most passionate half of my facebook home page. I don’t know how to articulate my reasons for voting for him and don’t feel that I need to defend myself comprehensively. I will say that I am a witness to positive changes in the daily lives of people I know and love. I have looked into the eyes of people who are not democrat or republican but are Jesus lovers and community lights, for the first time, have been offered a nod and a dream from the commander and chief of this country. I have experienced first and second hand the corruption and injustice that is active amongst the broken healthcare system and partially due to private insurance companies. I do not underestimate the darkness of greed. My heart has been broken for and warmed towards the orphan, widow, sojourner, and poor and from my experience, their stories and the attitude of Jesus have not given me permission for emotional distance, judgment, and accusation. I do not align with a political party. I do research issues and I do think that the local church should be the primary agent of transformation, charity, and mercy in the world. But I don’t know how to vote apart from these desires and values. I am a lifelong learner of how faith and politics rightly interact.

My heart is breaking because I want so much to see reconciliation, compassion and understanding in the Christian community in times like these. I want to experience and stimulate those things myself and yet I sense a real hardness in the hearts of many and I am sorely lacking in the knowledge, mediation skills, and oratory prowess that would maybe help me find footing in this arena. I am the first to admit this. I am also readily acknowledging that the guy I voted for won; I am not in the same boat as the Christians I am reading on facebook who are truly grieving and angry about Romney’s loss. I feel compassion for your disappointment and my hope in writing all of this is that some of you, especially loyal Republicans, will trust my good intentions and interact with me so I that I can understand where you are coming from.

I have questions. They aren’t especially well-crafted and they are shared in a spirit of true friendship and good will. They will certainly betray much about my positions and limited knowledge and life experience. I am being sincere and am not interested in debating. These questions are the ones behind my tears and prayers today and sharing them is a feeble attempt to share of myself in order to gain those things I mentioned before–reconciliation, compassion and understanding. I am not aiming for agreement. I am not sharing big theology or why questions but ones I thought practical and forthright. Maybe something will resonate with you and someone will humor me and small steps of ecumenism and harmony can be achieved in this small space. Please feel free to speak candidly, to add questions, e-mail or speak with me in person.

Here are some of my questions.

1. What is uniquely Christian and biblical about the Republican perspective? (I am not a Democrat, but I am also not a Republican.)

2. When it comes to the topic of government being too active and too big, specifically in the arenas of immigration and healthcare, who has the power to change or effect national problems? What should the Church do to change these things at the macro level?

3. I have absorbed the impression from Christian Republican voters that homosexual marriage is one area where the government is expected to resemble and legislate their biblical values. Are there reasons why biblical values of jubilee, amnesty, hospitality, aid, forgiveness and others are not areas in which the government should play a role? I know this sounds loaded. I am truly confused about this whole conversation and welcome any two cents worth of sincere, good-will-inspired opinion.

4. What responsibility, if any, do privileged people have to help those who did not have safe or working public schools, a mortgage, a car, a space for a garden, etc. and what extent should the government instill that in its people in order to be a government for all of its people?

5. Do you think abortion is an isolated issue or closely connected with other aspects of our fallen society? If so, which ones and what should be done about those?

6. What proportion of our government spending should be on the military and defense? Is there a sense that a certain proportion tips the scales to safe and unapproachable in the world community? How do increased defense spending, lower taxes and reduced overall deficit and spending go together?

I will pause there. I reiterate my love for my friends, whatever they voted, and my sincerity and learning posture. I was blessed by this song today:

from God Is With Us by Casting Crowns

I feel compelled to tell all who will listen
That peace on earth is not so out of reach
If we can find grace and mercy and forgiveness
He has come to save, He is all of these

Love is raining down on the world tonight
There’s a presence here I can tell
God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel
He’s a Savior we have been praying for
In our humble hearts He will dwell
God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel

13 thoughts on “Aftermath Angst

  1. Hi. Thanks for taking the time to write your post. I just got tuned into the dialogue that this post generated on Facebook. I thought I’d share a bit and pose some questions for reflection as well. I have Christian friends that vote mostly Democratic and voted for Obama this time around and respect the right to their opinion. It’s no secret that many “Christian Republicans”, myself included, simply cannot align themselves with the Democratic Party platform’s position on abortion. Sometimes they sound judgmental about this stance in they way they criticize those Christians that choose to vote Democrat and I would urge them instead to respectfully disagree. I understand where some believers are coming from in terms of their stances on the biblical values of social justice and relieving poverty, although I may disagree on policy issues to address these concerns. At the end of the day, its not a question of which party will advance biblical values. I think a case can be made for both political parties, but for me it is a question of which bibical values matter most to me. In my case, sanctity of life is primary. Once that is eroded, the whole basis for human rights and social justice has no footing. So here’s a question I have for my more progressive leaning friends: Is it wrong for a Christian to be a “one issue voter” (I am not by the way) strictly on the issue of abortion? Because the perception I have is that the more “progressive” socially justice oriented Christians think it is narrow minded and simple just to cast a vote for a candidate based on where they stand on abortion. But go with me for a second on this hypothetical question: If during the pre-Emancipation days, a serious abolotionist Christian that was against slavery voted solely on a candidates’ stance on whether slavery should be outlawed, would that person be considered a narrow minded “one issue” voter that didn’t care about other issues and values? I welcome your thoughts on this. (And yes, I’m being deliberately provocative in my hypothetical to generate some reflection on this question.)

    • Hi Michael,
      Thanks for your candid, respectful response and honesty. I agree with you in that both parties resemble biblical values that are important to me. I cannot speak to if it is wrong to be a one-issue voter though I choose to not be one. It is certainly your right to decide your vote as your wish. 🙂 What I do feel confident about is that if one does choose to base their vote on one issue, that they should be educated about the multi-dimensional nature of that issue. Refusing to look at abortion as simply an impulsive brat’s selfish decision to murder a baby because it’s legal, or any other flat, linear characterization of the issue, is a refusal to be narrowminded on the subject, from what I can tell. That is, if one issue is so important and other major values all spring from it, then it’s consistent for that voter to consider more than a traditional party or politician’s pro-life or pro-choice stance. It is worth considering what systems surround and effect that issue. What case studies of other countries and legislation and movements boast real change. What foreign policies make abortion less likely in other countries. What alternative solutions and education is that voter willing to promote and communicate outside of their one-issue vote, in the thousand+ days between presidential elections. If everyone did their homework and walked the walk, maybe that stereotype linking pro-lifer one-issue voters and being too simplistic would start to uproot. If this reflects you or other one-issue voters, I encourage you to communicate the full story of your vote. 🙂 I am not saying anything about how abortion one-issue voters should have voted in this election; I am replying my thoughts to your question about one-issue voters being characterized as narrowminded. One issue is never one dimensional. 🙂

      • Hi Danielle, I understand where you’re coming from and appreciate your thoughts and feedback. Quite honestly, I almost never get sucked into the blogosphere this much; however, I think it makes for interesting diaglogue. And for all the other readers that have tuned in, I appreciate your responses as well. Yes, I agree politics is complex, but what I was trying to do with my post was get at whether there are certain non-negotiables that would cause some one to be a “one issue” voter. That’s why I brought up the slavery question. Because there were many people that opposed abolishing slavery based on its ramifications, and I imagine people saying that it was a complex issue, etc., saying things like “Do you know what this will do to the economy? What about poor whites that can’t get jobs? They’ll have to compete now with other free citizens?”

        So yes, I’m not a one issue voter but abortion is a big conscience issue for me. It didnt’ use to be. I think now that I’m a dad it has become more so. For my friends that have posted on this blog about how things are complex and not so simple, etc. I pose some questions for reflection and would apreciate your candid responses:

        1) Is a Chinese person (I’m part Chinese by the way) a human being? Yes or No?

        2) If you’ve answered yes to No. 1, then does a Chinese person’s life deserve the full protection of the law?

        *Yes, that was pretty absurd, but what if you applied it now to the abortion debate:

        1) Is an unborn child a human being? Yes or No?

        2) If you’ve answered yest to No. 1, then does an unborn child deserve the full protection of the law?

  2. Hi folks,
    A few of you have taken me up on the invitation to e-mail or message me about some questions and misunderstandings I have. Thank you so much. I hope for more as I am truly wanting to learn and while over 250 people have read this in just over 24 hours, only four people who voted differently have replied so far. 🙂
    In one conversation it was pointed out that I come across as passive aggressive and attacking. I apologize for this. Tone is difficult in an inaudible, faceless medium such as this. I am not trying to be passive aggressive though I am familiar with that behavior. 🙂 I am inviting input from a very large audience and wanted to go out on a limb away from facebook. I know my questions could be worded much more objectively. However, since I shared who I voted for, it was opposite my main audience, and this is such a personal blog, I didn’t work at making them so.
    Finally, I have been told I am a democrat, just not fessing up to it, because I didn’t attack democrats with questions too. I wasn’t clear enough about the fact that I do not worship Obama as some have implied and that I do find major faults and differences with the Democrat Party. I didn’t pose questions to democrats because they won this election and my main investment as far as writing this post and my relationships in question had to do with Republicans. I don’t know if that is inconsistent or nonsensical but it made sense at the time. 🙂 I was sharing my heart and distress and responding to waves of accusation and negative sentiment from loved ones and acquaintances that voted differently than I. So this reconciliatory piece (I hope?) was aimed in their direction.
    I hope that helps explain some of the gaps and weaknesses of the post. 🙂 Thanks, as always, for your precious time.

  3. I am truly interested in replying to your questions, but as we have quite an overlapping political perspective, I feel as if my answers to your questions are the very same you would give, which would not be helpful. I LOVE what you wrote here though, and think it is quite helpful.

  4. I have to echo what Brian said “I love what you wrote here…I think it is quite helpful” probably because I too “have quite an overlapping political perspective.”

    I don’t know the author of this blog but was having an open discussion on FB about my bewilderment and confusion during this election time and someone forwarded this blog to me. It so acutely expressed my own angst at the division in the church. I believe, as goes the church there goes the nation, so I am concerned that unless we can find a path to reconciliation within the church first, we may not be able to support others on this path.

    These are hard, complex and multidimensional issues.

    May God give us a unified mind as we move forward.

  5. I only speak for myself, and don’t claim to know how God would vote. But it is really simple for me. I vote for the candidate that best reflects my values, and my philosophy of government. Usually, it is a choice of the lesser of two evils. Mostly because of fiscal policies, which I believe this election was about. But also the moral issues of abortion, and the redefinition of what a marriage is (which I think the Bible is pretty clear about) to a lesser degree.

    Obama is, in my opinion, a far left ideologue, who is “changing” America into a completely different country. I think most people on my side believe this. This is why people are so sad, mad, disappointed, worried, and fearful. All the emotions that you have heard from your friends, and has you
    perplexed. Maybe you don’t see Obama that way. Or maybe you do, and you agree with his ideology. That is
    a perfectly fine point of view, and apparently the majority view, according to the vote.
    (Actually, I don’t think that most Americans believe in a “Socialistic” system. Most of them have been duped by a slick marketing scheme. Even Obama knows he can’t openly say what he believes, or he wouldn’t have
    gotten elected. That alone is all I need to know about him. If he can’t be honest about who he is, then he already doesn’t reflect my values. He is deceptive.)

    I just don’t believe in this philosophy of government, creating a “utopian” country. The idea of a centralized government with the power to take from one group and give it to another is not only unamerican, unconstitutional, but immoral. Oh sure, it seems like a generous idea, but does it really benefit those who get something for nothing. I think we can clearly see the destruction of families from welfare dependency. It is a slippery slope. A government with the power to give, has the power to take. And take they will. The founding fathers experienced this tyranny, which led to the creation of our constitution. Specifically written to limit the government and protect our God given rights. Not rights afforded to us by a government. That is a unique distinction. Freedom. A people free. Free to be generous or greedy. I believe, the Church, the local community, maybe the state government, should be the conduit for charity and welfare. I just don’t see why you would have such great faith in a giant federal government, that has demonstrated it is wasteful, inefficient, and corrupt.

    Another reason I would not support Obama is how he ran his campaign. He could not defend his record, so his strategy was to demonize and marginalize Romney and conservatives. I resent the insinuation that because I don’t
    support or agree with the first black president that I’m a racist. Romney was called a greedy, rich fat cat, a tax cheat, a felon, a racist, who caused a lady to die from cancer, who wants to take birth control away from women. Did you ever hear of Obama’s plan to pay down the debt, to fix social security, put people back to work. No. It was negative, ugly, and very uninspiring. But I guess it works for him. I think it shows a window into his soul. Not a nice man. Romney stayed classy. Don’t put your faith in Obama. He is a divider. Definitely not a leader. I must admit, I find it creepy, the worship of this man.

    Now to take a couple cracks at some of your questions.

    1. reflecting values, world views. I think democrats put their faith in government,and human systems, and not God. We live in a fallen world. Man can’t make it right, as noble an effort as that may be. All of mans
    efforts to make things right, only come with unintended consequences and failure to solve the problem and corruption. Dems believe in abortion, government solutions, indoctrinating your kids with liberal school curriculum.

    2. immigration, should enforce the laws / change the laws to make it easier to immigrate here. Close the border so we can control who comes in. This is just common sense. Health care. Is it a civil right? Why should it be free?
    The church does do alot in the area of health care. Most hospitals have religious affilations. (remember the big issue of Obamacare forcing religious hospitals to perform abortions and give out contraceptions.)

    3. Government redifining what a marriage is. Man and woman, a man and man, a woman and a woman, how about a man and a horse? These situations are not equal or the same. Only one can produce a child by itself, which makes it unique. I don’t mind a civil union status for same sex unions. Don’t try to equate the two.

    4. Not the responsibility of the federal government. responsibility of the local community and church. As far as schools go. Get the government out of the school business. Privatize all of them, and make them compete for the kids and their tax funding. Competition and getting the teachers union out would fix the school system. It amazes me that liberals want the government to run the health care system, when all they have to do is look at the public school system and the post office for examples of government management.

    5. not sure I understand your question. Abortion is evil and should not be promoted or celebrated by the government and with my tax dollar. This seems to be the liberal “holy sacrement”. Republicans are always accused of trying taking away your right to “Choose” to kill your baby. I don’t see how a moral person can defend this “contrived” constitutional right.

    6. National defense is emphasized under the Constitution, to provide specifically for the common defense and the nation’s welfare. Now that we have a huge welfare state, we are debating about budgeting for social spending and defense. Again, the world view of the candidate is important. Obama seems to think he can apologize and try to be friends with our enemies. Even making concessions, appeasing those who would like to see America in decline and vulnerable. I think a leaner more efficient and smaller federal government would allow us to spend to keep our military the best and strongest on the planet. The best deterent from a would be attack is a strong military. A country with a $16 trillion national debt is vulnerable. Cutting defense spending, as Obama has said he will do, will make us more vulnerable.

    I love that we as free people can opine and dialogue openly about our form of government. That is freedom. What a blessing. A concept that millions of our fore fathers died for. A yearning that is in the heart of every soul that God has created. History shows us this is not something to take for granted. I and others on my side feel it is in jeopardy, with the lefts ideology. Obama is the leader of that ideology. We see freedom slipping away. My grand kids and your kids future depend on the decisions we make at the ballot box. I see the America I grew up in slipping away. Freedom is in jeopardy. Tyranny will take its place. It will start out as “soft” tyranny, but will evolve. Maybe I’m crazy and paranoid. Or maybe by heeding the warnings of the founding fathers and the facts of history, I am shrewd and wise. You tell me.

    • Dan,
      Thank you for your thoughts. I acknowledge your passion for and experience on these subjects and thank you for taking the time to dialogue with me. I don’t think you are racist for not voting for Obama. 🙂 While I would argue that some of your facts and claims* are inaccurate and partisan-driven and that some of the complaints you have about Obama seem just as compelling if Romney were their subject, you have helped me see some of the sincerity and root motivators behind your, and other people’s, vote and groans last week.
      I said in my blog that I do not want to debate. so I respectfully receive your comments and will continue to mull them over and read more on the subjects. I do want to share, with you and others on the blog, that through opening this can of worms and discussing, both on this website, over facebook, over e-mail, and in person, with people who think differently than I do, I have realized a few things. One is that my ideal role and size of government and my most defining values keep me from being partisan, if indeed the democratic party is all about big government, as people keep telling me. Another is that I have started to wonder if long-term exposure to extremely broken local government and the intense disparity between the rich and poor in most of the places I’ve lived contribute to complete dissatisfaction about the solution of the local community and local government stepping up. In fact, I don’t understand why the local community and local governments don’t fix their own problems if they are so capable because they are rewarded for doing so in so many ways. And the Church–what is stopping her?
      What at least 51% of my vote comes down to is this – I follow you and others when you talk about your beliefs about abortion as an isolated topic or when you talk about your philosophy of government or how great it would be if schools were all private. But then, when it comes down to that being applied to the broken system that already is, to the extreme poverty that our nation has, and has had for generations, not just the past four years, and I consider who will be hurt if schools competed for their students or private insurance companies continue to function with no limitations and no one able to run interference, the answer is always the underprivileged. All questions and accusations about Romney aside, it is hard to see past the end of my nose on this one — that is, past what I have seen in my short lifetime, especially from living in one of the most influential states of this country. Perhaps my viewpoint is too limited and too shortsighted. But it is not uninspired. It is not because I’m a socialist or have no moral underpinnings or have put all my faith in government. When I try to consider more privatization my main concern is greed and injustice. Down the road, I see all the poorer kids with no books in their homes and libraries not even going to school, if they have one. I see working poor taking minimum wage jobs middle class kids don’t want, who rely on government assistance because they live in the most expensive and underserved areas in our country, being denied any professional medical care and education and I see a death sentence. I see the wealthy and comfortable squeezing out and away from the poor and those who make them uncomfortable until segregation reaches an all new high. And who wants to bring a kid into that world if that is the world they live in. The average charitable giving percentage in our country is 4%. And that includes all international giving and contributions to planting trees.

      I admittedly don’t know much. From discussing things with you and others, I’ve been able to learn more about what lies behind the vote, behind my vote. It seems like the states have become smaller and more interconnected. My generation often lives in several before they settle down. Our national economy is intensely effected by and affecting the economy of other nations and yet we speak of our own as though it were its own independent ship on an empty sea, with one man at the helm responsible for sinking or saving it. In a world with fewer and fewer boundaries I have questions about power and how preconceived notions of how money and safety and government work need to adapt and stretch and grow. I wonder if I have some huge blind spot that would make all these puzzle pieces come together. But then, I don’t. I think political dissonance, from what I understand, is a healthy thing. I don’t think a vote is straightforward. I appreciate our dialogue because it is a testament to that and to how complex living in this country and serving a King really is. I encourage us all to dodge the bullets of simplification and stereotyping. I don’t really have a lot of rest when it comes to this subject but I am not as distressed by it because people’s responses have reminded me that I am not alone in my discomfort and I have brothers and sisters who are willing to reach out in disagreement.

      *Examples: Obama knowing he can’t be honest (?) or forcing religious hospitals to perform abortions or tax dollars funding abortion through Obamacare

      • Hey Dan,
        I love to read your posts. I wish I could articulate my thoughts like you. That is a gift. I will just leave you with one comment, on your comment of my comment.
        You said that your main concern about privatization was “greed and injustice”. Are you not just as concerned with greed and injustice on the part of government. I just don’t get how people see government as pure, and the private sector as evil. (Actually, I do see. The “left” is very good at putting forth this narrative). Government waste, fraud, and corruption is criminal. And no one is held accountable. Ever. At least in the private sector people get fired for incompetence.
        Dan, you live in the bluest of the blue states. In a city with one party rule, democrat. They have been in power for a long time. You complain about the “broken systems” and the “extreme poverty”. Who is to blame? What solutions are being offered? You would think if their philosophy was right, things would be good or getting better. It is not. My logic and intellect tells me we should try something different.

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