Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Spiritual Masturbation

Over coffee this morning, a good friend reminded me that so much of our “insider talk” as Christians basically equates to masturbatory language. We talk and talk, ascending to higher plains of intellectual enlightenment, making ourselves and each other feel satisfied in the short-term — but not too long afterward, we are unsatisfied and actually feel bad. I’ve begun to look at the majority of doctrinal debates, and thus the majority of Christian blogs, in this way. It’s self-congratulatory: “Aren’t we great for knowing these facts or believing these propositions.” The majority of these conversations make painfully little difference to anybody but ourselves, and yet we continue to expend energy on them.

In the end, these masturbatory exercises rarely lead us to communal or individual transformation, let alone action. As our world cries out for redemption and healing, we basically ignore its cries and choose intellectual pursuits and shallow debates instead. God help us. (no, really … Lord, Help Us!)

Church and Tupperware Parties

First off, I review Bill Maher’s comedy, Religulous, over at the Jesus Manifesto zine.  Check them (the review and the movie) out if you get a chance.  On a related note, it’s interesting that apparently, folks associated with the film’s production created a fake Christian rock band to call for a fake Christian boycott of the movie in order to create more of a buzz around the film.  Check out the funny call to arms here.

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We’ve all known him or her at one point in our life, perhaps at this moment.  S/he is a regional salesperson of [insert product name here] for [Tupperware / Pampered Chef / Mary Kay / etc].  Remember the first few weeks s/he was selling the stuff?  How s/he kept inviting you to that sales event s/he was having at his/her house?  How everyone would receive the complimentary gift, and there would be no pressure to commit to buying anything?  How you either went to the party, bought something, and that was the end of that … or you didn’t go, haven’t bought anything, and subsequently dread every conversation with said friend since then?

Sound familiar?

I wonder if this is how many outside of Christian circles feel about their Christian friends, especially those who are super evangelistic.  You know, always feeling like they are trying to get them to buy something.  Trying to get them to come to some introductory meeting at their church building or house, where they may even receive a complimentary gift just for showing up. (a Bible, a CD of worship music, the Jesus Video…)  Like many “regional salespeople” of those catchy kitchen products, one begins to wonder if s/he is my friend because s/he cares about me, or if s/he is just trying to sell me something.  In way too many relationships, the agenda is painfully obvious, and the “potential buyer” is usually the one who gets flogged by it.

I’m finding it more and more difficult to “close the deal” in this way as it relates to my faith, instead just desiring to love people and be their friend for no other reason than to love them and be their friend.  (because Jesus said this was the sum of the law and the prophets)  On the other side of the coin, I want all my friends to experience the joy of life under the reign of loving Jesus and be assimilated into his mission.

This is perhaps my/our biggest tension right now.  Suggestions?

*my apologies to any of my readers who are “regional salespeople.”  My intention is not to knock your profession, but to underscore the difficulty of forming authentic friendships while trying to sell a product.  In the same way that not all Christians are “salespeople for Jesus,” clearly not all “regional salespeople” fit my description above.

Brilliant.

Ahhh, satire.  You are a shrewd and honest lady.  (ht)

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jesus / Obama

I’ve admitted a number of times that Barack Obama’s rhetoric of changing the world, creating a new world, bringing hope to the world, etc., stirs me a little inside.  I’m stirred because that’s what I want.  I live by the idealistic mantra that “another world is possible.”  That the world is broken, but slowly and surely, it is being put back together.

My problem, however, with Barack Obama is this: He doesn’t point to the Risen Lamb as the source of this new world.

His religious rhetoric implies that he views Jesus as the supporting actor for the real leading lady, politics.  I don’t doubt that his faith in God is real, but I simply don’t think he’s asking the question, “How would society be different if God were running the show, not man?”

Furthermore, as the linked article above satirically points out (along with magazine covers, news reports, and daily conversations with Obamites), many people view Barack — consciously or subconsciously — as a sort of savior figure.  As if one man could really bring about the kind of “new world” he preaches.  Christians, especially, should know that this is impossible.

But, like the Israelites, many Christians on both the Left and the Right are yelling, “Give us a king to lead us!

From time to time, when I hear an especially stirring Obama speech, I can find myself yearning for such a one.  Lord, forgive us.

Christian Politics, rd 4: Takin’ on McLaren!

OK, let’s get back to it.  Christianity.  Politics.  What are we to do?  Does God care?

I have already made the suggestion in these posts that Jesus was radically political, but not in the way his disciples or enemies thought.  He came to announce the nearness of the kingdom of God, which would bring sight for the blind, health for the sick, freedom for the captives, and so on.  Everyone thought he’d do this by way of a military coup, but boy did he have everyone tricked.  His method would be just a little different … like, try the complete opposite.  He’d give himself willingly over to the authorities, take an unthinkable tongue-lashing and physical beating, and then take up his cross and carry it to a prolonged and excruciating death.  And then, three days later …

I’m also suggesting that Jesus’ political example was not simply one more cute thing the Son of God did that we can gloss over and chalk it up to the whole “being God” thing or to context or whatever — I think his political posture was quite intentional and intended as a precedent for his movement.

What is this movement?  A movement that actually joins the risen Lamb in his Luke 4 mission.  A movement that refuses to settle for a “gospel of sin management,” as writer Dallas Willard phrases it, where we set out to answer basically two main questions: “What do we do about original sin?” and “How do we go to Heaven after we die?”  Indeed, the mission of the church — and the gospel, even — are probably quite a bit more far-reaching than we ever imagined.

Brian McLaren photoThis brings me to some material I ran across on Brian McLaren’s blog.  McLaren, of course, writes lots of good books and speaks a lot.  His book titled The Secret Message of Jesus probably did more for my understanding of Christ as a radical, subversive, prophetic-yet-action-oriented man than probably any other work.  McLaren’s latest book, which I haven’t read, is titled Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope.  Nice title!  As you can see, McLaren and I agree on the broad, far-reaching scope of Jesus’ work int he world.

Well, McLaren has been posting a series on why Christians should vote.  You can read them at the following links: Intro, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (more to come, I’m sure…)  While I still greatly value McLaren’s voice and scholarship, I must take issue with some of his points regarding the Christian’s political responsibility.  The post I take the most issue with is Part 1, where he explains why he feels Christians should vote, in 4 points.  (you should click on the link above and read the whole article if you have time)  I definitely think he gets most of the big theological stuff right, but I’m not sure his conclusions and calls to action mirror the meta-narrative he’s conveying. (I’ll put his writing in quotes and respond directly underneath)

1. True, there are plenty of reasons to be disillusioned with US politics (corptocracy and plutocracy being major ones). But in my travels in other countries it has become clear to me that even though our system has a lot of problems (and that was a gentle understatement), many other nations are far more corrupt, far less transparent, etc. If we in the US don’t try to make our system work, we’re setting a pretty poor example. Besides, in every other area of my life – church, family, business, etc. – I don’t let disappointment or disillusionment or setbacks make me withdraw into inaction. Rather, I become more committed to make things work.

Tony Campolo once said, “America may be the very best Babylon in the world, but it’s still Babylon.”  McLaren’s turning this statement around in an effort to justify participation in Babylon’s corrupt politics as a means to seek change.  Setting a pretty poor example?  Of what?  What’s a better example: A nation where every Christian votes, or a nation where every Christian lives like a Christian and takes care of the broken world around them?  To me, Christian participation in American politics as a primary means to see lasting change falls under Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.  Ask some of the original members of the Moral Majority how that worked out for them…

2. I don’t expect any candidate to be perfect. In fact, my theological beliefs tell me that I will always be choosing between the lesser of two evils – or more positively put, the better of two less-than-perfects. The fact that candidates are willing to endure the hard work, the media scrutiny, the pressure, the responsibility – of both the election and the office – can be seen a sign of something good. After all, if all a candidate cared about was personal peace, personal comfort, or personal wealth, there are a lot better ways to get ahead. So rather than say, “I don’t think either candidate is good enough for my vote,” I’m more prone to say, “Thank God that people are willing to run at all, and thank God that we have two candidates as good as the ones we have.” We could be choosing between Mugabe and Mugabe.

I think he’s settling here.  Is it God’s desire that his followers ever choose “a lesser evil”?  Isn’t this where the upside-down gospel breaks in and provides a “third way?”  OK, so I like the fact that Obama wants all Americans to have healthcare, but I also know that he will take our nation back into bloody war if need be, while continuing the trajectory of American empire-building.

Theologically, I’m not sure the continuation of McLaren’s argument flies.  Celebrities of all kinds — movie stars, musicians, artists, adult entertainers, etc — “endure the scrutiny, the pressure, the responsibility” of being in the limelight.  I don’t think Brian’s saying we should put just anyone who meets these criteria on a pedestal or play by their rules, is he?  And let’s not fool ourselves here with the motives of politicians … power, money and fame are enticing mistresses indeed. (God knew this all along, but the Israelites just had to have a king…)

3. I believe there is much to protest in our current system. But noninvolvement, it seems to me, generally empowers those who are in control. So non-voting becomes a kind of passive vote for the people in power.

OK, he really confuses me here, because passages he’s written in recent books have contradicted his sentiment above.  Since when is it the task of Christians or the church to prevent the people in power from having their power?  What’s more, doesn’t voting do the same thing he’s warning against here?  Both McCain and Obama are already powerful guys, and the guy who loses will have lots of power right along with the guy who wins.  My view is that putting one’s hope in this system where whoever raises the most money wins simply reinforces a worldly — not a Jesus-y — definition of power.  It says that in order to get X, Y, and Z done, we need to elect so-and-so, and basically accept all the awfulness that goes along with the process.  A) I don’t buy it that we need to have so-in-so in power to get X, Y, and Z done.  My Jesus has been working miracles in lives and communities since the beginning of time, and I think our biggest problem is that we simply haven’t trusted him enough. And B) We should mourn, not reinforce, the racket that is the election system.

4. I believe that a commitment to Christian discipleship should make me a better neighbor, employee, spouse, child, or parent too. Similarly, I believe that “citizenship in God’s kingdom” should make me the best kind of citizen possible, not the worst. Of course, because of my commitment to God’s kingdom, I have a broader range of concerns than I would without that commitment. (More on this in the next post.) But I believe that those concerns would in the big scheme of things make me an even more valuable citizen. My civic responsibility would certainly not end with voting, but I can’t wee why it would stop short of voting either.

OK, Brian, I’m with ya through most of the overarching points here here.  But I’m not sure “being the best kind of citizen possible” = playing by the political rules of our host empire.  Wouldn’t it be like Jesus to model a way of living that gives the powers and principalities of this world fits?  I strongly question the witness of a church that follows the “lamb who was slain,” takes the lowliest seat at the table, and becomes like a child, yet jumps headlong into a system that, by its very nature, embodies the opposite of these values.  And in the last sentence, he seems to imply that a vote is just a little part of being a citizen of this country, so why not bite the bullet and do it.  Because it’s a matter of principle!  How can a church whose commander-in-chief is a Lamb who was slain cast even one vote for a candidate who seeks change in a completely different way?

McLaren is such a trusted voice in the ongoing conversation about what it means to follow Christ in contemporary culture.  In no way am I denigrating him as a prophetic figure in the church.  (in fact, go ahead and check out this PowerPoint presentation he made at the Sojourner’s Pentecost event in D.C. recently … really good stuff)  I do, however, think he would approve of my jumping off some of his points to spur on a little healthy dialogue.  Also, I realize that some of what I’ve written above may sound a tad abrasive, especially to those who will most likely vote in November.  While I want us to have a free and open dialogue on the journey of being shaped into Christ’s image (and I want us to be shaped into Christ’s image as well!), I also want to recognize the diversity in the body, and the reality that really faithful believers have and will come to a different conclusion on the role of Christians in politics.

Christian Politics, rd 3

If you checked out CNN.com yesterday, you may have noticed that a story about Shane Claiborne and the “Jesus for President” tour was the lead story on the front page for a while.  Here’s the link.  (ht)

Here’s an excerpt with a good quote from the interview with Shane:

They endorse no candidate and make no effort to sway the voters for one party or another.

After the speech in an interview with CNN, Claiborne said, “This is not about going left or right, this is about going deeper and trying to understand together. Rather than endorse candidates, we ask them to endorse what is at the heart of Jesus and that is the poor or the peacemakers and when we see that then we’ll get behind them.”

Claiborne says the movement of younger evangelicals is growing and looking at the Bible in more holistic terms. He is quick to say the call of Christ has more to do with how people live their lives on November 3 and 5 than how they vote on November 4.

“It’s certainly easy to walk into a voting booth every four years and feel like you’re going to change the world but that’s not going to do it.”

OK, so how can we begin to engage in the subversive politics of Jesus without selling out to a broken and corrupt system?  If it has more to do with how we live our lives on Nov. 3 and 5 than how we vote Nov. 4, then what would that kind of life look like?  I really am curious to know what you think…

Peace.

Christian Politics, round 2

We must see what is going on today. Something different is happening. We have wasteful technologies used by billions of people growing exponentially, more expansive exploitation, more powerful bombs. And yet people’s hearts are the same as they were thousands of years ago: a chaotic mix of love and hate, creativity and destructiveness. But this is the problem. Our tools have “advanced,” but we haven’t advanced spiritually or morally. And so we, normal people, with the tools of destruction and wastefulness available for daily purchase, cannot handle the power. With all of the destruction that has ravaged the earth since the Industrial Revolution, one wonders if we can even call it advancement. Those who are convinced that we are at “the end of history,” at the apex of civilization’s development, fail to notice that the twentieth century was the bloodiest and most toxic in world history. And to sanctify this chaos, as our friend and priest Michael Doyle has said, the church’s precious words have been co-opted for profit: trust, fidelity, mutual equity. We can see them all around us in bank statements and on billboards.

Maybe, as a response, we in the church work for legislation that attempts to turn the tide, but these efforts often do not change the way we, as communities, live or think. Addressing our needs versus our wants and making sacrificial choices to buy less or differently is not something the state can do for us. We can see one reason why Jesus exorcized unclean spirits and opened eyes — the state wasn’t doing it. It’s the small things we do every day — the logs in our eyes — that are of great significance. (Even worse, in the face of escalating tension in the world, after 9/11 the government called us not to be frugal and thoughtful but to go shopping. One wonders if a nation that wholeheartedly buys into this scheme while launching two costly wars should have dangerous weapons anywhere near them.) We might hope to change the world through better, bigger programs to stop global warming, but global warming will not end unless people become less greedy and less wasteful, gaining a fresh vision of what it means to love our global neighbor. (Jesus for President, Claiborne & Haw, pp 192-193)

Another example of this is the civil rights movement.  Yes, I know many use civil rights to justify political action in order to remedy social injustices.  But have things really gotten better?  Sure, blacks can now use the same drinking fountains and bathrooms and attend the same schools as whites, but what about the racial tensions that remain?  Segregation still exists, people.  Today, we have thousands of ghettos full of millions of minority families struggling just to find their next meal, and we tell them that it’s solely their fault that they’re in this pickle. Desegregation led to white flight which led to suburban sprawl …

Did the civil rights legislation (I’m talking about the rulings here, not the peaceful demonstrations and prophetic words of folks like MLK) fix the human problem of racism?

And what about the other issue commonly used to defend political action: slavery.  Sure, whites don’t chain black people to each other and force them to work our fields anymore in America, but has slavery really been abolished?  What about the sweat shops in developing countries owned by American corporations?  What about the sub-human working conditions of immigrants across this great land of ours?  What about the turmoil those aforementioned minority families must go through in order to make enough money to survive?

No, slavery hasn’t ended … it’s just been reconfigured, cleaned up, outsourced.

Until we begin to view and treat others as our neighbors — loving them as ourselves — we won’t see permanent solutions to these problems.  I know one thing is for certain — no political legislation is going to enact this change.  Only the love of Christ, “made flesh” in radical communities across the world who are joining God’s redemptive work in the world, can.

my political journey

mccain and obama

If you haven’t noticed, 2008 is an election year.

(Some of you just muttered to yourself, “So that’s why they keep showing that toothy guy and old man on the news!”)

A certain excitement surrounds presidential elections.  Much of it is media-induced, as was evident by the earlier-than-ever start to the primary season (summer 2007).  But a lot of it is, I think, a genuine yearning in the hearts of Americans to start fresh, wipe the slate clean, or move in a new direction.  That’s why every candidate in the race is using buzz words like “hope” and “change” and “new direction.”  I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t more than a little caught up in the political fever myself.

But I’ve come to a point where I can no longer attach any of those adjectives — hope, change, etc — in their deepest, truest meanings, to the political process.  Though I am still a deeply political person, I refuse to be political in the way we are told to be political — by voting, by supporting one of two major parties, by pushing for legislation, by seeking to leverage my own power and strength.

It hasn’t always been this way, however.

My parents raised my brother and me to be good Democrats.  We denigrated Reagan economic policy around the house and rooted for Dukakis to defeat George Bush and the Republican machine in 1988.  The 1990s were political glory days around our house … Bubba could do no wrong.  He was a guy to whom my dad, who has spent much of his life in Arkansas’ neighboring Memphis, could relate.  In his smooth, Southern accent, he spoke of compassion and peace and health care for all Americans.  Even Clinton’s legal woes with Watergate and Monica-gate didn’t diminish the big guy’s celebrity around the house.  Heading off to college, I had received more than my fair share of political indoctrination — not in a heavy-handed way, but in the subtle way parents pass along their own ideologies to their kids.  Needless to say, I went off to college in Texas with my mind made up about whom I was going to vote for in the 2000 election.

al gore mask

In fact, when I arrived on campus at my overwhelmingly Republican university, I immediately joined the tiny but faithful College Democrats club.  At the first meeting, I was even selected to serve as the vice president during the 2000-2001 year.  That election year, we would show up for debates against the College Republicans (a veritable machine on campus…), sign folks in town up to vote, attempt to broaden the debate on campus from just two issues dealing with sexuality to issues of justice, the environment, and the economy.  Looking back, this snot-nosed freshman really didn’t know what the heck he thought about much of anything, certainly not enough to deserve the VP position in the college Dems.  I think I was more concerned with being different from my “war-loving, vitriol-spewing, poor people-oppressing, trust fund baby” (my perhaps misguided thoughts at the time) Republican friends.  (you should have seen my Al Gore Halloween costume, though…)

I think we all remember what happened in the 2000 election.

“Projected Winner: Al Gore” … oh, wait.  Hanging chads.  Gore wins the popular vote.  Florida Supreme Court.  Bush wins, weeks later, by a hair.  Gore cries (has he stopped?).

We were all devastated.

Most of our friends were electrified.  A Texas boy had made good and gotten to the White House.  Bush’s supporters at the university that gave him an honorary degree (along with Charlton Heston) could finally say they knew him when…

I developed a much more robust personal political philosophy over the next few years, primarily because I had so much material to work with.  Right out of the gate, George W. Bush’s cowboy attitude just rubbed me the wrong way.  (and as a writer, the Bushisms annoyed the heck out of me!)  Then came 9/11, which I helped cover for the school newspaper of which I was a member, and the political poo hit the fan.  We were staging an all-out retaliation in a country that had little, if anything, to do with what happened to us on that Tuesday morning in New York.  America’s leaders, led by Bush himself, took a page from the Toby Keith school of foreign policy and threatened to “put a boot in the ass” of anyone who crossed us.

Patriotism was also at an all-time high.  One could see flags everywhere, and often they were accompanied by pithy statements like “These Colors Don’t Run” or “Freedom Isn’t Free.”  Even many so-called progressives rallied behind the flag and our president and supported returning the slap that Islamic terrorists had given us.  Through all this flag-waving, though, I kept thinking, “What about the Afghan children?  Are they less precious than our own children?  Is our own ‘homeland security’ more important than Afghanistan’s?”

iraqi child

Then we invaded Iraq.  The rationale never quite squared with me.  Tension had been building for months over supposed WMDs inside Iraq, but to date, none had been found.  Then came Dubya on the TV set during primetime saying we had begun a “shock & awe” attack on Baghdad in an effort to free the Iraqi people from tyrannical Saddam Hussein.  No mention of WMDs.  There was, however, some connection made to what happened to us on 9/11, but I couldn’t (and still can’t) see how any of that rationale adds up.  All I saw was an emboldened empire seeking to expand its reach using military might.  It was way beyond retaliation at this point … this was pre-emptive war.  I saw it then and I see it now. (photo credit: David Leeson, 2003)

The night of the shock & awe campaign, I wrote an editorial for the school newspaper applauding the US for attempting to root out Saddam quickly and without much collateral damage.  A quick in and out procedure.  Five years and 60,000 deaths later…

These events, as well as the ongoing war, kick-started my disillusionment with the tactics of the U.S. Government in foreign policy.  I began to see that the American project doesn’t exactly square with my primary identity as a citizen in God’s kingdom, and that both political parties (not just one, as I’d previously thought) were guilty.  Sure, the parties talk a good game with regard to justice and values, but in the end, the status quo must be maintained.  (which means people around the world and right under our noses are squeezed to the margins or destroyed)  These realizations were further underscored when I began investigating the un-reported intimidation, extortion, dishonesty, and even murder US officials were committing around the world to bolster the wealth and power of the nation. (John Perkins’ memoir, “Confessions of an Economic Hitman,” was especially eye-opening)  This is about when I began referring to America as an Empire.  That’s right, empire — like Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Great Britain. (watch this video if you’re not convinced)

Indeed, the lily-white history of the United States I received in elementary school was, for the first time, in question in my mind. As my eyes were opened to the reality that my fellow countrymen and women were killing my brothers and sisters in Iraq and Afghanistan while the American church stands behind such action — even cheering it on — a new light was shed on how the last 200 years or so have proven to be a slow march toward empire-building for America.  In light of these realities, how could I comply with the political system, as is?  How could I put any hope in a system that, at its very essence, places nation over the Cross?  Furthermore, how could I continue to support candidates and parties that support economic systems that run counter to God’s economics policy of Jubilee?

In the 2004 election, my wife and I placed opposing votes in Texas in order to cancel the other’s out.  This was our first act of political subversion, albeit largely insignificant. It was, however, significant for us personally, setting us on a pathway of deepening our identities as citizens first and foremost in God’s kingdom, not man’s.

For the last four years, my political theory — in light of my theological convictions as a follower of Jesus — has been shaped and formed, and the writings of Yoder, Hauerwas, Wright, Claiborne, and others have impacted me greatly.

Many have traded the political ideologies of the Religious Right (a failed experiment) for more progressive political views, still informed by faith.  Leaders in this movement, which include Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo, among others, have correctly called Christians to broaden their view of justice and righteousness from a couple sexual issues to include the environment, poverty, economic disparity, consumerism, and peace.  In many ways, I have these thinkers to thank for sparking the conversation about the problems in the current political system and foci among Christians.  I have come to see, however, that these leaders are still calling for participation in the politics of Empire in order to attain societal justice.  And while the movement claims to be “non-partisan,” anyone with their eyes open can see that it has become the Christian Left.  And because the Left is just as hell-bent as the Right about maintaining and expanding empire, maintaining a consumerist economy, and waging war, I cannot with a clean conscience adhere to this movement. (though I consider many who do my friends)

I just finished Shane Claiborne & Chris Haw’s new book, Jesus For President, which to a great degree spells out where I’ve come politically.  It’s the book I would have liked to have written.

the lamb

JFP maintains that Jesus was in fact political (it is a common misconception that he wasn’t), but not in the conventional way of the time.  He subverted the Roman Empire with his words and deeds and even the names people ascribed to him, which were all dripping with political irony and meaning.  He continually established and underscored his own kingship (not Caesar’s), and promised that true, sustainable change would occur when people fix their eyes on Jesus and join Jesus in the work of reconciling all things. A thorough and open-minded reading of the Gospels sheds light on this convincingly, I think.  So it’s not a question of whether Jesus-followers are to be political, but how this is done.  (more on this in the days to come)

Furthermore, God knew that too much power in the hands of sin-proned humans was a dangerous thing.  (see the Old Testament for example after example)  Yet the cries of the people — “We want a king!” — prevailed, and God gave them over to their wishes.  (with a not-so-subtle warning, of course)  Today, millions of Christians are yelling, “We want a king!”  Their ideal king may have an (R) or a (D) after his name, may make promises that fit their values to a T, and may in their minds hold the last hopes for a just and righteous society, but in the end, the candidate is an imperfect, frail human.  And I’ve said it before, but I’m convinced that the office of President — or state rep, senator, congressman, mayor, or any political office — shapes the person much more than the person shapes the office.  In the end, Barack Obama and John McCain will be just as interested in Empire-building and war-mongering as any other president who has come along.  The machine simply cannot be stopped.

So this is where I’m at politically.  I want to stand with the poor and marginalized now more than ever, but I don’t believe the voting booth is where I should stand.  I want to see God’s “kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven” now more than ever, but the Empire — with its penchant for war, expansion, wealth-creation, and being first (Jesus told us to be last) — is diametrically opposed to this dream.  God’s peculiar people must continue the work set forth by our brothers and sisters throughout history to affirm that only God can create a new reality, establish justice, and sit on the throne — as King.

Using Jesus For President as a guide, the next few posts will focus on ways the people of God can be more political than ever, while not bowing to the idols of nation or investing in a broken political system.  It can be done, but as Claiborne and Haw (and Brueggemann before them) say repeatedly, it’s going to take an ample dosage of “prophetic imagination.”