Religion and Politics

faith and politicsI know. The two most written about topics on the internet, and the two most divisive. But usually about once a week I write about what ever is on my mind, and that’s what’s on my mind. I figure, it’s cheap therapy.  

For most of my life I have been both a religion and political junkie, so I have made a lot of observations.

Aligning with a political party is a bad thing for people of faith. Eventually, you will begin to overlook some important portion of your values, or else, you will compromise them. It’s easy to wind up being faithful to the wrong thing. Political parties don’t exactly form their platforms based on Jesus.

Jesus certainly avoided politics. He seemed to have little confidence in any religious or political leader. The religious right or religious left may be on target on some things and way off on others. One is no better than the other. I have taken heat from both sides, and found them  to be equally self-righteous and ready to vilify anyone who sees things in a nuanced manner.

Listening to the other side is a good thing. It may make you mad. You may disagree, but you need to hear it because, if you listen long enough, you will eventually hear something that makes sense. It may cause you to temper your position.

Moderation is usually a good thing. In our divisive world of tweets, zingers and a fed up electorate, moderation is not a popular political position, but extreme positions usually overlook other important perspectives.

Compromise is part of leadership and legislating. The legislative process is like sausage making. It’s not a pretty process. There must be give and take to move things forward. You never get everything you want. Our nation has been stuck in a quagmire of paralysis because people have dug in their heels, and are unwilling to compromise. That’s not leadership, and it’s not people doing the job they were elected to do.

Objectivity is an elusive, but worthy aspiration. There are various experiences and beliefs that sway each of us. So, it’s hard to be objective. It can seem very harsh, like this.

  • Hilary Clinton is a very experienced candidate that most people don’t trust.
  • Bernie Sanders is winsome in his idealism, but has no viable path for his ideas to become reality.
  • Donald Trump has shaken up the political system, even though he is a wealthy, narcissistic, businessman celebrity who says crazy stuff.
  • Ted Cruz is a tea party, evangelical conservative purist who doesn’t seem much like Jesus and is generally not well liked.

Qualifications matter, but they may not be what you think.

My grid of qualifications:

  • Character. It’s the most important one. If it’s badly broken, when someone gets more power the deficiencies will only be magnified.
  • Commitment. Commitment to the job, the country, and most importantly, commitment to the people are foundational values.
  • Chemistry. Nobody works in a vacuum. So, being able to work well with others and build consensus is critical.
  • Competence. There are skills and knowledge needed for any job. For big jobs, there will always be a significant learning curve. So, a person needs to be both, knowledgeable and teachable.

Reality is usually so deeply buried that all we get to see is image. Just like President Obama’s smoking habit, the real personalities and the character of candidates is largely hidden. Huge egos and rich and powerful friends are probably the norm.

Involvement is a privilege. We live is a country in which we get to do a lot of choosing in who leads us. So, even though it’s a mess, it’s still a privilege. Instead of blissful ignorance or getting our news from Twitter and our favorite comedians, we need much deeper involvement to improve the quality of our government.

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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