Thursday, May 6, 2010

scattered thoughts on Christianity and political conversation

For the past 30 years (or more?), the political discourse in this country has been influenced, and at times overtaken, by the talk about Christian values. While I certainly believe Christian believers ought to practice our faith and live out our values, for this conversation to have monopolized parts of our national discourse is detrimental to the faith community, and especially to the respect we deserve as legitimate conversation partners.

What I mean is this. By taking immutable stands on issues such as abortion, the status of Israel (especially vis-à-vis Palestine), 'under God' (in the pledge of allegiance), and placing the 10 commandments or other Christian monuments on public properties, we have created a caricature of our faith. By playing into the media's perceived need for sound bites in lieu of substantive reporting, we have overly simplified our faith to the point that we are now easily dismissed. In so doing, we have set up a straw man of our faith that is appropriately easily knocked over.

This straw man is what much of non-christianity believes to be the essence of our faith. The tradition of political discourse in this country is diverse and storied. And if we look to the history of what we've inherited, especially from England, our political history is quite rich, diverse, and fascinating. But our conversations about faith go much farther back, and are tremendously more varied and fascinating, especially if we draw on our forebears in faith from the Jewish tradition.

I believe that the complexity and richness of our Christian faith will be reclaimed in the sphere of public discourse. Maybe now is the time to start.


No comments:

Post a Comment