Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Another Test of Faith

Well, the political season is upon us (does it ever leave?) and I've seen a couple of recent posts that bring various thoughts to mind. Sir Paul reminds us in a recent post that we might be "evangelical chumps", taken for a ride by the Republican party. Almost at the same time, the Stand to Reason crew posted an interesting reflection of a recent 60 Minutes story in which a supposedly "politically-conservative Christian and Federal-government employee for the faith-based initiative that politically-conservative Christians are being manipulated by the Republican party so he suggests a "fast" from politics to be able to evaluate the relationship of Christianity and politics."

Here is the fellow's blog...he's been getting a lot of play from his comments.

What is your gut telling you this voting season? What specific issues will drive you to the polls (or keep you away) this season?

Sir Chuck


  1. Foreign Policy and abortion

    Foreign Policy is about survival, abortion is about morality and honor.
    foreign policy is also a peculiar interest of mine.

    Sir Jason

  2. I suppose it is fair enough for politicians to have "pure contempt" for us seeing as a number of people have contempt for politicians.
    But whether or not they have contempt for us doesn't matter so much as whether they acheive their purpose.
    I intend to go to the polls out of a sense of duty-even though I am a good enough mathemetician to know my vote will be submerged in millions. I don't intend to vote in 2006 because I usually don't vote in midterms, and I am not usually interested in local or legislative stuff-executive is more dramatic even though I really effect it more by comments on the net then by my vote.
    Idealy it should be the reverse. Foreign policy should be handled by professionals and the main purpose of the public in this regard should be simply to prevent those mistakes that professionals are uniquely susceptable(rigidity and in the case of foreign policy an overwillingness to assume ends justify means).
    Domestic should be decentralized as much as possible to give people some control over their lives. When the local governments lose their dignity, the people lose their's and democracy necessarily becomes oligarchy. Some form of oligarchy is inevitable but it is not to be encouraged. If Jameel is reading, I don't know if he will appreciate this point being from a country small enough for that problem to be less.
    On the other hand most of the domestic issues are about points that are outside my technical knowledge. I have no idea whether there are too many potholes on road X for instance, or how much is appropriate to fix them, or whether we will get our money's worth. I can give an opinion on foreign policy and associated. For instance it is too bad the Osprey was a flop as it could have been useful, the Seawolf is an aestheticly attractive money-guzzling redundancy, there are to many bases, to give some obscure and therefore noncontroversial examples of that sort of thing. That is my technical expertise. So I paradoxically don't vote domestic even though I know that I am mathematically less effective on the federal leval.

    Sir Jason the Paradoxical

  3. "Being manipulated" is unfair. Politics like economics is about mutual manipulation. We are only manipulated if we don't get a proper return or if we are treated in an unsportsmanlike manner. Both of these require our political incompetance which is shrinking daily.
    "Uncle Toms" is also unfair. By the way it shows the difference between the church and the world. In the book Uncle Tom was a humble saintly figure who endured persecution meekly, not because he hoped to win favor by grovelling(thereby becoming a persecutor himself), but because he was humble and meek. Grovelling is the devils perversion of meekness, and many in the world can't understand the difference.
    Be that as it may, evangelicals are not being played for fools. Well some are but that can be said of any group. Everybody knows that politicians want power(I am not being judgemental-I do not say that they are obsessed, want nothing more, or that they would do anything for power, I am simply saying that they want power).
    A Christian in politics is in a somewhat ambiguous position. It is said, "when you sup with the devil you need a long spoon"-the question is how long a spoon.
    On the one hand one can become apolitical. However being apolitical is a more morally compromiseing position then it seems-it is depending on others for protection, and despiseing them for protecting us. If we declare politics to be sin then we declare that we depend on sin for our survival.
    On the other hand if we get involved we either have to be fanatical or make to much compromises. Political fanaticism is idolatry. It also doesn't work unless our hypothetical fanaticism encourages tactics that are harmful to the Republic.* In the first case we would be laughing stocks, in the second place we really would be the Big Bad Theocrats.
    On the other hand we can go the traditional route and lobby with the best of them. In that case we have to decide what can be conceded and what can't.
    As for having a political fast, it seems to me a remarkable way to give an advantage to those who do not do so. Less cynically, I would say it is a matter for individuals like any other kind of fast. If a Christian feels he cannot handle the temptations involved in politics maybe he should opt out temporarily. Or even permanently.
    In a way the issue of politics is "How does one protect against an enemy without being like him?" An old point and a very tricky one. Moreover you cannot just say, "God can be trusted to protect and your responsibility is to do right". That isn't the real question, the question is, "what is right".
    It might be noted that David, Hezikiah, Josiah, Esther, etc were all active in politics. God doesn't condemn the activity out of hand.

    *Unfortunatly "minor-key" rebellion works more often then it should because most democratic politicians are to squeemish to repress it.

    Sir Jason

  4. Agreed, good comments. David Kuo seems to forget that the Right (whether Christian or not) are not socialists, rather, as in the case of the Christian right, they believe it is their own responsibility as a church to provide for the poor (although there are likely many who just don't care about the poor, but this is a poor generalization about all of the Christian right). However, the non-Christian right, commonly adopt to the ideal of Noblesse oblige.

    I'm surprised at Kuo's comments on this matter.

    Why the "however"? "Noblesse oblige", simply means a romanticized version of, "with great power comes great responsibility". That would certainly include help for the poor. And in fact non-christian conservatives also give to the poor.

    Sir Jason

  5. Sir Ja -

    Seems to me that foreign policy and abortion are two issues that are highly likely to be impacted by this mid-term election that you say you'll sit out...all the pundits are saying that the Democrats will win back the Senate and the House. If so, foreign countries (and enemies) will know that they can just be obstinate and wait for "regime change" in 2008, and pro-choice forces will hammer hard for legislation to protect their "choice"...

    Sir C

  6. As for having a political fast, it seems to me a remarkable way to give an advantage to those who do not do so.

    Well said, Sir Jason the Wise!

    Sir C