Culture illustrations Politics

This Tragedy Has Changed Us

PS General Slocum

On June 15th, 1904 the PS General Slocum was chartered by St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of New York City for $350. 1,360 people showed up that Wednesday for the 17th annual Sunday School picnic. It was a calm and beautiful morning… anyone who has visited Manhattan in the summer can envision this morning. The sun warming away cool breezes, the river waves slapping the dock, and building excitement as people arrived for a fun day.

Even by today’s standards… a church event with 1,360 people is a really, really big deal. 


Lip Reading the Presidential Debates

With just 2 weeks to go until the elections I am really enjoying some of the comedy to come out of this election.

Practically speaking, I can’t believe I’ve really watched all four debates. Some of them I’ve actually watched twice. The irony is that I watched the last 2 debates after already voting! 

Question: How is your church handling the election? Are you encouraging people to vote? Are you avoiding it altogether? Or are you hosting some way for folks to talk about various candidates for various offices?

Two Big Surprises in the Campaigns

  1. Obama – While he’s had some very good crowds and some big names, I’ve been surprised at how little attention the Republicans have made about his failed use of star power. The left’s alignment with “Hollywood elite” seemed to work as a political attack in the past, why not in 2012? Seems like they should have talked about how lackluster some of that stuff has been compared to 2008. I mean, compared to 2008 the Obama campaign has been really, really lame. Since California isn’t “in play” we don’t really hear many of the commercials. So maybe I’m just not seeing those attacks? 
  2. Romney – I can’t believe Democrats aren’t appealing to evangelicals over Romney’s Mormon faith. Whether you think Mormonism is another religion altogether or a cult of Christianity, Romney would be the first non-protestant to hold the office since Kennedy. Either way, it’s a really big deal. (Sidenote: I hope the BGEA fires Franklin Graham for rejecting the orthodox position on Mormonism to re-assure conservatives.) My assumption is that many of my evangelical friends really are torn, will say they will vote and tell people they voted, but probably won’t because they can’t vote for either candidate.
  3. BONUS – If you missed the Vice Presidential debate you missed an incredible articulation between two views on Pro-Life among Catholics. (watch the video) I’m not Catholic, but I do admire how both vantage points are embraced within the church and the church claims both Biden & Ryan as her own. I’d like to see that same respect shared in evangelical circles.

Reminder for comments. I’m totally cool with comments, but let’s be respectful and calm the rhetoric rather than stir it up.

Christian Living Politics

Friends, we need to calm down the rhetoric

My morning devotions found me in Romans 13 this week. These are timely words from Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

As I meditated on these words, sat on them, stewed on them, on and on… here’s what I’m trying to work on.

  • The Evangelical hermeneutic is very simple. (How we read and interpret the Bible) We take the Bible at face value, unless the author makes it clear to do otherwise. This passage is plain talk, intended to be taken at face value by its recipients.
  • Paul was writing to Roman citizens… people whose government killed Christians for sport.
  • Paul didn’t give readers an out clause. Paul affirmed that Christians needed to respect and honor the emperor of Rome.
  • Paul doesn’t give Christians permission to publicly disrespect a leader, even one they disagree with vehemently. Instead he says the opposite. T

The way I see it, it’s totally fine to be engaged in politics. Actually, I think it’s healthy to ask people to be more engaged and understand what’s going on. But lets be sure not to disqualify ourselves from ministry by expressing our political opinion in a way which Paul would label as sinful. 

While the political parties are in full freak-out mode, wouldn’t it be great if level headed Christian leaders modeled Paul’s way of civic engagement?

Don’t disengage. But help people engage in more healthy ways.