Monday, February 21, 2005

Inching toward one another...

Several times during the last week or two I have come across unrelated sources that cautiously broach the subject that Christians who may not have the same political orientation may not be counterfeit after all. This is a hopeful trend and I would like to do anything possible to move it forward.

Dave Goodwin notes today...
Since the US election it seems as if the Left is trying to reach out to Christian voters and address the perception that they are hostile to people of faith. We are seeing an increasing number of "progressive Christians" trotted out (Jim Wallis is a classic example), almost as if to say "Look, we don't hate Christians! Here's one to prove it!".
...concluding with...
It will be interesting indeed to follow this, and to see where it leads for progressive Christians. One prays that it will result in a return to the Christian influence on progressive politics that powered such movements as Abolition and Civil Rights, and a blunting of the influence of those in the secular Left who would see Christianity completely removed from the public square.

The title of the post refers to a "LEAF FROM THE ENEMY'S BOOK." All in caps we can't tell if the reference to "enemy" is identifying Satan Himself or a more generic use of the term. I'm hoping for the latter. That bit about "trotting out" Jim Wallis was also a bit too salty for my taste.

Mark (Daniels, I think) at Stones Cry Out posted comments on the Barnabas Project a few days ago...
Although Christians today, particularly Evangelicals and, increasingly, Catholics, are often associated with the Republican party, the truth is that faithful Christians are found at all points on the political spectrum. ...I think that we politically conservative Christians have much to learn from Christians who are left of center. I think it is good for us to be constantly reminded of the oppressed and less fortunate and that it is our duty to help them. I think we ought to expose ourselves more to our brethren who are more left leaning politically.
...but he quickly adds...
I believe the reverse for politically liberal Christians (not, by the way, to be confused with liberal Christians--those who are necessarily orthodox). I think that politically liberal Christians ought to regularly expose themselves to conservative Christian thought.

Again, the taxonomy is precisely defined so as not to step too deeply into political doo-doo.
And again, I am hoping for a good outcome as I water this seed.

I forgot where I found it, but the Moral Politics Test is an interesting variant alternative to the Political Compass.

This test is a morality-based political test. It finds your political position not by asking you what you think about political issues but by defining your Personal Moral System.
Political opinions are shaped by your moral values. Once we map your personal moral system, we can accurately tell you what your stance is on any political issue.

Like the Political Compass, individual opinions and beliefs are plotted on a two-dimensional matrix rather than a one dimensional line. Neither of these wins academic points, but both provide a good starting point for reflection and discussion.

The old one-dimensional categories of 'right' and 'left' , established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today's complex political landscape....On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It's not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can't explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as 'right-wingers', yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook.

Finally, check this out... state is authorized by God with the legitimacy to "require" that its citizens pick up a rifle and shoot it at whatever target is put in front of them. Men are not, under any circumstance, intended by God to be uncritically obliged to serve the warring objectives of modern empire, however just the war may be. The privilege of conscientious objection must be esteemed above the obligation to murder when Uncle Sam says it's right. Whether or not a Christian is given a special dispensation of grace when he chooses to kill his fellow man while engaged in just military conflict is another matter.

That is from the pen and the sword by Ben Cole, enigmatic blogger self-described in one hundred points, including...

thirty one: I left Baylor after one year because of the "liberals."

thirty two: I will begin my PhD at Baylor this fall.

thirty three: Either I'm liberal, or Baylor wasn't.

Last Sunday his post included...

In case you are not already among the burgeoning conservative intelligensia that reads First Things magazine, then my advice: run, don't walk, to the nearest bookstore and purchase a copy. Readers of First Things (ROFTERS) have become the subcultural soul of illuminated young minds in our generation. First Things groups are popping up around the nation like fever blisters after a high school prom. In fact, Baylor University has just begun a ROFTERS group, organized, in a small part, by your dear friend(s) here at Pen and the Sword.

and later in the same post...

If a group of liberals were meeting regularly to discuss magazines like Sojourners or if, by chance, there existed a group that hadn't read the headlines proclaiming the death of communism more than a decade ago and chose to sit around and read Marxist propaganda--would anybody truly be concerned? Of course not, and I'll tell you why.

Liberal socialism and communist marxism don't really threaten anybody anymore--Cuba notwithstanding. But since the 1950s conservatism has been on the rise, and the "enlightened" holdovers and utopian dreamers of yesteryear who conveniently forget the brutalities of marxism and national socialism still haven't got the point: Your ideas are irrelevant...your doomsday prognostications about "four more years" of social conservatism are silly...your only safe haven is the ivory tower in which you have shielded yourself from the inevitable.

These two last snips don't seem to be from the same source. Remarks about being a conscientious objector made me feel right at home, like something from the Sixties. That kind of talk has been near treasonable since September, 2001, and worse still now with a hot war in progress. But the snarky swipes at a group of moldy Socialists forming a group to discuss Sojourners (not exactly, but that was the inference) could be right from a radio talk show on a slow day. (You can always tell when news is slow. It's time to either beat up on Liberals or rail about public education.)

Go figure.

My own little blogroll has a link to Deborah White (Heart, Soul, etc.) representing a rare breed, progressive evangelicals. No, that is not an oxymoron; go see for yourself.

Like Goodwin (Revenge of Mr. Dumpling) I hope for some kind of left-right entente. I have complained repeatedly about the polarization caused by the abortion debate. I am sure that both sides are frozen in a very unhealthy way by their respective political identities. Lately, I have added my energies to preventing the dismantling of the Social Security System. There are a good many debates that could benefit from some serious Christian attention (not necessarily left or right - which are political terms - but morally compelling arguments uncontaminated by political correctness).

Let the discussions continue...


Dave said...

Oops! When I first started writing that piece I was going to take a slightly different tack, and the tile referred to the Nation appearing to following a trend they have criticised the Republicans for, hence they were "taking a leaf from their enemy's book". While, I am under no illusions that the Nation sees the Republicans as the enemy, I certainly don't see them, or Jim Wallis, as my enemy, or identify them with "the" Enemy.

As I tried to say, I have a great deal of respect for Jim Wallis, and I hope that his increasingly public profile as a progressive Christian spokesperson is a reflection of real influence, not just a smokescreen, because he deserves more than that.

Mark Sides said...

Thanks for the link to The Barnabas Project. I have a great deal of respect for Pastor Mark Daniels. I am Mark Sides, though. There's a lot of evangelical bloggers named Mark, so no worries.

God Bless,
Mark Sides