Friday, October 31, 2008

Thoughts on faith and politics

I don't think I've ever felt more conflicted about a presidential election than I have about this one. The level of invective and hysteria from supporters (even Christian supporters) of both main candidates is astonishing. I want to make a wise decision, but I'm finding it hard to filter out what I need to know. And then there's the fact that I live in the reddest of states -- it hardly matters if I vote at all (except locally).

One of the things that has always puzzled me is how Christians who believe fundamentally the same things can come to completely opposite conclusions about an issue. You see this all the time in theology, in how we address cultural issues, and in politics. I know sincere Christians who will vote for John McCain. I also know sincere Christians who will vote for Barak Obama. They have all approached the election seriously and with prayer. They read their Bibles and study where the candidates stand on the issues they care about and make their choices. Is one set of believers right and the other wrong? I don't think so. I think Romans 14 applies here -- to avoid passing judgment on a brother or sister who disagrees with you, and to follow your conscience. And guess what -- on Nov. 5 God will still be God.

We live in trying times. Of course I want to make a wise decision about who I vote for, but I have to remember that God is in charge and is working out his plan for the world.

What I hope for is that, no matter who is elected, Christians will exhibit love and respect for those they have disagreed with about politics. More than ever, the church needs to be the church -- the hands and feet of Jesus in this world.

Peace. And vote.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Random thoughts in no particular order

My iGoogle homepage now has the left-hand column. I like it (though not everyone does). It lets me interact with my mail or my reader without having to open a new window. (Click on an item in the left column and the main window is devoted to that application, without navigating away from the page.) I can now share items in my Reader without having to actually open Reader -- great time saver. I tend to browse through my google homepage, so this is actually useful to me. I can skim through e-mail and delete items quickly. Pretty nifty.

I have lots of time to think while I'm riding on the van and here's a few thoughts:
• Small towns are good places to live, but so often get bogged down on quality-of-life issues that appear to cost too much money to deal with. Clay Center has one of the oldest Carnegie Library buildings in Kansas, a swimming pool that was built during the Depression, and an aging movie theater that has been partially restored. All of these things need attention, but we seem to lack the collective imagination to visualize a way to deal with them. The theater is in private hands, but run mostly by volunteers and is used by the community for concerts and events, as well as movies. But the library and the pool are public buildings and yet can't seem to find the funds needed for improvements or (in the case of the pool) rebuilding. I think part of the problem is that these facilities are not streets or water plants and so are assumed to be "optional." Believe me, if you want to keep families with children in your town, a pool and a library are not optional. And maybe neither is a functional theater.

• I've watched the debates this year. They haven't helped me make up my mind about who I'm going to vote for. I know which way I'm leaning, but I still feel conflicted. This is the ugliest election I can remember and I'll be glad when it's over.

• There are some Covenant bloggers I follow regularly, for example Randall Friesen, Brad Boydston and Scot McKnight. Now I've added Eugene Cho to that list. (Actually, I've read him for a while, but I finally got around to adding him to my google reader list.) He always has thoughtful, insightful comments about faith and living it out in this world.