Monday, March 28, 2005

Religion--it's for everybody!

I'm a member of a book club that is just starting out. Our first choice was God's Politics, by Jim Wallis. While I haven't read the book (I know, I know: for shame!), I've done a bit o' research on Wallis. There's an interview from Mother Jones available here, the group watched his appearance on The Daily Show, and as my most informative source I'm relying on the ever-reliable reviewers at Amazon! I thought one of them was pretty idiosyncratically nifty, and it's worth quoting in full:
There is only one form of government that assures perfect justice and eliminates hunger and avoidable suffering and it is neither democracy nor autocracy. Caesar can never be reconciled with God. It was, after all, government that sent Jesus to Golgotha. We Americans worship at the throne of democracy yet fail to recognize it's limitations. The fundamental tenet of Democracy is carved in the altar of compromise and the 'greater good for the greater number' ideology. God sanctions neither. The church has failed to be the agent of healing and amelioration of suffering and therefore government has usurped that role. Since Constantine the church has abandoned her assigned role as emissaries for the Christ and sought heavenly ends with sordid means. A true revolution would see the church abandoning her grip on the things of this world and immersing herself in love of God and her fellow man. The church is mocked today because she is powerless save for her influence in politics and that is a great tragedy. We need not ban gay marraige nor abortion but rather we are to bring all men and women to Christ where He will cure the ailments of the heart. Hopelessness, lovelessness, and all of the diseases of the soul that torment mankind have their cure in relationship with the Messiah. The creator alone has the power to mend the whole man and restore the soul. These are not nihilistic observations nor pious platitudes. The list of athiests and cynics who encountered Christ and experienced life changing results is both large and inspiring. It is that same life-changing power that makes mute the arguments of both 'liberals" and "conservatives' and offers hope apart from politics. Each one of has forgotten, to various degrees, the command to "love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and strength and your neighbor as yourself." Rediscovering these truths are the best, indeed only, hope for mankind.
Now, I'm not what you might call a religious man, but I've done more than my share of Bible-reading for someone who doesn't necessarily "believe". I think this guy has gotten the place for religion in politics correct--it shouldn't be there at all. If a politician derives his/her morality from religion, that's all well and good, but I think that that's as far as it should go. I think public statements regarding one's faith are completely self-serving, especially for politicians--I consider religion to be a very personal issue. No one needs to know what I, or anyone else, believe[s] (or do[es]n't); anyone asking is trying to characterize me via a lazy manner of stereotyping, and we need less of that in our world.


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