Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cultural Engagement Double Standard

Last night a conservative Republican won a Senate seat that was long held by the poster Child for Liberal Politics. As soon as it happened, I knew - because of my cynicism - that there would soon be a slough of tweets and status updates from pastors and other Christians decrying people's happiness regarding this event.

Geez, it happened before I could even tweet about it.

It comes in many forms and typically looks like a "I'm more spiritual than you" posture. Here is sampling of what you might see...

1. "Don't look for Jesus on Capital Hill." Or there will be some variation of this theme. As if being glad someone of your political persuasion won an election is the same joy you have in Jesus.

2. "I am worried about how happy people are about this." Why? Because you know everyone's heart? Because you are certain this must needs be a nefarious desire by rednecks to get a good ol' boy in the White House? Or because you think there is no possible reason a Christian can be happy a conservative is elected? Perhaps they are glad because they do not like the health reform plans in motion now. Perhaps they do not like the fact we cannot as a nation pay for such a plan. Perhaps they are worried about how it will affect the poor.

3. "If you think this will make your life better, you might have too much trust in politics. You need to reevaluate your life." Well, that depends. I suppose I could have put too much emphasis on this and for a time think this fixes all my problems. But I know no one who thinks like this. I don't. However, I do think it is OK for a believer, who longs for heaven to see something happen and do something to make their life on earth better. If this is not the case, then we should not care about clean water and medical care in Haiti. Hell, we should not care about medical care for anyone, anywhere at anytime if we can't agree with this. Our desire for heaven and our contentment with what Jesus has bought us - namely adoption, justification and joy forevermore - should not cause us to buy into the idea he cannot bless through temporal means - even politics.

As a matter of fact, I am not nearly as concerned about those who are glad Scott Brown won in Massachusetts as I am about an emerging church culture that is too cool to care about these things, to aloof to understand why people are glad and too spiritual to care about what happens in this world. Wait. But they do care. They care about music and movies and art and french press coffee. They care about hip TV shows like Arrested Development and Dexter. They care about hip restaurants and cafe's everywhere. They read all the right books and they do it all in the name of cultural engagement.

All the while, we're not supposed to care about votes in Washington. We are to simply be as monks when good and bad laws are passed it seems. Never rejoicing when a good thing happens. Never upset when a bad scenario ensues.

How about this? Can we not be glad when something helpful takes place in our nation's capital and thank God for it? Can we not be sad and pray to God for help and intervention when legislation is passed we don't agree with?

Must we be stoic, go home and watch 24 (recorded on DVR) and pretend it never happened?


Jared said...

I don't know if I'm one of these pastors you have in mind (although you said they're "uber-hip," so I guess not :-), but I can speak for myself that my discouragement is not about simple gladness in a political victory but in the lack of gladness in Christ's spiritual victory.

What I mean is:
Most of my reflection comes from surveying the day to day statements from people in my life (family, friends, Facebook, etc) and their statements overwhelmingly place their affections in the political/cultural world. They rarely speak of Jesus but speak often and vociferously about the Democrats and the hope for an Obama-less future. Etc.

I know it when I see it because, frankly, I was it at one time.

So it's not so much that people can't love politics (or sports or movies or anything else) and love Jesus at the same time, but that if they do, I would expect to see as much or more Jesus love from their mouths (and keyboards) as I do the other. And I'm sort of one to think that what a person talks most about is what is most valuable to him.

I do know people whose affections demonstrate their hope is in Washington, just as I know people whose affections demonstrate their hope is on the football field (or the movie theater).

That's my perspective anyway, and I won't defend the too-cool-for-school pastors who look down their noses at the uncool Christian riffraff. I agree with you that that is prideful idolatry.

m b redmond said...


Nope. You are not one of these pastors. And i agree with almost everything you said. However, my concern is our kneejerk reaction to this. I knew it would happen before the returns came in. Thanks for reading.

m b redmond said...


Let me amend that. I agree with everything you said. I just think there should be more said. ;)

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