Is your God big enough to face difficult questions? He doesn’t even after to answer them, but does your God even face them? I question some Christians whose God doesn’t seem to be up to the challenge of hard, life shattering questions. That book says something negative about Christians? Well, I better stay away. These song lyrics aren’t Christian, I better switch radio stations. What kind of a faith do you have if it’s always tucking its tail and running? It’s often the same kind of faith that’s so sure of itself it’s got its head up its ass. Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so. The Bible warns against pride, and Christians proudly nod their heads in agreement. We’re so sure of our particular brand of Christianity we don’t even realize there are other people out there who believe in the same God, the same crucified and risen Son, and the same convicting Holy Spirit—but in every other matter believe something contrary to what we believe.
It boggles my mind how Christians rejoice over the election of George W. Bush, claiming that finally a man of God holds the office of President of the United States. They fail to remember that the last man to hold the position also claimed to be a man of God—admittedly a stumbling man of God, but Bill Clinton professed to be a Christian. He may have had different opinions about various issues, but he counted himself among the Christians. Perhaps that’s just a political move. Perhaps the same is true of Al Gore. But perhaps the same is true of Bush. Who are we to judge? I’m amazed at the way Christians interpret the faith of the man in office based on his political party or his decisions on abortion. I’m also amazed at the way Christians interpret the faith of a man based on his sins. We are all sinners, but it seems to disqualify some of us from Christ’s forgiveness.
There are Christians who are continually claiming that America is a Christian nation, and long to return to the days of our forefathers when blah, blah, blah. Spare me your patriotism. Today the United States of America is the sole superpower, and the absolute worst example for the rest of the world in just about every area imaginable. We’re materialistic, greedy, self-centered and rude. And perhaps you’d like to tell me that our nation has fallen and the true remaining Christians are not any of those things that America is hated for around the world. If that were really true then Christians would actually stand out from the rest of society. If Christians actually said ‘no’ to materialism and chose to help out their brothers and sisters around the world, the results would be amazing. Churches would no longer need parking lots as Christians discovered the economics of car pooling and public transportation, did away with their second and third vehicles, and donated the profits to the less fortunate around the world who’ve never owned more than one t-shirt or known a single person who was obese.
We are a country of excess, greed and fat. Do not tell me we are a Christian nation. Jesus fasted—and that doesn’t mean he ate fast food.
It is the sin of pride that Christians in America love so much, and by that one downfall hopes of brotherly love and unity throughout the world are shattered. I seem to remember someone else who had a problem with pride, and he was quite an angel.
Bush. Gore. Bush. Gore. Votes on the floor. Votes in the air. Votes in a dimple. Votes by a pimple. Votes thrown away. Votes really thrown away. Votes in courts. Votes in appeals. Votes in lawsuits. Votes in monkey-suits. Votes on t-shirts. Votes in trash cans. Votes on billboards. Votes in campaign ads. Votes from abroad. Votes from a broad. Votes by population. Votes by electoral college. Votes by recount. Votes by rerecount. Votes by legislature. Votes by federal court. Votes by people. Votes by puppet. Votes for democracy. Votes for anarchy. Votes for apathy. Votes for humanity. Bush. Gore. Bush. Gore.
I wanted to write something funny about the election today. I tried. Not very hard, but I tried. It was going to be funny. People would read it and laugh and it would be a nice break from all the television and radio announcers talking about the latest non-developments. It was going to be funny. But it wasn’t ha-ha funny.
Two days later and still no president. Ha! This is great. I love watching the media be stumped. I love watching history happen. I love watching two not-so-great presidential candidates squabble over a few hundred votes to see who gets to claim the honor of being the unsure president.
Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t make any comments yesterday on the election. Too close to call, ha! I wonder how the people who went tearing across campus at 1:30 a.m. feel.
All the issues, candidates, opinions, and beliefs aside, I hope Al Gore wins. Not because I voted for him and I want him to win, but because it would be very anti-climactic if George W. Bush is declared the winner after all. And then we couldn’t laugh at the media for calling the wrong man president. What would really be fun is if the final count in Florida tomorrow is so close they have to wait for the absentee ballots. That would mean 5-10 more days. I’d love to watch Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Jim Lehrer try to function for ten days without knowing the results of the election. It would throw our modern media–who are so intent on reporting what’s happening as it happens–into such a frenzy they wouldn’t know what to do. They’d all have nervous breakdowns and instead of watching the latest analysis on the evening news we could all watch reruns of “The Cosby Show.”
Did you exercise your right of democracy today? I did. Actually, I did it last week. I voted by absentee ballot. And you know what? Absentee voters get the shaft. Everyone else gets to run around with a cool “I voted” sticker that proudly displays what hip and responsible citizens they are. Meanwhile the absentee voters get nothing and everyone thinks we’re lazy slouches who didn’t vote–when in reality we voted long before anyone else. I think all absentee ballots should come with an “I voted before you did” sticker.
I suppose as a consolation my ballot came with a voting pencil. It’s 2 1/2 inches long and 1/8 inch thick. Pretty cool, huh?
It’s 1:50 a.m. and the networks have declared a winner. I’m tempted to make a comment. Instead I’ll just make an observation. When I came home tonight I heard yelling and screaming echoing through the courtyard between the buildings of my townhouse. People were screaming out windows unintelligibly. There was an excitement in the air that you just don’t hear on a college campus. As I approached my door a mob of students came flooding from one townhouse carrying a billboard size George W. Bush sign. They took off across campus with it, screaming as they went (as a comical aside, one half of the sign advertised Rod Grams–the Minnesota Senator who lost). I’m not sure whether I should be excited at the display of youthful vigor for politics, or if I should be scared.
It boggles my mind the way the United States works. Our country is literally trying to be the biggest kid on the block. Our government is not interested in world peace or securing the power and position of the United Nations. Our government is simply interested in coming out on top. I was just reading a press release from the White House that focused on Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s comments about the situation in Israel and Iraq. A reporter confronted Albright with Amnesty International findings that Israel may be guilty of war crimes and is currently refusing to comply with UN Security Counsel resolutions. The reporter asked why the U.S. doesn’t condemn Israel’s action or cut off U.S. arms flow to Israel. Albright replied by talking about reducing violence and completely brushed the question off. She didn’t address the plain and simple question of U.S. policy. Apparently Israel can commit war crimes and defy the UN Security Counsel and we don’t care. Apparently you have to be on our good side. Now if you were a country like Iraq or Cuba or someone we don’t like, all hell would come loose. Is consistency too much to ask?
And it’s not just that one isolated instance. The situation with Iraq is even worse. Albright prattles on about how it’s Saddam Hussein’s fault and not the United States. She made the statement that “we didn’t invent Saddam Hussein.” But I wonder if we did. Who supplied Hussein with arms during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s? Who supplied Hussein with chemical and biological weapons that he used against his own people in 1988? Who was Hussein’s ally until the day before he invaded Kuwait? Um, that’d be us. Perhaps we did invent him. If the tables were turned, Washington would laugh. We expect Hussein to essentially drop his pants and let the world examine his arsenal. Only after that humiliating spectacle will we even think of lifting the sanctions. What would Washington say if we were given that ultimatum? They’d stubbornly refuse, just like Hussein is doing. Is it too much to ask for a little compassion and kind-heartedness from our government officials? Have they ever thought of trying on someone else’s shoes?
And we wonder why the rest of the world hates us. We wonder why someone ripped a forty by sixty foot hole in the USS Cole. Maybe it’s because we deserve it. Maybe it’s because we’re the big jerks on the planet and somebody has to hit us where it hurts.
My Absent Voter’s Ballot came today. It’s an intriguing mix of mystery, power, and wonder. As I look over the ballot I see a number of names and parties I don’t recognize. I’m filled with a feeling of independent freedom, a feeling that my vote is powerful. At the same time, does it really matter? Would a vote for John Hagelin of the Natural Law party mean anything? Part of me says yes, while I know Hagelin won’t come close to having 1% of the vote, it would send a message to the big time parties that they aren’t meeting the needs of some people. At the same time, that’s a tiny percentage of people. It feels like a game of numbers. Is a vote for Ralph Nader really a vote for George W. Bush? Does it have to come down to two major parties and a few rinkydink minor parties that squabble for a chance to prove that 2% of the American population isn’t satisfied with the democrats and the republicans. And why does it always come down to squabbling? It’s pretty obvious from watching the debates that both candidates have different views on different issues because they approach problems from different angles. Why can’t they sit down and spell out how they solve problems and why, and then debate the attributes of those approaches? They can make all kinds of accusations, but it’s all because they do things differently. Can we clear away the rhetoric and look at the issues? When that becomes clear then there is no more room for debate. There is only room for the action of the American voter. We have this wonderful democracy, but we make it so difficult.
I’ve always assumed that if you are a Christian, you vote Republican. No one ever told me this directly, but it’s something I’ve picked up from sermons, articles, and Christian rhetoric. Recently I’ve been refining my faith and asking difficult questions about what I believe
And so they babble on and on. They make great speeches (or not so great) and tell me what great things they’re going to do. Some of them sound like ideas they thought up yesterday. They take pointed little jabs at the opposition and cover any holes in their own armor, even if it means losing face. Perhaps there are some issues they just don’t care about. Of course you can’t tell the country that, so you act like you care, and you come off waffling.
Cynicism. It’s overwhelming me as I read reports of the Republican National Convention and all the election year news. But I am trying to sift through it all and make some sort of sense of it.
One interesting thing I found today was the comments of the wife of Dick Cheney, Bush’s choice for vice president. There’s a lot of tension in her voice and she seems to be offended at the idea her daughter could be gay. She claims her daughter’s not gay, but the evidence says otherwise. Either way you can sense the fear in her voice. Homophobia rising up, at least in the families of our presidential nominees. I find this somewhat troubling.
I’ll try not to end on such a cynical note. I found another interesting thing. Collin Powell made a speech at the convention that seemed rather intriguing. He spoke as a Republican to Republicans, but he wasn’t afraid to be a voice of dissention. He called for racial reconciliation