The Audacity of Hope
The political landscape of America has always been shifting sand. Look at a red state/ blue state chart from 150 years ago and compare it to today; you’ll see what I mean. One of the more recent phenomenon in political mapping has been the union of Christian conservatives with the Republican party. There are many reasons for this, but primarily it seems that issues such as abortion, gay marriage, prayer in schools, and the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places are the litmus test issues for this block of voters.
I’m wondering if there’s a change on the horizon. I just finished reading Time’s book excerpt from, ‘The Audacity of Hope’ by Barack Obama. Here’s a democrat who is open, both about his faith and the role that faith must, of necessity play in the public arena. The difference for Obama is that his work with, and experience of the ‘historically black church’ offered a powerful apologetic for the issues of faith to be both rooted in something transcendent, and effective the public spheres of poverty, justice, racism, and war. What will happen when a democratic presidential candidate begins to openly profess the connection between faith and public policy? What will happen when such a discussion leads to debates across party lines that have theological overtones (for example: is pre-emptive war in keeping with the ethic of Christ? Is abortion wrong when the culture into which a child is born is unsupported with economic and educational assistance? I could list twenty more… but don’t have time)?
What Obama calls the ‘historically black church’ was appealing to one of my favorite theologians. In part, I think his perception of this same seamless theology, which spoke to all areas of life, was that to which he was drawn.
Interesting days are ahead, when candidates on both sides of the isle are appealing to the teachings of Jesus as the basis for their political convictions. This will demand that churches offer a voice in the midst of the discourse, critiquing the dialogue with sound theology and hermeneutics. Are you ready for that? Are we ready for that? What an exciting time to be alive!