Of Primary Concern
Well sports fans, it’s that time in history once again; time to determine who will land in the Oval office and navigate the waters of international chaos, energy and environmental crisis, economic uncertainty, and increasingly challenging access to health care for millions of Americans. So we’ll be voting and watching over these next few months to see where this is all heading. The most cynical among us, as well as some extreme conspiracy theorists, won’t even bother to vote, believing that elections are determined solely by the interests of multi-national corporations and "their will be done, in India as it is in London, as it is in New York.”
So what’s a pastor to do at this time of year? To endorse a particular candidate is to risk being charged with being too political. I’m sensitive to that, although I’d note that there have been times in history when churches were silent out of deference to the state’s wishes and nasty things happened, like six-million Jews being executed. Precious few church leaders were willing to be explicit in their naming of Hitler’s dangers and crimes. And there are other issues too, where the church has been silent. Slavery? Colonialism? ...? I hope and pray that I’ll be explicit in naming names and crimes when the time is called for.
Until such time, I do think it’s important for pastors to communicate what they perceive to be the important issues for this time in history, and to encourage people to use the voice they’ve been given, casting their vote for the most appropriate candidate. After all, Jeremiah 29 encourages us to work and pray for the well being of the place where we live, wherever that place happens to be. At times those concerns are intensely local (as in our particular concerns with the well being of the neighborhood near our church) and at times they are national, such as when there’s an election and we’re considering issues and leadership that will affect all Americans and perhaps even the whole world.
- Recognize the growing gap between the rich and the poor and address it through economic checks and balances that will give more people a chance. I find it intriguing that our founding fathers were committed to checks and balances in the realms of government, but somehow felt that everyone operating in their economic self interest would float the boat of well being for all. This sort of economic Darwinism clearly isn’t working. Who will work to hold corporations accountable for policies that further injustice and oppression?
- Call people to sacrifice rather than consumption. Why? Because our lifestyles as Americans have us drowning in a sea of debt. Because of #1 above. Because of #5 below. And finally, because our materialism has been the de-facto means of defining our lives, so that we are increasingly a nation that is materially obese, but starving in our spirits and souls.
- Tell the truth – about how we will treat prisoners of war, about why we’re involved in military operations, or if we leave Iraq, why we’re getting out – about the many complexities of the illegal immigration issues – about the national debt and the weakening dollar – about the rapidly diminishing supply of oil globally and what we’ll do to energize ourselves differently, and the sacrifices that will be needed to take us there – about the real threats to both our liberties and our safety that have come about because of terrorist threats and how our leadership will balance those threats.
- Restore our status on the international stage as a country that uses its power and status to bless the world. This will require someone with commitments to, and skills in international diplomacy, as well us understanding the role of the sword in keeping peace, a fine balance indeed.
- Understand the holistic nature of the environmental crisis and be committed to action in all areas. Farming practices and erosion of topsoil, public transportation options in urban centers, the creation of micro-local economies, and heavy incentives for the real development and implementation of alternative energy sources are all important aspects of environmental responsibility.
The list could continue on, but I wanted to limit it to my top five. I’m hoping that you’ll add your own priorities to the list by leaving a comment. What are your primary concerns?