The God-talking professional believers who do it for the money owe us their silence, their respect
of our right to choose without their opinion of God's opinion shoved in our faces. God is not a scorekeeping obsessor with
piety and holy self-righteous intolerance - no matter what podium and alter-pounder says so.
Communion is with God, not the professional religious addict nor an intiative-grasshopping-guru
who won't work for his sustenance because he can make make a better living pretending to speak for the little guys.
Is the very heart of our Christian way of life an understanding that Jesus, from the unseen
world of spirit, is a commanding presence? Is Jesus a presence commanding Christians what to think, when to think it and who
A commanding presence is one of influence. Jesus IS in a sense a commanding presence whose mortal
pattern we as Christians consciously seek to model. But his is not a pattern of blind obedience to pretended ecclesiastical
authority. His most ardent criticisms were directed toward that kind of blowhard priestly class.
Nor was the pattern one of blending citizenship with religion. When challenged about it, he
"Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's."
Jesus does not live in our spiritual lives as a kind, gentle and loving but forceful and demanding
equivalent of a divine Julius Caesar. The Lord does not authorize religious leaders to speak to us for Him. Nor does he reveal
to any religious leader more than to us individually His will as to our decisions concerning our religion or politics. We
as a spiritual people must not ignore our own internal promptings if they are based in Christ in our own lives.
We do not have some Christian duty to blindly consent when someone in prominence announces that
the Almighty has chosen or inspired him to lead American Christians to specific actions that impact communities, a people
and a nation.
As Jim Wallis at Sojourners once pointed out, Mr. Bush somehow turned the light of Christ - which
evangelicals desire fervently to enlighten the world - into the light of America and America's definition of freedom.
Are we to then with a jerking of our knees fall in line behind such a messianic declaration?
I recall the Frontline pre-election program about George Bush and his spiritual experience,
focus and outlook. I was impressed and found myself thinking, "Whats wrong with having leaders more openly unashamed of their
spiritual beliefs? "
Actually, theres nothing wrong with honestly and openly trying to be consistent with one's internal
values. But when Mr. Bush then proclaims that America has an obligation to impose freedom around the world as The Almighty's
Gift, we ought to be able to safely conclude that if he really means what he says, we as well must decide for ourselves if
that attitude is in close harmony with our own.
However, if we conclude that such a crusade is not our national obligation, we need to be honest
about that as well and act on our own spiritual insight.
Personal piety does not automatically equate to possession of the highest wisdom. Someone of
greater public piety than your own does not mean that that someone has more wisdom than you.
As a people of faith, we follow a Lord who taught us about The God of Compassion;
a Lord who in many ways repudiated the War God of the Old Testament.
Yet today we are being challenged to accept such a view of God.
We are being challenged to test and believe that George Bush has been inspired by the judgmental
and punitive portrayal of God in the Old Testament as opposed to the God of Compassion portrayed by Jesus.
Cast aside are the gentle and loving samples of Christ-like thinking as portrayed in the Good
Samaritan, The Prodigal Son, and the Sermon On The Mount.
Are we expected to ignore Christ's behavior toward the woman caught in adultery, Christ's patience
with Nicodemus and Christ's reminder that the Father is aware of even a fallen sparrow?
Are we then to judgmentally condemn one another, show intolerance to different opinions - particularly
spiritual opinions - and ignore political and economic collateral damage during this administration's "righteous" crusade
and the dominant party's claim to a monopoly on morality.
We do not have to choose between a party of Righteousness and a Party of Evil. Nor are
we to consciously separate our definitions of Good along the lines of our political, economic and social beliefs in a way
that forces us ignore the inconsistency with the scriptural teachings of Jesus.
If we are to ask, "How would Jesus Vote?", we are to do so with a comprehensive consideration
of the values He has given us.
We must reconcile our political, economic and social beliefs with how we personally understand
How do we incorporate Lazarus and the Rich Man, The Eye of the Needle metaphor, The Widows Mites
and other similar Christ concepts in order to make an informed spiritual decision regarding how we as a people deal with our
poor, our unemployed and our inadequately-insured sick?
Otherwise, we are as the Levite, turning a blind eye to one whom the Good Samaritan did not.
If Jesus was sufficiently opposed to the worship of money as to attack authorized money changers
in the temple, how are we to reconcile our government catering to the wealthiest in this country at the expense of the poorest?
How do the teachings of Jesus compare to policies that favor corporate interests that negatively
impact employment, poverty and the environment?
The commandment to replenish the earth does not mean a commandment to exploit it to death and
a permanent draining and destruction of natural resources.
A contrast exists here and we need to address it..
Adminstration philosophic and economic theories conflict with Jesus' own words and actions.
Believing Christians must exercise their own internal wisdom in this regard.
Lazy Christians will vote according to some prominent personality who, for example, declares
that it is God's will is that the poor will always be with us so we can take their plight with a large grain of political
The dumber professional believers will - in their broadcast God-talk - even push the idea that
economic prosperity is the direct result of personal conservative, republican, free-market capitalistic piety. They call it
Prosperity Theology and take as their model, every religious bigot who ever avoided the wounded traveler on the highway.
Active Christians ought to honestly ask themselves,
"If Jesus went out of his way to heal the poor, how is it we continue to stumble along
in this country distracted by who marrys who, creationism versus evolution, and why a military crusade to force peace on the
world are all more important than our own sick and poor?
Is not such behavior a selfish and self-centered hypocrisy?
National security is one of our most critical concerns but it is not the only concern.
I would prefer a president inspired by God who is unafraid to acknowledge his spiritual beliefs
and then apply those beliefs with a healthy dose of ethics, not a self-serving claim of personal morality.
I do not want a president who espouses and effectively acts on his own personal interpretation
of what God wants for me as a citizen of my country.
Jesus never intended that kind of leadership approach.
I cannot support our Christian in the White House as the spiritually overbearing commander of
Nor can I support him as God's economic idealogue.
Both support a cruel counterfeit of Christian practice.
Advocating for change and reform is part of what it means to be American, like baseball, apple pie and Mom. Seriously
considering change and reform must include a sense of what "being American" really means on an individual level.
and religion seem to remain among a majority subjects of social discussion most frequently made taboo or avoided, primarily
because I suppose, politics and religion bring out our passions.
Today it is time for our passions to speak. In the absence of our own passions, we are passively allowing our society to slide
toward being told by others the correct answer to "What does it mean to be Christian in America."
Bigotted Christians preach discrimination as part of being "fearful" of God in a way that recognizes God's capacity for wrath
and punishment to those who stray, backslide and slip into immorality.
The God of the Eymanite Christians is perfectly capable of destroying the innocent with the guilty as evidenced during the
9/11 attacks and the "godly" fist of Katrina expressing His displeasure with an entire city that had supposedly mocked God
for too long.
This is the stuff of which an American Christian society deteriorates into the shallow and murderous morality of the Taliban.
And I sure as hell would not want to sign no dumb petition and wind up on the list God is going to read when He decides which
unrighteous Christian bigots are headed for the Dante woodshed.
© Arthur Ruger 2006