“Well, the good old days weren’t always that good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.” – Billy Joel
We, as citizens of these United States, are in a public crisis.
To some it may seem that there is just an overabundance of hot air in politics, and that things will work themselves out in time. While that may be true (well, there is definitely too much hot air, but working itself out has yet to be seen), there is a growing need for Americans to be clear about the political climate in our system and be proactive about the dangers of leveraging fear, intimidation, and errant faith to shape public opinion. The ultra conservative movement in our culture is seeing the power that it once wielded eroded by enlightenment and reason. In a desperate attempt at retaining power, they are rallying the troops on the far right to take up their cross, their guns, and their misguided sense of traditional values and follow them into fascism.
It is truly amazing how quickly the winds of change can shift the tides of political affiliation. It was not so long ago that the Conservative Right-wing Evangelical Engine for Politics and Society (or CREEPS, as we like to call it) was the only driving force that could get Christian voters to the polls. The message was so powerful and so effective that most Americans today think that Jesus wore a tie and worked for a Fortune 500 company. The last several decades were a time when, if you wanted to be prosperous, you had to buy a Bible and vote Republican. It turns out, however, that neither of those things are true, and that the modern voter, even the modern Christian voter, is figuring that out. There is considerable, justifyable panic in the ranks of the CREEPS, and they are pulling out all the stops to regain their grip on the electorate of faith. To some degree, it is working. But, to a larger extent, the harder they grip, the weaker their hold becomes.
There is a growing movement in the West of Christian voters and political activists who are not affiliated with the coalition of Christians that put both of the Bush’s in the White House. There is a new generation of voting believers, Mellennials and Gen X-ers, that are giving the Baby Boom Christian Conservative voters a run for their money.
The movement behind Sojourner’s is a prime example. These are firm believers in the Christian faith, led by the likes of Jim Wallis, Brian Mclaren and Shane Claiborne. These are honorable Christians who understand the true nature of the faith that we so dearly adhere to. They do not cling to the idea that the founding fathers were of the same mind set that they subscribe to, but that we live in a complex and ever changing society that requires a thinking mind and an open soul to navigate the complex society and the difficulties of the faith that we practice.
I am not suggesting that Mormonism is wrong, or that Rick Snatorum should subscribe to the same brand of Christianity as the folks at Sojourner’s, but if the foundation of your message is fear – fear of Obama, fear of some liberal marching army that is coming to strip you of your guns and your rights as an American, fear of education, fear of science – then your message is lost in the abyss of wayward faith and dangerous theology. As Anne Lamont so eloquently put it, “The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.” Doubt can breed fear, and where there is doubt and fear, there is often a politician near by to exploit the opportunity to talk about the past and how great it was. Well, in case this fact was lost on you, there is no such thing as “The good old days.”
The right is suffering from an arrest of reason, and much like cardiac arrest, when one is faced with possible demise, their thoughts are turning to the afterlife. Well, that is fair enough if you have given up hope, but we, the people, have not given up hope. We are glad that yesterday was a good day, but we have to make today a strong day so that tomorrow will be even better. We do not have time for fear and anger, and we certainly do not have room for a faith that has more to do with supply side economics than with the message of Christianity. Regardless of who wins the Republican primary, the ideologies that will be challenging one another in the fall will be hope and promise vs. fear and a call to return to “The good old days.” For me, I will choose a the promise of a better tomorrow over a longing for yesterday.