Putting things in perspective doesn't diminish the importance of politics or the significance of what happens in elections; it simply serves as a helpful corrective to our tendency to get wrapped up in matters that are (by comparison) narrow and fleeting.
We ask that you would grant our nation peace, hope, direction, recovery. That you would heal the anger, bitterness, animosity and hate that characterizes so many on all sides. That you would help all of us to move on together, charitably disagreeing but bound by a commitment to a more civil discourse—perhaps even those in Washington D.C.
My vote won't matter at all in California, but I sent in my ballot last week anyway, voting for Mitt Romney. Am I super excited about everything Romney stands for? Not at all. I'm uncomfortable with his Mormon faith, regret that he supports drone strikes & the use of torture, and absolutely wince when he says things like "America is the hope of the earth."
The ferociously partisan atmosphere in America these days isn't limited to Washington D.C., though it certainly is epitomized there. No, the divisive, bitter ambience in this country exists everywhere, from sea to shining sea. A few minutes on cable news or a cursory scroll through one's social media feed at any given moment confirms it. And it's getting worse.
In the wake of his numerous gaffes and "um, er, uh... oops!" flubs on televised debates and in campaign appearances, Texas governor Rick Perry launched a new ad motto: "I'm a doer, not a talker," as if that's supposed to make us all feel more confident in his presidential abilities. Newsflash to Rick: no matter what good things you've done, you can't just be a doer if you want to get elected president. You've got to be a talker too, and a good one.
What exactly is the purpose of Occupy Wall Street? Apart from a vague sense of it being the liberal counterpart to the Tea Party, and a coalition of unionists, anti-capitalists and mad-as-hell twentysomethings angry about the rising cost of Netflix and Facebook's infuriating shape-shifting, it's sort of unclear.
A few weeks ago at the GOP presidential debate, some in the crowd cheered as Rick Perry defended his record on the death penalty. It was a horrifying thing to watch. Why is anyone cheering for the death penalty? Regardless of one's political stance on capital punishment, it seems to me that at best it is a necessary evil, but certainly not something to be celebrated.
Is it possible to be truly sold on a candidate in this world of wall-to-wall political coverage (on TV, in print, on blogs, on social media, etc)? For any given candidate, we're liable to see hundreds of tweets, blog posts, soundbites and snarky late-night TV jokes that deconstruct their every faux-pas and spin them in a variety of conflicting directions. For any given candidate, about every perspective known to man will be broadcast, tweeted about and linked to by someone in our social network. How can we help but not become hopelessly confused, cynical, and unenthusiastic about all of our options, when each of them has a million vocal enemies crowding our thoughts with perspectives of every sort on a daily basis?
One of the dominant attributes of Christianity today is that its adherents can’t seem to agree on much; or at least, we fight about things more loudly and publicly than we agree about things. This is sad, but probably inevitable. Since Christ’s time on this planet, his followers have been arguing about almost everything. It’s nothing new, though certain technologies (the blogosphere, Twitterverse, etc) seem to amplify it today. We argue about all sorts of things—small, large, petty, important. We argue about “essentials” and “nonessentials,” and even about who decides which is which. The following is my solemn reflection on the things that divide us the most these days. What can we do to have better dialogue about these things?
I don't want to sound defeatist. I just sometimes despair when I look around and find such a dearth of nuance and moderation—even, lamentably, in a rally purportedly all about moderation. Instead of rallying for more productive bipartisan dialogue, the rally-goers today seemed more interested in having a condescending laugh at the expense of "the unthinking masses" who apparently can do nothing other than believe everything they see on TV.
On Tuesday, President Obama—following the precedent of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush—delivered a “Back to School” speech to American students, beamed live via the Internet and C-SPAN into thousands of classrooms across the country.
When asked by another interviewer how he thought Prejean should have responded, Hilton said, “A very simple way she could have answered it is, 'as a future Miss USA it is my job not to be a politician, but to be someone who represents and inspires the women and the troops, and I think it's great that the states get to decide for themselves.' Something like that… she would not have had to insert her own personal politics into it." But wait, wasn’t Hilton inserting his own “personal politics” into it—forcibly putting Miss California into a situation that pretty much demanded a political response?
When Obama won the presidency on November 4, 2008, hipsters everywhere were ecstatic. The vast majority of hipsters (that is: indie-dressing fashionable young anti-establishmentarians) were Obama fans, and those that were not were mostly anarchists or otherwise apolitical or libertarian. But while Obama’s election was a proud moment for hipsters, it was also a significant blow to their long-term viability.
When George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election and took office eight years ago, I was a senior in high school. I was naïve, an ambitious go-getter on the cusp of college and newness and a world of glorious uncertainty. Eight months after Bush’s inauguration, I went to Wheaton College to start my freshman year. I said goodbye to my parents, hello to my new roommate, and jumped right into the exciting new chapter in my life. The second week of school, 9/11 happened, and the world changed.
In saying “no” to gay marriage I am really just saying yes to the moral system of restraint, discipline and piety that I believe is God’s best plan for humanity.
I spent the weekend in the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver, BC and Seattle), and I have to say that it was one of the loveliest autumnal weekends I've had in a long time. It was alternately rainy, misty, foggy, crisp, clear, and smoky. And the fall colors were enjoying their last vibrant bursts of showy seasonality. There were swirls and cyclones of deciduous death, good coffee and pubs and plays and Rilke poems. It was glorious. And Explosions In the Sky and Fleet Foxes, which is always good music for fall.
Regardless of the outcome of today’s election (I can’t believe I’m saying today’s election!), there are at least two truths that we will all wake up to tomorrow: Half of America will be discouraged and maybe even resentful. None of America’s problems will have been solved.
[Note: Last week Focus on the Family shared with us a sage and sobering letter from the future: 2012 to be exact. Perhaps because the news was too depressing to share, they neglected to also release the sequel--a letter from 2016 (after Obama's second term as president), written by someone named Ryan Hamm. I have that letter here. It's your Christian and civic duty to read it...]
I really want to vote for Obama. There are a myriad of reasons why it would thrill me to cast my vote for him on November 4. He is such an attractive and inspiring figure, and I'm not just saying that because it's the standard line about Obama. It's true.
It's so tiresome to watch the conventions and hear the light rock boomer music they have playing anytime they want to rile up the bourgeois troops to get hip to their nominee.