Monday, August 1, 2016

7 Unpopular Political Ideas

1) The reasons people like you and me follow the news and current events are not as noble and civically minded as we often report. (Check out "Why Do We Really Follow the News?" from Freakonomics.) Among the reasons we follow the news, the podcast offers 

  • entertainment, 
  • status (in being someone "in the know"), 
  • personal utility, and 
  • the desire "to be told a story that matches the story we are already telling ourselves, about ourselves."

2) In light of the above, and for its treatment of fantasy and reality, Rowan Williams' Silence and Honey Cakes may be the most important short book a Christian can read in 2016.

3) In faith communities, families, etc., it is a good practice to notice what doesn't get talked about in proportion to its occurrence in our communities. A short-list might begin with alcoholism, sexual assault, and familial estrangement.

4) The presidential election, in caricature, is Trump the fear monger verses Clinton the hope candidate. But as soon as some portion of the electorate attempts to pressure undecided voters to vote for Clinton over a third-party candidate as a matter of essential political strategy, both parties reveal themselves to be motivated by fear. We shouldn't judge this, but we should name it. The fear vs. hope fa├žade is self-serving (on both sides) and self-deceptive. More positively, that we are all afraid may turn out to be the beginning of an honesty unity.

5) Not sure how to vote? This is a beautiful idea.

6) War is getting a free pass in this election cycle. I often refer to war as the United States' bipartisan addiction. I say this with tremendous respect for the men and women of this country's armed forces, a number of whom share my desire to see declines in occasions of war (and its unofficial manifestations).

7) Faith communities should not take it as a given that it is easy to vote without succumbing to idolatry. It is possible, I think, to vote without succumbing to idolatry, but not without help. To do so takes wise counsel, accountability, and the benefit of holy friendships in the community of faith. One measure, among many, of our success in resisting idolatry is the flourishing of our capacity to love one another.

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