As I write this blog, I better be clear that I am writing about politics. Getting political is quintessential to the Christian experience, as far as I understand it. I also recognise that, currently, in our Canadian context there is a growing tension between our historical reality and the expectations of the Canadian government. As our denomination’s Moderator – Mardi Tindal – recently defended and replied to a government official’s challenge about the role of the Christian church in respect to the Social Good within civil society, we are called to be present in the political arena.
The tension, as far as I am concerned, requires that all people of faith – yes this certainly includes our Interfaith friends –take seriously whenever our voice begins to be categorised as a threat, challenge or critique by those who govern. There is, however, a significant distinction that I believe that Christians must be clear about, regardless of whether or not those who govern can parse it themselves.
We have, as long as we have journeyed as a Christian community, endeavoured to live counter to the cultural mores and expectations of the dominant culture: A culture often intending to encourage, nurture and sometimes impose a monotone uniformity that attempts to make sense of a human world through simple binaries of who’s in and who’s out. It is in this khaki tapestry that people rationalise violence, manipulation and cultural and racial genocide if what is abnormal cannot be moulded into the expectations of normal. What this means, in essence, is that Christian communities have actually – at our best – embraced diversity as the very gift of who we are as images of God here on earth. As opposed to creating systems to normalise and universalise, Christian experience has led us into the places of darkness that humans create. When we – as a species – are removed from one another through our systems and processes, we are able to make invisible the clearly visible harm that is expressed through social injustice, which is often grounded in corrosive socio-economic realities. Realities which – as Jesus’ challenge remains vibrant now as over 2000 years ago – ensures that there will always be those upon whose back the wealthy totter: namely the poor.
In this recognition of our faith journey, as Disciples of Jesus, is where we often find ourselves walking into the public arena, otherwise known as politics. We get political in several ways as we live out this calling. First, the very act of endeavouring to share with one another and embracing diversity as gift, not anomaly, we live out a political statement with our very lives, in our churches: whenever two or more of us gather, we are living propaganda for God’s Kingdom to Come. Secondly, and I believe this is by extension; we make choices to speak out with our voice into the public arena. Our voice is often emboldened when we see the Holy’s Creation being manipulated to harm earth, life and to diminish the dignity of our Brothers and Sisters and Interfaith friends, regardless of geography. And, I believe, this is the tension for Western Christians who benefit from an economic system that does not distribute the wealth of Creation with equality of equity. As Western Christian, eventually we will have to ask to whom does our allegiance lie? The human culture into which we have – through serendipity –been born or a God who longs for us to begin the Kingdom to Come now …
And this is the parsing that often leaves those who govern unsure as to what we want, as to our intent when our voice is spoken into the public arena. Our agenda is not – not do I believe ever has been – to replace those who govern with ourselves. The distinction is important because, when we are well and living into our relationship with the Creator, we live the Now as though the promise of wholeness has arrived. This is not an intellectual distinction; it is a point of faith. It is where words fail and it is what we do that speaks, not the volume of text we can create. When healthy and vibrant Christian communities speak into the political discourse it is to live the knowledge that diversity is good, equity is required and it happens in our faith communities Now, regardless of whether or not human culture has awoken to that equilibrium, in which all are truly welcomed at the table.
A Deacon’s Musing blog