Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Babylonian Ethics

"If you need me, I'll be sitting on my tail right here. Subverting the Empire."
As you may have noticed, my friends and I have been considering that the Anabaptist perspective on the Kingdoms of the world might be a more faithful Christian perspective than, you know, voting and stuff.

I think the difference between Christians who hope in the Powers that Be (read: who have been made the Empire's [lap dogs]) and those who hope in God's kingdom is the question of whether they want to "save Western civilization" or "get back to a Christian America" or whatever. If either Western civilization or America are thought to be good and wonderful ends in themselves - if those ideals are the point - we've completely moved away from doing business with the Bible or the broader Christian church.

I was standing in the kitchen, standing under the glossy 8x10 of Stan Hauerwas that Roger gave us (you reading this, Richard?) and wondering, okay, maybe it's a good idea, and faithful, to deal with voting in terms of local issues that can actually change, like for a politician who's really against mountain top removal in a meaningful way (not that there is one). Then the slippery slope argument started to make sense to me for the first time ever. Today it's mountain-top removal, because you want to be a good steward of God's creation. Next we'll be wanting to elect people on single issue platforms related to abortion (have you ever heard of such a thing?) because, guess what, that affects folks' lives in direct ways, too.

A little here, a little there, and before you even know what you've done, you're voting all the time, about all kinds of things.

Then Roger will accuse me of being a patriotic and responsible American. I'm not sure I can take that.


Anonymous said...

If an icon is a "window into heaven" what is a picture of Stan Hauerwas as an object of veneration?

Anonymous said...

Could you explain in a little more detail why voting all the time would be a bad thing?

Here's how I see it: God holds those in power to a high standard, and he will judge those whom he has given leadership and governmental positions. That's why the church should exist to critique the power structures when they fail and teach them how God wants his earth to be governed.

However, since we live in a democratic republic with the ability to vote and influence who will be the next leader, we are in a sense part of that governmental structure that the church exists to call into line. So by refusing to vote, we would be acting as poor stewards of the small, but still important, governmental power that God has granted us.

So how far off am I?

Anonymous said...

BLARGH! A voting anarchist... What funny world that post-modernity has offered us.

That said, why bother participating in the Empire at all? Why not focus on the politicians themselves as people rather than trying to exercise power?

It's the same conversation that I have with my partners in ministry in New Orleans. They would like to petition and politic with both local, state, and federal officials. I would like to continue to work with the people of the community and directly effect their lives and situations.

In the end, I think that there is some balance to be found between the two positions, but I lean towards my view if only because 1) It brings about action directly and 2) It seemingly fits with Christ's example better.