Preview: Politics, Poverty, and God

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America, America, God shed His grace on thee.

From Fatherhood to motherhood,

And sea to shining sea!

I don’t think I will ever get the words to that song straight. Embedded within my DNA is a specific genetic code to invent and insert lyrics at random. But even if I don’t get patriotic songs like these right, doesn’t mean I’m disrespecting my hood, the good ol’ U S of A. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be born and raised here.

One thing I have become convinced of is that I don’t think of my country the way many of my countrymen do. I started realizing this around the time I began traveling to other parts of the world. Then came the college classes, studying detailed issues like social services, immigration policy, international and community development and cultural anthropology- ya, those classes threw me just a little.

Then it was encountering the poor. Like the real live people. Oh, and I can’t leave out reading the Bible, asking God to “transformed” my mind to His worldview rather than culture’s (Romans 12:1&2).

Hence, since becoming a “grown-up,” I’ve been called a liberal by my conservative friends and a conservative by the liberals. Political Quizzes have labeled me a “moderate.” But that is just because I don’t successfully fall into any category so I am dropped splat in the middle. I believe very strongly on some issues, don’t care enough about other issues, and mostly am overwhelmingly aware that these issues are all wwaaaaayyy over my head (so how in the world can I even begin to pretend to know what I’m talking about?).

Surely I am not the only person who is like this? Right? Please tell me I am not alone! But I did ask some of you to read this, specifically because I know you do have opinions.

For me it is tempting to write off politics altogether. Heck, we have so many freakin’ freedoms in general right now! At least in comparison to others around the world. Can’t I just be happy with these? Isn’t debating one single country’s politics so shallow in light of the grand scheme the world and history that isn’t not even worth my time? And yet, politics is a practical part of our lives. I don’t just want to burn my bras and refuse to vote because it is relatively less-important than say, saving the world. That attitude seems irresponsible and arrogant, although I will confess I’ve embraced it.

(If you want more on why we should care, a friend send me this thought-provoking article the other day you might enjoy about why Americans should work to sustain the American experiment).

So, let’s just start with the premise that politics should be considered. Then what? For example, should we believe everything we see on Facebook? I was recently told about a study which expressed how much social media is changing the face of politics by influencing our political views. There are always political posts, and as we usually are friends with like-minded people, we feed off of each other to form a stronger view. Of course, the pictures/cartoons/facts we post are in all actuality, not actually entirely accurate (sorry to burst your bubble).

I consider myself lucky to have friends from every political view. Often, I end up just wanting to play the devil’s advocate, mainly because I feel like the other side always needs a defense. But also because it irks me that we seem to embrace views so readily when they might not be true.

Truth is hard to come by. Most of us don’t consider that our beliefs might actually not be the best one out there.

In this I hope to shake up our worldviews like a bartender shakes fancy, fun, fruity-tooty drinks for those, um, uppity suburban housewives (of whom I have no similarity to). I want the liberal liquor to mix with the conservative juice, blending with the icy independents. Note: I don’t care about the opinion of any dictator-loving fascists, though. They are just wrong. And besides, I don’t know of any other part of my beverage analogy to assign to them; they don’t work with my metaphor. Well, I guess they could be an a slice of orange…

Point being, we won’t change our views to find truth unless we are nicely, kindly open-minded in discussion with others who might not agree with us, exploring the foundation of truth.

Considering this blog is to inspire us to change the world in light of poverty and injustice, it is becoming clear I need to at least seriously consider where I politically stand on these issues. All of us do, if we are to continue forward as smart advocates.

As I am a follower of Jesus, I want my moral beliefs to be shaped by the Bible. This is where I believe God expresses who He is, giving us good principles to make our lives better.

Morals are a big deal when it comes to politics. I think our every decision is influenced by them, even as we herald the separation of church and state. For example, traffic laws have a moral base, existing to provide safety because we believe that carelessly hurting others is wrong; we believe we should promote fairness rather than “I am better than you so I am going to cut you off as I turn left.

So if our morals are shaped by what we believe (or don’t believe) about God, and our government is influenced by our collective morals, we can undoubtedly come to the conclusion that our beliefs about God, poverty and politics are intertwined, at least to a degree.

I’m aware this is controversial ground, and I’m not even bringing up the big issues like abortion, marriage, immigration, environment, taxes! I feel like poverty and even an injustice like human trafficking is a lot more neutral.

I don’t want us to belabor the connection between politics, poverty and God. If you don’t think there is an intersection, okay. But the following dialogue was created for those who are aware there is a connection between the three and who also believe poverty is an issue God cares about. And if you are not a Christian, I will happily have this conversation again with the agnostic or Buddhist. But today, I am asking for the thoughts of those who have the same foundation of beliefs that I do, coming from the Bible.

What I want to know is why you vote how you vote. I need advice! Heck, there is an election coming up! Actually, I don’t care who you will vote for or how much you dislike whatever president got under your skin. I want to understand the underlining reasons why I have friends on the completely opposite side of the spectrum, who both claim to be Christians and care about poverty.

Can we start a healthy discussion exploring these underling reasons? I’m asking you guys to send me statements/essays/thoughts to post on the Average Advocate for the next couple months as part of this series on politics, poverty and God.

Here are some questions for you to work with:

  • Is there an ideal relationship between poverty and the government?
  • Whose job is it to take care of the poor? As Americans, how should we do that? As Christians, how should we do that?
  • What about the poor around the world, our neighbors and the “alien,” or immigrant?

And mostly, how does the Bible influence your opinion on these things? I’m hoping for more of your spiritual perspective than your political perspective.

Guidelines:

  • If you are parroting the last guy, I will wait to post someone with a different opinion before I post yours.
  • I will do minor editing to your post.
  • I will be linking these opposites together, and might even post them together.
  • Please comment! This gets a dialogue rolling.
  • I will not post name calling or something I consider disrespectful towards those who don’t share your opinion.
  • Be clear between your opinion and the “WORD OF GOD.” Believe it or not, they might actually be different.
  • Give Biblical examples of why you lean the direction you lean in.

The whole goal of this exercise is to examine why we believe what we do about politics, poverty and God. Don’t lose sight of this goal! We want to adjust from what we do think to maybe what we should think.

I’m looking forward to what we discover together! From sea to shining sea…

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  • http://thoughtsaloud.com ◄Dave►

    Nice blog, Elisa, and the graphic looks great here. You are more than welcome to use anything you find there, in any way you wish. I really like the approach you are taking in this article, and I hope my insight helped you feel not only OK, but in the principled position as a ‘moderate’ in center-field. :)

    I don’t qualify to contribute to your project; but I will be fascinated to watch it develop. Best of luck with it. You might find value in an old post of mine: Liberty vs. Faith Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you again. ◄Dave►

    • http://www.elisasue.wordpress.com esejadmin7

      Liked your post about faith, mainly because I related finding myself in the middle. There were a lot of very big political words so I’m not totally sure I followed the whole thing, but I guess you were mostly saying that the extremes don’t work, we need either a third party not concerned with either of those extremes (that was taken seriously) or we need to take over one of the main two parties?
      Feel free to follow this as we go along- it seems like you have a lot of political knowledge that might help some of the opinion’s posted think through their position. My hope is for us to all just think through our positions (which you’ve obviously done) by targeting the core values of a specific culture of people. Maybe in the end we’ll all end up on the same page, as we challenge our beliefs!

  • http://www.mamaof2greatkids.ca Aimee

    Hi Elisa.

    I just watched this teaching piece by my church’s teaching pastor last night. And this morning, read this blog post. I thought that you might be interested to watch /listen to this:
    http://www.themeetinghouse.com/teaching/archives/2012/ordinary-radicals/anabaptist-invasion-5270

    ~ Aimee.

    • http://www.elisasue.wordpress.com esejadmin7

      Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out1 I think I remember that you are Canadian? If you feel like writing a post, discussing your own countries politics and what you believe about God in the subject of poverty, let me know. For example, don’t you guys already have national heathcare? Do you think that helps the poor? Do you think that was a good move? Just curious….
      (And if you are NOT Canadian, I am SO sorry!)

      • http://www.mamaof2greatkids.ca Aimee

        Yes, Canadian! :-) I’ve been interestingly following the U.S. healthcare news lately & don’t quite understand why so many are against the reforms. The Canadian system works & everyone has equal access to it… it’s one of the best things this country has to offer, I think.

        As for writing a blog post on this topic… let me mull over that one. It’s just never crossed my mind to blog about government, church & poverty together. If you check out the link I posted earlier, you’ll understand why. :-)

        • http://www.elisasue.wordpress.com esejadmin7

          Well, feel free to mull over it but you are still welcome to post! Especially as 1.) you don’t see a problem with the health care (which is the opposite opinion of many I know) and 2.) you agree with that teacher’s sermon you sent me. I though it was good to hear, and I think I largely agreed with him. But most people probably won’t look at your comment and listen to a 40minute sermon. Maybe you could just sum up the points he was saying, because I think they are very valid and would love more people to take a look at them! Regardless if you post or not, thanks for sharing what you did! :)

          • http://contemplationsofahousewife.blogspot.com/ Peggy

            I’m having trouble getting the link to work for me :( I’ll keep trying. I too, would like to know what you think about health care.

  • http://contemplationsofahousewife.blogspot.com/ Peggy

    Elise,

    I’m shamed to say, this is the first time I’ve visited your blog. *ahem* I apologize.

    I must also admit, that God is in the process of changing my heart towards politics, so right now, I don’t feel like I can contribute well enough to be articulate. But I do believe He lead me to read this post of yours, to further His leading/teaching. So I thank you for that!

    I look forward to seeing how the comments develop, and will be bopping around your other posts.

    Love ya!
    Peggy

    • http://www.elisasue.wordpress.com esejadmin7

      bahahha! Its cool, Peggy! I know if SOMEONE has opinions on politics, it is you. And I know that you and I have been on opposite sides of the spectrum sometimes! But I’m okay with that, as long as we are both seeking God, trying to figure out the distinction between what is of God and what is just politics. I’d be honored to have you contribute something you write as you go through the process He is taking you through! love, -e

      • http://contemplationsofahousewife.blogspot.com/ Peggy

        HA, hmm, yes I do have something to say about politics. Maybe too much of me and not enough of God? I’m not sure I’ll write something, but it intrigues me too do so. :) Maybe it’ll be the impetus I need…

        • http://contemplationsofahousewife.blogspot.com/ Peggy

          Okay, been sitting here thinking, and having internal dialog with God…

          My stance before:
          Voting has been pretty much a knee jerk process. Voting for the lessor of two evils, as I saw it.
          I’ve come to think that all politicians are shady, which makes me wanna kick ‘em all. What can I say…I’m a tad…passionate about this.

          My New Stance:
          I’m only coming to realize that the voting process SHOULD begin and end with prayer and seeking God’s wisdom. Regardless of how I feel about a certain candidate. How humbling for me, and certainly backwards as I considered myself a believer. To never have connected that before. Although I can say that I probably would have told you I had.

          Verdict:
          I have no idea where I’ll land on the sliding scale of political sides, but I do know I want to be on God’s side, in all things…even politics.

          • http://www.elisasue.wordpress.com esejadmin7

            Very cool! Sounds like you are being brave and humble at the same time! Kudos!

            As for your facebook Q, what were specific things which changed my perspective, I’ll kinda have to think through my journey a little? Maybe that will be my blog post this week!

            Here was that link that one woman above sent- maybe now it will work? Interesting stuff!

            http://www.themeetinghouse.com/teaching/archives/2012/ordinary-radicals/anabaptist-invasion-5270

  • http://contemplationsofahousewife.blogspot.com/ Peggy

    I’d love to read through your journey! :)

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